DELAWARE RIVER — The issue of fracking has been something of a gray area in the Delaware River Basin for more than a decade now. That could possibly change this week. Depending on …
DELAWARE RIVER — The issue of fracking has been something of a gray area in the Delaware River Basin for more than a decade now. That could possibly change this week. Depending on when you’re reading this, perhaps it already has.
On Wednesday last week, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) announced a special meeting for Thursday, February 25 at 10:30 a.m. to “consider final action on DRBC’s Proposed Amendments to the Administrative Manual and Special Regulations Regarding Hydraulic Fracturing Activities.”
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a drilling technique in which liquid and other materials are injected into the ground at high pressures to extract natural gas from shale formations thousands of feet below the surface. It’s a contentious issue between environmentalists who say it’s unsafe, a threat to public health and an exacerbation to the climate crisis, and proponents who say that safety improvements in recent years make fracking a viable money-making opportunity for residents who can potentially lease out their land as drilling sites for natural gas companies. Since 2010, the DRBC has avoided taking a strong stance on fracking one way or the other. The natural gas industry, however, has been blocked by a de facto moratorium, which has been criticized by advocates on both sides.
The de facto moratorium has invited multiple lawsuits over the years. Most recently, a legal challenge from the Wayne Land and Mineral Group is going to trial over the DRBC’s definition of the word “project.” The landowner group argues that its proposed drilling activities do not fall under the commission’s definition of a “project,” and therefore, the DRBC has no authority to regulate them.
And already this year, Wayne County’s Sen. Lisa Baker, Sen. Gene Yaw of Williamsport, the PA Senate Republican Caucus and Damascus Township together filed a lawsuit challenging the DRBC’s moratorium, arguing that it usurps legislative authority and robs residents of their private property rights without proper compensation. The Wayne County Commissioners, in a 2-1 vote, later approved a motion to join this lawsuit as a plaintiff.
Check www.riverreporter.com/news for updates on this meeting.