Report: DRBC considering fracking ban

 A report from the Associated Press (AP), quoting an anonymous source, says the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) is considering the adoption of a ban on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the entire basin. A de-facto ban has been in place for the past seven years and environmentalists have advocated that the ban be made permanent.

The report was published on September 7, and it said, the commissioners “could vote as early as next week to begin the process of enacting a formal ban on gas drilling” and fracking. The report also said the plan would be announced on September 9, but so far there has been no announcement.  The agenda for the next DRBC meeting on September 13 is available on the DRBC website, and no mention of the possible ban is made.

The commissioners of the DRBC, which is responsible for maintaining water quality in the river basin among other things, is made up of the governors of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and a representative from the US Army Corps of Engineers, who reports to the president of the United States.    

The governors of New York and Pennsylvania are thought to be sympathetic to the adoption of a ban; New Jersey’s Governor Christie is opposed; President Trump has expressed the view that most impediments to drilling should be removed and his administration would almost certainly oppose a ban; a spokesman for John Carney the Governor of Delaware told The River Reporter in the past that he would carefully review any regulations regarding fracking before taking a position on them.

The DRBC had been working on the adoption of new regulations that would cover fracking in the basin in 2010, but because of a split among the commissioners, the review of the regulations was halted and it has not since been revived.

In any case, the story from the AP has sparked comments from environmental groups. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network released a statement saying, “We have been fighting long and hard for the temporary moratorium on drilling and fracking to be transformed into a permanent ban based on the overwhelming evidence that it simply cannot be done safely and is not compatible with the protection of the water resources of the Delaware River Watershed, despite any regulations that the Commission would adopt.”

Catskill Moutainkeeper called for supporters to turn out to the DRBC meeting scheduled for September 13, “to keep the Delaware River Basin frack-free, and forever protected. The DRBC is meeting at Linksz Pavilion, Bucks County Community College, where the commissioners will accept public comment.  We’re showing up with a simple message: ban fracking in the Delaware River Basin.  Can you join us? Need a ride?  We'll have a limited number of seats available for a ride to the meeting. Email for more info.”


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