The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) has postponed acting on proposed drilling regulations that could bring <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/hydraulic_fracturing_fracking">hydraulic fracturing and thousands of new natural gas wells to the vital watershed. The DRBC was supposed to act on the proposed drilling regulations during a meeting scheduled for September 21, but according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, it has now scheduled a two-hour meeting to “consider adoption” of the regulations on October 21.
The Delaware River Basin, much of which sits atop the natural gas-rich Marcellus shale, encompasses parts of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey and provides drinking water to 17 million people on the East Coast. It covers 58 percent of the land area of New York Cityâ€™s watershed west of the Hudson River, and the city has spent almost $1.5 billion to protect the drinking water it obtains from the watershed.
According to the Inquirer, several counties in Northeastern Pennsylvania that sit within the basin are believed to have large natural-gas reserves, and thousands of leases have been filed. The DRBC estimates that adoption of its proposed regulations will result in 15,000 to 18,000 gas wells being drilled within the Basin, most of which are expected to be developed by fracking.
Environmentalists and other opponents of fracking in the basin contend that the commission should not institute regulations until an environmental-impact study is done. In May, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed suit against the federal government in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, claiming that the National Environmental Policy Act requires a full environmental review prior to the adoption of any new drilling regulations for the basin.
According to the Inquirer, new drilling regulations for the Delaware River Basin were proposed in December. In February, nearly 400 people testified at six hearings. Written comments were accepted until April 15, and the commission got 69,000 submissions.
Executive Director of the commission, Carol R. Collier, said in a news release that the October 21 meeting will not include a hearing.
Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, told the Inquirer that a two-hour meeting was ridiculous given the extensive public comment.
“It indicates there has been a lot of behind-the-scenes deal-making,” she said, adding, “We are not going to see a truly honest, earnest, vibrant, and open discussion.”
The October 21 meeting, which will be open to the public, will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the Patriots Theater at the War Memorial, 1 Memorial Dr., Trenton, New Jersey.