NJ Gov. Chris Christie orders one-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican who has been mentioned prominently as a contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, has ordered a one-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in that state, making New Jersey the first state in the US to ban hydraulic fracturing, a widely used completion method used in shale formations. The huge Marcellus Shale play extends into parts of New Jersey.

The move by Christie is widely seen as symbolic and a political statement rather than as a threat to oil and gas companies because no operators have yet expressed an interest in using hydraulic fracturing in New Jersey.
Marcellus Shale Coalition president and executive director Kathryn Z. Klaber issued the following statement regarding Christie’s decision to enact a one-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing:

“Our industry is deeply disappointed by Gov. Christie’s decision. While the Marcellus Shale formation does not underlie enough of New Jersey to make it economical to produce, and no natural gas producers are actively seeking to explore for natural gas in the Garden State, this policy sends the wrong message to an entire nation benefitting from the responsible production of clean-burning, American natural gas. Further, the governor’s decision runs contrary to his understandable and laudable promotion of the expanded use of natural in his state’s energy mix.”

Shale gas, as found in the Marcellus Shale formation in the northeast United States, is prolific but trapped by tight rock formations that do not allow the hydrocarbon to flow to the surface using conventional drilling methods. In the past decade, producers have begun drilling horizontally across the formation and using multi-stage hydraulic fracturing to unlock the tight rocks and allow the hydrocarbons to flow.

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