On September 18, 2013, the Highland Park Borough Council passed the first local ban on fracking in New Jersey. Highland Park, like most of New Jersey, has seen no fracking activity to date. And the 14,000-person borough has never been considered a likely candidate for future fracking. The absence of any realistic potential for fracking in Highland Park, however, was not a driving consideration of the ban, which was meant to encourage other municipalities to pass similar ordinances. According to Highland Park Councilwoman Susan Welkovits, the “intent is to have other municipalities follow suit” to one day achieve a piecemeal statewide ban.
The Highland Park ban is also a response to the lack of support for a statewide ban on fracking. New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie signed a one-year moratorium on fracking in January 2012 after conditionally vetoing an outright ban. That moratorium expired earlier this year and efforts to reinstate a statewide ban have failed, in part because New Jersey has received little attention from natural gas developers.
Separately, fracking opponents have pushed for a statewide ban on the treatment and disposal of fracking waste in New Jersey. Like the failed attempts to ban fracking, Christie vetoed the fracking waste legislation, and efforts to override his veto have been unsuccessful.
Considering the lack of fracking activity in New Jersey, these anti-fracking efforts are likely to remain symbolic gestures, at least in the near term.