Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Bill Introduced Again To Require Drilling Rights Compensation If DRBC Adopts Fracking Ban

On February 19, Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) reintroduced legislation-- Senate Bill 305-- declaring an action to ban fracking in the Delaware River Watershed by the Delaware River Basin Commission an act of eminent domain requiring compensation for property owners for drilling rights.
Last year’s bill-- Senate Bill 1189-- was reported out of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee just 12 days after it was introduced in June of last year and died in the Senate Appropriations Committee at the end of session.
Opposition by members of the Senate and House to a proposed oil and gas fracking ban in the Delaware River Watershed goes back to an action taken by the Delaware River Basin Commission in 2009 to impose a moratorium on new natural gas wells until DRBC could adopt requirements to regulate drilling.
In December 2017, DRBC formally proposed draft amendments to its regulations and a plan to prohibit high volume hydraulic fracturing in the watershed and held extensive hearings on the proposal.
In April 2018, DRBC posted all the comments it received on the proposal, but has not yet set a timetable for finalizing the proposal.
In an unusual step, Sen. Baker joined Sen. Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) and Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) in actions in 2016 and in 2018 to intervene in a Wayne County landowner federal court challenge to DRBC’s actions that was dismissed in 2017 and overturned and continued in court in 2018.
Last June, the House State Government Committee held a hearing where Wayne County Commissioner Joseph Adams said he believes the Delaware River Basin Commission stands in the way of economic development in his County with its regulation of water withdrawals and water quality, and oil and gas development in particular with its proposed fracking moratorium.
Adams said he believes science should be brought to bare on regulating oil and gas drilling and not a blanket moratorium, especially with the track record of gas development in other areas of the state.
He noted he and his wife have their names on the deeds of over 5,000 acres in the county.
He said property owners should be compensated for the loss of the right to develop their land if DRBC finalizes the fracking ban and supported Sen. Baker’s previous bill.  
Adams suggested a water use fee be imposed on water users in the Delaware Watershed to pay oil and gas rights owners.  He estimated the fee would be about $20 per month per person.
The bill has again been referred to the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.  A sponsor summary of the bill is available.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Subscribe To Receive Updates:

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner