DRBC Posts Proposed Fracking Rules for Delaware River Basin

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) has finally posted proposed new natural gas drilling regulations for the environmentally sensitive watershed. According to media reports, both critics and proponents of <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/hydraulic_fracturing_fracking">hydraulic fracturing seem to agree that DRBC’s drilling regulations will open the Delaware River Basin to fracking.

According to a report from The Philadelphia Inquirer, the new rules, if adopted, would permit only 300 wells to be drilled in the Delaware River Basin until a reassessment is done after 18 months. The regulations also call for more water monitoring, more water-use restrictions, and more money to be set aside for remediation. The 100-plus page document is a revision of the draft released by the Commission last year, which had garnered more than 69,000 public comments.

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 City’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. 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 is expected to vote on the proposed rules at a November 21 special meeting, and if they are passed, the regulations would become effective 60 days later. At that point, drillers could start applying for permits, and it wouldn’t be long before fracking commenced in the Basin.

Drillers are pleased at that prospect. “We appreciate DRBC’s acknowledgment that state regulators should continue to closely oversee well construction and operation activities in an effort to avoid unnecessary duplication,” Kathryn Klaber, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, told the Inquirer.

Fracking opponents, however, are less than enthusiastic.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is suing the Commission to keep fracking out the basin, blasted the proposal for lacking a requirement for a full environmental impact study for the thousands of wells that could eventually be drilled, recordonline.com reported.

Delaware Riverkeeper deputy director, Tracy Carluccio, also criticized the DRBC for “leaving the actual regulation of drilling and fracking of wells to the states.”

“Pennsylvania doesn’t have adequate protection and New York’s rules aren’t even in place,” she said. “This is totally unacceptable,” she told recordonline.com

“The Upper Delaware River is a nationally recognized ecological treasure and because of its pristine nature is able to provide clean drinking water for millions of people. Now we have the DRBC proposing how to trash it,” Wes Gillingham, program director for Catskill Mountainkeeper, told MidHudsonNews.com

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