Petroleum Exec. Says Outright Ban of Fracking is Unwarranted

Jim Benton, Executive Director of the NJ Petroleum Council, defends the practice which he says has been "employed for over 60 years to produce domestic, secure natural gas."

The practice of pumping fluid into the ground to extract gas, known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” is provoking passions on both sides of the debate. Supporters say it’s an important part of building energy independence. Opponents argue that it creates an environmental nightmare.

NJToday’s Mike Schneider spoke with Jim Benton, Executive Director of the NJ Petroleum Council, who defends the practice which he says has been “employed for over 60 years to produce domestic, secure natural gas.”

Earlier this month, Gov. Chris Christie imposed a 1-year ban on the practice rather a permanent ban.

Benton says that New Jersey isn’t a state that attracts fracking because the shale gas supplies sought by the industry is normally found in nearby Pennsylvania. But the precedent that would be established by an outright ban in New Jersey, Benton says, is unwarranted based on the research and technological advances that have made the practice safer than ever before.

Says Benton, “we now have the ability to do horizontal fracking so that the drill can come down and move to those areas that hold the most promise.” But opponents argue that environmentally sensitive areas like the Delaware River Basin could suffer dramatically and that people living in those areas can be sickened long-term, or worse.

Benton says that incidents where drinking water supplies have been contaminated with methane occurred because the practice of securing the well was not done appropriately, and should not occur in the routine experience.

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Related: Watch Group Seeks Permanent Ban of Fracking in New Jersey