Friday, July 23, 2010

U.S. House Panel Approves Study Of Fracking Impact On Water Resources In Delaware

Congressman Joe Sestak (D-PA), along with Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), and Rush Holt (D-NJ) announced Friday they have secured approval from a key House panel of $1 million for the U.S. Geological Survey to conduct a cumulative impact study on water withdrawals for hydraulic fracturing of Marcellus Shale natural gas wells in the Delaware River Basin.
The House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies this week approved the funding for the study, which would be conducted in partnership with the Delaware River Basin Commission.
“There is extraordinary economic potential associated with the development of Marcellus Shale resources,” said Cong. Sestak. “However, as the oil spill in the Gulf and the recent explosion in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania reminds us, there is also great risk. One way to ensure proper development is understand the potential impacts. That is why I supported the funding of the cumulative effects of drilling and operation of gas wells on the water supply in the Delaware River Basin. With information from the study, we can make educated decisions on how best to minimize the impacts of drilling, while enhancing the benefits.”
The study will evaluate the cumulative impacts on water supply and resources from additional water consumption for hydraulic fracturing, landscape alteration due to gas well pad development, and changes in water quality resulting from water discharges within the Basin.
Over 15 million people, including New York City and Philadelphia residents, depend on the water resources of the Delaware River Basin. While property owners and local businesses could benefit economically from drilling activities in the Basin, the study is necessary to ensure that these individuals as well as other stakeholders throughout the Basin are not adversely impacted by any Marcellus Shale natural gas development and that the region's water resources are fully protected.
The cumulative impact analysis will help to inform and guide DRBC management policies and practices that both enable economic progress and also ensure protection of public health and the environment. The DRBC has regulatory jurisdiction over all water withdrawals and discharges for Marcellus Shale drilling in the Delaware River Basin.
Congressmen Hinchey and Holt currently serve as co-chairs of the Congressional Delaware River Task Force, a bipartisan group of members of the U.S. House of Representatives from all four basin states (Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) that coordinate congressional efforts to promote the restoration and vitality of the Delaware River Basin and its communities.

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