Delaware River Basin Commission moves toward fracking ban

Paddling on the Delaware River Summer 2017  
             Mark Izeman

But many groups that have been fighting for a permanent ban on fracking warn that the proposed resolution, by failing to ban fracking water withdrawals and the transport and processing of fracking wastewater within the watershed, doesn't go far enough to protect the Delaware's trout, shad, smallmouth and striped bass, or the drinking water it provides for 15 million people.

A commission that oversees drinking water quality for 15 million people took an initial step Wednesday to permanently ban drilling and hydraulic fracturing near the Delaware River and its tributaries, drawing criticism from the natural gas industry as well as from environmental groups anxious that regulators would still allow the disposal of toxic drilling wastewater inside the area. Banning fracking but allowing the dumping of fracking waste undoes the whole goal of the ban in the first place, which is to protect our water.

Yes votes from Pennsylvania, Delaware, and NY.

Commissioner Mark Klotz, representing Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said the state is "strongly supportive of the resolution". None of the other commissioners commented. It's a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Steven Tambini, the commission's executive director, urged critics to withhold judgment until they see the regulations. If adopted, the commission will initiate a public comment period on the draft rulemaking process no later than November 30, 2017.

Group at DRBC meeting
Community members rally outside of the DRBC meeting this past summer. Rob Friedman

Tambini says the final rules would not be voted on until well into next year.

Wolf's office said the resolution calls for "promulgating regulations that would prohibit any water project in the Delaware River Basin proposed for developing oil and gas resources by high-volume hydraulic fracturing".

The ban would apply to two counties in Pennsylvania's northeastern tip that are part of the nation's largest gas field, the Marcellus Shale.

At its meeting Wednesday, the DRBC passed a resolution that directing the basin's director to come up with revised regulations for drilling. "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".

"Given the comprehensive regulatory scheme already in place in Pennsylvania, and the scientific analysis borne of over a decade of natural gas development within the commonwealth, it defies both common sense and logic for the DRBC to conclude that natural gas development can not be done safely within its watershed when Pennsylvania has a proven track record of doing exactly that", wrote MSC President David Spigelmyer and PCBI CEO Gene Barr.

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