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Township Council Introduces Anti-Fracking Ordinance

Brian Levine1

Mayor Brian Levine did not support the anti-fracking ordinance, saying it was not needed.

Although they’re not sure it would ever happen in Franklin, the Township Council at its March 11 meeting introduced an ordinance to ban fracking.

The vote was not unanimous; Mayor Brian Levine (R), saying there really isn’t any opportunity for the practice within township borders, voted against it.

The amendment to the township’s quarrying and blasting ordinance is the result of a request made by several residents at a February council meeting.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the process used to extricate natural gas from the Earth. Supporters maintain that it is a safe procedure, but opponents contend it can lead to pollution of water and air and pose other health risks.

Levine said that he “not really fond” of what he called “symbolic ordinances” such as this one.

“They cost staff time and taxpayers’ money,” Levine said. “I don’t want to take staff time and taxpayers’ money for this.”

Besides, Levine said, “within Franklin, there is no opportunity for fracking.”

Deputy Mayor Brian Regan (D-At Large) said that while he has no “opinion one way or the other,” he would support the ordinance’s introduction “so that thee could be a debate on it.”

Councilman Phil Kramer, (D-Ward 3) said there’s no place in the township where he would want fracking to be allowed.

Kramer said he did not know if there were any locations in Franklin suitable for fracking, but, he said, why encourage people to search for them in the first place?

Councilwoman Roz Sherman (D-Ward 2) noted that U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-12) is against fracking, and “when a man like Rush Holt stands up in Congress and says we don’t need fracking, I don’t need too much more persuasion” to oppose it.

More needs to be known about the long-term effects of fracking, said Councilman Rajiv Prasad (D-At Large).

“We should err on the side of caution,” he said. “We’re only one community, but at least we can go on record and say this is how we feel.”

Councilman Ted Chase (D-Ward 1) rattled off several “reasons to oppose fracking:” the use of much water, the pollution of water, and the escape of potentially harmful radon gas being three.

“At least until the time where they make fracking completely safe, I would support an ordinance against fracking,” he said.

A public hearing on the ordinance is set for the council’s March 25 meeting.

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