June 19, 2013 —
“The Wayne County Commissioners request that the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) abandon any proposed plans to regulate natural gas drilling beyond the already established functions that focus on water quantity and water quality data collection and analysis.”
That line of the commissioners’ June 13 letter to DRBC pretty much summarized the county’s position toward the commission’s moratorium on natural gas drilling.
Approving their letter, commissioner Wendell Kay said the correspondence was based on “DRBC’s inaction… There has been no action on rules and regulations over which they believe they have jurisdiction. We’re asking them to step aside with the exception of water volume and quality.”
Commissioner Jonathan Fritz said the DRBC postponement, since November of 2011, has surpassed any reasonable timeframe for issuing regulations for Marcellus gas drilling, and will “likely be postponed indefinitely.”
Fritz said the commissioners feel that “Wayne residents are being deprived of economic benefits and the freedom to make land use decisions.”
Chairman Brian Smith did not attend the June 13 meeting, but later signed the letter with his two colleagues.
Both Fritz and Kay said they felt a majority of Wayne residents supported the Marcellus drilling. Kay tempered his remarks saying, “I feel the majority endorse it. It’s hard to quantify,” he said, but the majority has favored drilling “based on the public forums we’ve all attended.”
Fritz said Wayne County was asking DRBC to use the regulatory model put forth recently by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission—to stay in its own lane of expertise, managing water volume and quality.
In asking DRBC to “stay in its own lane,” the commissioners’ letter quoted the opening lines of a May 8 commentary by Susquehanna River Basin Commission Executive Director Paul Swartz.
Swartz wrote that “when a regulatory agency chooses to stray out of its lane of expertise and mission, it can have profound programmatic and legal consequences. Most important, however, I believe it does the public a disservice.”
Route 6 upgrade
At the meeting on June 6, the Wayne County Commissioners endorsed PennDOT construction plans for the widening and upgrading of a commercial strip of U.S. Route 6 in Texas Township.
According to PennDOT, the plan is to widen the existing two-lane road between State Route 652 and Brook Road (SR 2009) which is just west of Joe’s Kwik Mart.
Other work includes concrete curbing, storm-water drainage system, driveway adjustments, guide rail, signs and pavement markings.
Speaking after the June 6 commissioners’ meeting, commissioner Jonathan Fritz and commission chair Brian Smith voiced their support of PennDOT plans presented at a recent informational meeting.
Commissioner Wendell Kay did not attend the morning meeting and was not available for comment.
Smith called the decision “a no-brainer.” He said the plans for the projected 2016 work looked like a good design. “There is a lot of traffic turning there and the road needs a third lane.”
Fritz said the daily highway traffic count of 14,450 determined the need, saying “safety is paramount.”
Both agreed PennDOT would have challenges with drainage and water during the work, but Smith added that the commissioners had won assurances that efforts would be made to keep businesses along the stretch open during construction.