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Township Council Passes Anti-Fracking Ordinance Amendment

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Claremont Road resident John Walker told the Township Council that it may one day regret banning fracking in the township.

Hydraulic fracturing – fracking – is now banned in the township, thanks to an ordinance amendment passed March 25 by the Township Council.

Fracking is a process by which natural gas is extracted from the Earth. Proponents say it’s a safe process, while opponents say it poses numerous health and environmental threats.

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

Support was not unanimous; Mayor Brian Levine (R) repeated his criticism of the measure in voting against it. Levine said he’s not fond of what he called “symbolic” ordinances, into which category, he said, this one falls because there’s really no opportunity for fracking in the township.

“What’s next?” he said. “Let’s pass an ordinance so that we don’t have a nuclear plant in town.”

“You can’t frack in Franklin,” Levine said, “there’s nothing in our future. And if there was, the state Legislature would overrule us anyway.”

Although the measure was sure to pass, based on comments made at the last council meeting when it was introduced, the vote attracted a handful of anti-fracking activists from within and without the township.

Steve Levine of Stone Manor Drive told the council that the federal Environmental Protection Agency has not yet completed its study of fracking’s safety issues.

“I don’t believe the safety or environmental issues of fracking have been addressed,” he said.

Claremont Road resident John Walker was the lone fracking supporter to address the council. Walker said he has a 10-acre plot in Pennsylvania that’s being used for fracking by a natural gas company, and he’s suffered no ill effects.

“You’re not being told the full story on fracking,” he said. “It works, it’s successful, it’s also evolving.”

“You might some day regret banning fracking, because it’s benefiting a lot of towns around the country,” Walker said.

Although it does not currently appear that fracking could happen in the township, “that could change,” said Councilman Phil Kramer (D-Ward 3). “This is cheap insurance against that.”

“An abundance of caution tells us that you ban it, and then let them tell us it’s safe,” said Councilman Rajiv Prasad (D-At Large).

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