NEWARK, N.J., March 28 (UPI) -- New Jersey lawmakers say they are considering a bill that would outlaw the natural gas drilling process of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," in the state.
Gas drilling using fracking in the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania is flushing vast quantities of contaminated wastewater into rivers, environmentalists say, and they're worried the practice may cross the Delaware River into New Jersey, The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger.
In fracking, a mix of water, sand, and chemicals is injected into a well at high pressure to fracture the rock, causing natural gas to flow more freely.
The practice in western Pennsylvania has opened up the previously inaccessible Marcellus Shale underground rock formation.
Environmentalists say a potentially gas-rich shale formation lies deep beneath a section of northwest New Jersey as well.
Critics say the wastewater created during the fracking process could create a serious public health risk.
"There have been too many reports of contamination by fracking operations to let the practice continue without better oversight," Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., said in a statement earlier this month. "When it comes to our drinking water, safety must be the top priority."