Wolf Votes to Ban Fracking in Delaware River Basin

Delaware-River-Basin

The group oversees water quality in the Delaware River, which supplies Philadelphia and half of New York City with drinking water.

Leaders from the states bordering the Delaware River have taken the first step towards drafting rules that could permanently ban fracking in the Delaware River Basin. New Jersey abstained from the vote. The agency postponed the gas development review in 2010 and failed to act on adopting new rules in 2011, leaving in place the de facto moratorium.

While Environment America and its state affiliates in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York (PennEnvironment, Environment New Jersey, and Environment New York, respectively) strongly support the proposal to ban fracking in the Delaware River watershed, the organizations also called on DRBC to close loopholes that exist in their current proposal. If the majority votes to do so, staff then would issue the proposed regulations by November 30, kicking off a public comment process.

Tambini says the final rules would not be voted on until well into next year.

A Cabot Oil and Gas natural gas drill is viewed at a hydraulic fracturing site on January 17, 2012 in Springville, Pennsylvania.

The ban would apply to two counties in Pennsylvania's northeastern tip that are part of the nation's largest gas field, the Marcellus Shale.

Fracking is a technique that uses huge volumes of pressurized water, along with sand and chemicals, to crack open gas-bearing shale rock deep underground.

The Delaware River Basin Commission will consider setting in motion new regulations on hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River and its watershed at its quarterly meeting Wednesday morning. A year later, the five-member panel was scheduled to vote on a set of draft regulations that would have allowed drilling and fracking to proceed, but it abruptly cancelled a vote amid opposition from some commission members.

"Given the comprehensive regulatory scheme already in place in Pennsylvania, and the scientific analysis borne of over a decade of natural gas development within the commonwealth, it defies both common sense and logic for the DRBC to conclude that natural gas development can not be done safely within its watershed when Pennsylvania has a proven track record of doing exactly that", wrote MSC President David Spigelmyer and PCBI CEO Gene Barr.

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