TRENTON, N.J., Aug. 26 (UPI) -- State petroleum groups applauded a New Jersey move on shale gas but environmental groups said continued fracking would send the wrong message.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed legislation that would have permanently banned hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the state. He ordered state officials to begin the process of drawing up regulations to ensure the process is conducted safely.
James Benton, executive director of the New Jersey Petroleum Council, in a statement applauded Christie's decision as the right one for the natural gas-rich state.
"A balanced approach to the development of our domestic resources can provide remarkable opportunity for New Jersey and our nation's energy security," he said.
Christie opted for a one-year moratorium on fracking instead of a full ban.
Advocacy group Food and Water Watch said the decision showed oil and gas profits come before public interest.
"The state legislature should protect New Jerseyans from the public health and environmental hazards of fracking by overturning Christie's decision," the group's Executive Director Wenonah Hauter said in a statement.
State lawmakers in the predominately Democratic state approved of the ban. Christie and his lieutenant governor are Republicans.
Critics of fracking say chemicals used in the process can contaminate groundwater. Several energy companies and some state regulators challenge those claims.
The United States has some of the richest deposits of shale gas in the world.