Friday, December 1, 2017

DRBC Proposes Rules Prohibiting Fracking Natural Gas Shales In The Delaware Watershed, Sets Hearings

The Delaware River Basin Commission late Thursday posted revised draft amendments to its regulations and comprehensive plan to prohibit high volume hydraulic fracturing in hydrocarbon bearing rock formations within the Delaware River Basin.
DRBC said the draft rules 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.
They 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.
In the formal notice accompanying the proposed rule, DRBC said, “The use of HVHF [high volume hydraulic fracturing] to extract oil and natural gas from tight shale formations presents risks, vulnerabilities and impacts to the quality and quantity of surface and groundwater resources that have been documented extensively, including in comprehensive reports by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), among others.  
“These reports identify the risks to water resources associated with each of the steps in the “hydraulic fracturing water cycle,” including from water acquisition, consumptive use of water, chemical use, well drilling and construction, wastewater handling and disposal, siting and landscapes and uncertainty over the potential future effects on water resources.
In addition to prohibiting fracking in the Delaware Watershed, the proposal also--
-- Water Exports: Would allow transfer of water from the basin to be used in fracking operations elsewhere with Commission approval.
-- Wastewater Ban: Would allow the import of wastewater from fracking operations from elsewhere for treatment with Commission approval and sets standards for discharges from treatment facilities accepting fracking wastewater
-- Other Changes/Fees: Activities related to fracking, as noted above, are deemed to be projects having a substantial effect on water resources of the basin requiring additional review.  Fees are also proposed to cover the cost of reviews for the new classes of projects.
Public Hearings
DRBC has also schedule four hearing on the regulations to be held in Wayne County and Philadelphia.  They will be held on the following dates--
-- January 25: 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Philadelphia Airport, 4509 Island Ave., Philadelphia, Pa.  Click Here to register to attend.
-- January 25: 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Philadelphia Airport, 4509 Island Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. Click Here to register to attend.
Registration to attend a public hearing is required. Advanced registration will remain open until 5 p.m., December 31, 2017. Shortly after that date, those who have registered to attend will be afforded an opportunity to request speaking time. Elected government officials and their staff will have the opportunity to identify themselves when registering.
The Commission also invites written comment on the draft regulations. Written comments will receive the same consideration as oral comments, and may be submitted until 5 p.m., February 28, 2018.  Written comments and attachments should be submitted through the Commission’s online comments webpage.
Written comments will not be accepted through other methods, such as email, fax or hand delivery, unless an express exception has been granted based on lack of access to the web-based system. Requests for exceptions may be addressed to: Commission Secretary, DRBC, P.O. Box 7360, West Trenton, NJ 08628.
Click Here for a copy of the draft regulations and related documents.
The Delaware RiverKeeper Network released these statements in reaction to DRBC proposal--
“The proposal to ban fracking throughout the Watershed provides the essential protection we need for the Delaware River Basin and all those who drink its water.  But we will not tolerate the degradation and pollution caused by frack wastewater and we will not allow water to be depleted and to fuel fracking elsewhere – it is inconsistent and illogical to allow such activities.  We will work through the DRBC’s public input process for the draft gas regulations to emphatically support the complete ban on fracking that we have fought for and a ban on ALL waste and water related to it and will not rest until we have accomplished this goal,” said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
"While we are thrilled that the DRBC finally heard our demands for a ban on fracking, it doesn't feel like progress to those of us who are not sitting atop shale formations and are, therefore, only losing ground with regulations that allow previously prohibited activities," said Karen Feridun, Founder of Berks Gas Truth.
PennFuture issued this statement on DRBC's action-- “After almost a decade of a ‘de facto’ moratorium, we commend the Commission for taking the next step to make that ban permanent, however, certain aspects of the draft regulations still leave the basin in jeopardy,” said PennFuture President and CEO Jacquelyn Bonomo.  “PennFuture is dedicated to the protection of high quality headwater streams in the Delaware River watershed.”
“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,” said PennFuture Staff Attorney Abigail Jones. “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. These draft regulations appear to be headed in the right direction, but they must go further.”
PennFuture supports a full and complete ban on all fracking activities in the Delaware River Basin. PennFuture will actively engage in the public comment process of the draft regulations issued to ensure that the Commission is fulfilling its mission to “act as stewards of the Basin’s water resources.”

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