Fracking by the Numbers: New Environment New Jersey Report First To Quantify Threat of Gas Drilling, Shows Fracking Waste Increasing in Neighboring States

A Year After Gov. Christie’s Fracking Waste Ban Veto, New Jersey Still at Risk; Web of Fracking Could Extend Gas Pipeline Through Pinelands

Environment New Jersey

Trenton Today, Environment New Jersey Research and Policy Center released a new report called Fracking by the Numbers that measures the damage being done by dirty drilling across the country, and strengthened the urgency to keep fracking waste out of New Jersey.  As neighboring Pennsylvania hit a record high of producing fracking waste, and as the Pinelands Commission considers approving a gas pipeline through the most pristine area of the state, the report is the first study of its kind to measure the footprint of fracking damage to date— including toxic wastewater, water use, chemical use, air pollution, land damage and global warming emissions.

“The numbers don’t lie— fracking has taken a dirty and destructive toll on our environment. If we allow the web of fracking to fully expand, this is the kind of damage we could see in New Jersey,” said Dan DeRosa, field organizer from Environment New Jersey. “The New Jersey Legislature needs to stand up to Gov. Christie and to override his shortsighted veto to ban fracking waste.”

Of particular concern, the report shows that Pennsylvania produced 1.2 billion gallons of wastewater in 2012 – its largest total to date – and more than 2.5 billion gallons since the fracking boom began. Often laced with cancer-causing and even radioactive material, toxic fracking waste has contaminated drinking water sources from Pennsylvania to New Mexico.

“This report shows exactly the massive impact fracking waste is causing in neighboring states, and why it is so critical to keep fracking waste out of New Jersey’s waterways,” said Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-14). “The Legislature should overturn Gov. Christie’s veto of the fracking waste ban bill and protect New Jersey from this highly toxic and even radioactive fracking waste.”

The report also exposed the discrepancies between the industry’s self-reporting portal, FracFocus, and the actual state environmental records which documented larger amounts of environmental damage. Over half of the wells the report focuses on aren’t included in the industry reporting. Records from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection show that drilling companies have already started to make New Jersey the dumping ground for their toxic fracking waste. Drilling companies already have shipped toxic wastewater to the Deepwater Energy Center, next to the Delaware River, and to plants in Kearny and Carteret. None of these plants are capable of cleaning fracking waste before disposing of it in New Jersey.

“This report is a great help in quantifying the many impacts of fracking. The 280 billion gallons of toxic wastewater produced nationally last year all has to go somewhere and we know that frack waste, some of it radioactive, was trucked in from Pennsylvania to get rid of it. Because there still is not enough places to take it, we can expect it to be pushed on us again because Governor Christie vetoed New Jersey’s frack waste ban bill.  A new report out of Duke University yesterday reveals that extremely high levels of radium from fracking was found in sediment in a Pennsylvania creek, verifying the warnings in the Environment New Jersey report. We have to stop this pollution,” said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

Some of the key findings from the report include:

  • More than 82,000 fracking wells have been drilled since 2005
  • Fracking wells nationwide produced an estimated 280 billion gallons of wastewater in 2012.
  • This toxic wastewater often contains cancer-causing and even radioactive materials, and has contaminated drinking water sources from Pennsylvania to New Mexico.
  • Fracking operations have used at least 250 billion gallons of water since 2005
  • While most industrial uses of water return it to the water cycle for further use, fracking converts clean water into toxic wastewater, much of which must then be permanently disposed of, taking billions of gallons out of the water supply annually.
  • Operators have hauled more than 2 billion gallons of chemicals to thousands of fracking sites around the country.
  • Global warming emissions from completion of fracking wells since 2005 total an estimated 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

“This report is an eye opener for the people in this country to see how wide spread and how tremendous the impacts are from fracking and waste water.  We will have the same devastating consequences that are happening across the country here unless action is taken to ban fracking and fracking waste and to stop the pipelines that being installed across our state.  We have enough toxic sites; we don’t need any more created by this polluting industry,” said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club.

Beyond fracking waste being brought into the state, New Jersey is already getting caught in the web of fracking as South Jersey Gas proposes to build a 22-mile fracked gas pipeline through the heart of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. This pipeline would carve up our Pinelands, bisecting pristine forests, and threaten our rivers, streams and wildlife with pipeline explosions and leaks. The pipeline would run right through a 17-trillion gallon pure water aquifer where much of South Jersey gets its drinking water from. 

“Across the state, New Jersey residents are already feeling the real impacts of fracked gas infrastructure. From accident prone pipelines and compressor stations to the toxic waste bi-products from drilling, Governor Christie’s inaction to protect New Jersey from fracking puts the safety of our communities and our drinking water at risk,” said Lauren Petrie, Central Jersey Organizer with Food & Water Watch

The danger of fracking waste was buttressed by a Duke University study released this week that linked elevated levels of radium 200 times above safe levels in sediment in waterways in Pennsylvania to the fracking waste discharged into the streams.

 “The bottom line is that the numbers on fracking add up to an environmental nightmare,” said Dan DeRosa. “For public health and our environment, we need to put an end to fracking.”

On the federal level, Rep. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania (D-Scranton) introduced the CLEANER Act (H.R. 2825) — a bill to close the loophole exempting oil and gas waste from the nation’s hazardous waste law.

“Here in New Jersey, we need to keep fracking and fracking waste out of our state,” concluded Dan DeRosa. “But for places where fracking is already generating billions of gallons of toxic fracking waste and making people sick, it’s time for Washington to step in – officials can start by closing the loophole exempting toxic fracking waste from our nation’s hazardous waste law.”


Environment New Jersey is a state-based, citizen-supported, environmental advocacy organization, working towards a cleaner, greener, healthier future.