Regulators Greenlight Measure to Ban Fracking in Delaware River Basin

DRBC's partial ban on fracking a step backward | Letter

A fracking ban may be coming for the Delaware, but is it a step backwards?

"Today, we are acting to protect a watershed that supplies drinking water to more than 15 million people in one of the most densely populated areas of the country", Wolf said Wednesday.

The revised draft rules to be published on a later date would include prohibitions related to the production of natural gas utilizing horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) within the Delaware River Basin.

The resolution approved by the commission says that fracking "presents risks, vulnerabilities and impacts to surface and ground water resources across the country", and directs the staff to draft regulations to ban it. Representatives of the governors of New York, Pennsylvania and DE voted for the measure.

NY banned horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing statewide in 2015.

According to the DRBC, the regulations themselves will not be voted on at the meeting.

The five-member commission is made up of representatives from New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and the federal government. None of the other commissioners commented.

Environmental groups believe fracking harms water quality and exacerbates climate change, while the natural gas industry says it can be used safely and provides a wide range of economic benefits. "This is not a deal that we should be making", Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, told commissioners.

"You don't know what the rules are going to say yet, so take it easy", he said.

A Cabot Oil and Gas natural gas drill is viewed at a hydraulic fracturing site on January 17, 2012 in Springville, Pennsylvania.

Protestors gathered outside before the meeting, calling for a permanent and complete ban on gas drilling and fracking throughout the Delaware River Watershed.

Fracking is a technique that uses huge volumes of pressurized water, along with sand and chemicals, to crack open gas-bearing shale rock deep underground.

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) today adopted a resolution directing the executive director to prepare and publish for public comment by November 30, 2017 a revised set of draft regulations to address natural gas development activities within the Delaware River Basin. "Over the last decade since this battle started, one thing has become crystal clear: the industry has shown that they are either unable or unwilling to comply with basic, common sense environmental laws and safeguards, and that they are unable to frack without chronically polluting, putting our environment and health at extreme risk, and even breaking the law".

In a joint letter Tuesday, the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) and the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry (PCBI) urged Wolf to reject the DRBC's resolution.

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