Delaware River Basin Commission considers fracking ban

Paddling on the Delaware River Summer 2017  
             Mark Izeman

Paddling on the Delaware River Summer 2017 Mark Izeman

While New York State has yet to decide whether to allow fracking, economically struggling Binghamton has passed a drilling ban which prohibits any exploration or extraction of natural gas in the city for the next two years.

Leaders from the states bordering the Delaware River have taken the first step towards drafting rules that could permanently ban fracking in the Delaware River Basin. Yes votes from Pennsylvania, Delaware, and NY. It was unclear how Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey or the Army Corps had voted. The group oversees water quality in the Delaware River, which supplies Philadelphia and half of New York City with drinking water.

The NRDC's Rob Friedman and Kimberly Ong note that by allowing processing and disposal of wastewater as well as water withdrawal, the proposed rulemaking "would be a step backwards from the existing moratorium, which protects against all of these activities". Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, stimulates gas production by injecting wells with high volumes of chemical-laced water in order to free-up pockets of natural gas below. The rules were issued in draft form, but never adopted. If adopted, the resolution would initiate a process that would seek to formalize the de facto ban that has been in place since the DRBC enacted a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in 2010.

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"Prohibiting the development and enjoyment of one's property rights based exclusively on which watershed a citizen may live or own property in is arbitrary, and sends a chilling message - far beyond the reaches of just the natural gas sector - to those who may be contemplating investing capital and creating jobs in the commonwealth".

Delaware River Basin Commission director Steven Tambini stresses this vote is simply to begin drafting rules with a November 30 deadline.

Environmentalists initially cheered the ban, but soured Monday when the regulations were officially added to Wednesday's agenda.

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"Interfering with Pennsylvania's effective, comprehensive program undermines a crucial source of income for both the state economy and individual families".

Despite that request, Tracy Carluccio of the Delaware River Keeper Network.

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