Regulators Greenlight Measure to Ban Fracking in Delaware River Basin

Gwen Vasquez
September 14, 2017

Officials responsible for protecting water in the Delaware River region across three states took a step Wednesday to ban natural gas hydrofracking.

Environmental groups are upset by a provision that would apparently allow drillers to discharge fracking wastewater in the watershed "where permitted".

The DRBC is led by the governors of the four basin states - Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and NY - and the federal government, represented by the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' North Atlantic division. The vote was 3 to 1 with New Jersey abstaining at this morning meeting in Bucks County PA.

The ban was supported by state representatives from New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. 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.

The DRBC will hold a public meeting to consider the resolution on September 13, 2017.

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"The frackers get our clean water and we get a Superfund site back".

The resolution requires the director to publish for public comment new regulations by November 30.

"You don't know what the rules are going to say yet, so take it easy", he said. More than 10,000 Marcellus wells have been drilled in other parts of Pennsylvania since a natural gas boom began almost 10 years ago, but the industry has been prevented from developing its acreage in the DE watershed. This vote approved initial measures as part of a lengthy process to ban drilling and fracking.

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. "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".

The commissioners will consider changes to the revised draft regulations that may be appropriate based on the comments received.

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