Hearings on river valley fracking scheduled

REGION — After some six years of a de facto ban on hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River Watershed, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) has issued draft regulations that would officially ban the practice in the basin.

A press release issued on November 30 read, “The revised draft rules prohibit high volume hydraulic fracturing in hydrocarbon bearing rock formations within the Delaware River Basin. They reinforce commission policies to discourage importation of wastewater and exportation of water, and include rules to address the inter-basin transfer of water and wastewater related to hydraulic fracturing. The draft rules also include provisions for ensuring that the treatment and disposal of produced water from hydraulic fracturing does not impair or conflict with the preservation of the waters of the basin for uses in accordance with the DRBC comprehensive plan.”

The draft regulations, however, don’t go quite far enough in the view of some conservation organizations, which would like the DRBC to also ban the disposal of wastewater from fracking projects in the basin as well as other fracking-related activities.

Shortly after DRBC issued its release, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN) issued a statement in response that said, “Today, residents and organizations from throughout the Delaware River Watershed and beyond are celebrating and vowing enthusiastic support for the proposed ban on high volume hydraulic fracturing throughout the Delaware River Watershed in all ‘hydrocarbon bearing rock formations.’ The groups will fight for a ban on all related activities (including wastewater processing and discharges from and water withdrawals for drilling and fracking operations…).”

Wes Gillingham, associate director of Catskill Mountainkeeper, said, “Today, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) is ready to put the final nail in fracking’s coffin for our entire region. This is a huge win to everyone who lives here, and we applaud the DRBC. But what we’ve learned over the past 10 years is that fracking’s impacts are not just at the well pad. Now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and make sure the DRBC does the right thing—we have 90 days for a comment period, and the agency needs to realize that wastewater should not be imported into the basin and withdrawing water from the river should also be banned,”

PennFuture staff attorney Abigail Jones said, “These draft regulations appear to be headed in the right direction, but they must go further. Allowing any of these activities in the basin could jeopardize the almost billion-dollar river recreational economy and the drinking water supply of over 15 million people... PennFuture will continue to fight for the protection of the Delaware River Basin in the coming weeks and months by organizing citizens to speak at upcoming public hearings, and by submitting formal comments with recommendations on how to best proceed.”

There will be a public comment period ending on February 28, 2018 at 5 p.m., during which there will be four public hearings as well as online acceptance of written comments. Written comments will be given the same weight as oral comments.

Members of the public must register to attend public hearings, which are scheduled as follows:

January 23, 2018, 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Ladore Camp, Retreat and Conference Center’s Performing Arts and Recreation Center (PARC) Pavilion, 287 Owego Turnpike, Waymart, PA. Register to attend at http://bit.ly/2ApxOB1.

January 23, 2018, 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Ladore Camp, Retreat and Conference Center’s Performing Arts and Recreation Center (PARC) Pavilion, 287 Owego Turnpike, Waymart, PA. Register to attend at http://bit.ly/2AgHtsV.

January 25, 2018, 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Philadelphia Airport, 4509 Island Ave., Philadelphia, PA. Register to attend at http://bit.ly/2AIPh7P.

January 25, 2018, 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Philadelphia Airport, 4509 Island Ave., Philadelphia, PA. Register to attend at http://bit.ly/2ip6Pyn.

Written comments, along with any attachments, should be submitted at dock ets.drbc.commentinput.com. Submis-sions in other formats will not be accepted unless an express exception has been granted based on lack of access to the web-based system. Requests for exceptions to submitting comments via the web-based system should be addressed to Commission Secretary, DRBC, P.O. Box 7360, West Trenton, NJ 08628.

For more information visit www.nj.gov/drbc/meetings/proposed/notice_hy draulic-fracturing.html.

 

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