City Council Forced to Hold Vote on Proposed Fracking Ban

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The city's five council members will be forced to take an up or down vote on whether to ban a dangerous type of oil and gas drilling within city limits at their October 2 meeting.

The vote, which council members had attempted to avoid by passing a weaker measure after activists asked for a full-on ban.

As we reported last month, residents that were disappointed with the council's weak compromise gathered more than 500 petition signatures to force the issue.  City Clerk Dan Torrissi confirmed that the petition and the council has scheduled it for a public hearing next Wednesday where members of the public can speak on the ordinance.

Now the five-member Council will be given a chance to adopt the law, but if they decline, the issue will be put to voters in the form of a ballot question on November 5.

"We're still taking it under advisement… I personally would like to see other towns get involved, take that approach… I don't think we should be the guinea pig here," said Council Vice President Kevin Egan.

He got his wish last week when our neighbor to the north, Highland Park, became the first in the state to ban the dangerous drilling practice.

Food & Water Watch, the consumer advocacy organization spearheading the effort to ban fracking, held a screening of the film "Gasland Part 2" last week at the public library.  Organizers say about 40 individuals were in attendance, including Mayor James Cahill, who is allied with all five of the council members.

No City Council members attended the screening, however, and they have been coy when asked how they will address the petition when it comes before them.

The Council's hearing on whether or not to ban fracking will be held on the top floor of City Hall (78 Bayard St.) at 6:30pm on Wednesday October 2.

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Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.