Appalachian Basin

DRBC Will Make a Decision…Finally!

The Delaware River Basin Commission has been dragging their feet for the last three plus years in developing regulations for the practice of natural gas related water withdrawals from the Delaware River and its tributaries. Their delay and indecision has meant that no development could take place in the DRBC, leaving residents in locations like Wayne County, Pennsylvania and Delaware County, New York wondering when they will get to see the progress and economic development of their neighbors in the Susquehanna River Basin. Well folks, wait no longer, because the DRBC has finally decided to make a decision!

I know what you’re thinking–haven’t they said this before?  Didn’t they say back on June 1 at the XTO water withdrawal hearing in Deposit, New York that they would make a decision on that application in July…and then September? What makes this time different and will they really make a decision? We believe they will.

A lot has taken place since the DRBC hearings were held in Trenton, New Jersey, Liberty, New York and Honesdale, Pennsylvania in February. Statements like Carol and John Woodmansee and Betty Sutliff made in the following videos finally seem to be making an impact. On top of the hearings, the DRBC has also been sifting through thousands of comments, many of which came in the shape of form letters, since the comment period closed in April. Or, perhaps with the release of the SGEIS and the comment period beginning in New York State, the commissioners simply realized the time for stalling has come to an end.

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Whatever the reasoning, the DRBC has decided to finally come out and make a decision…we hope. This will not take place at their normal meeting scheduled for September 21, instead they will focus an entire special meeting scheduled for October 21 in Trenton, New Jersey to consider adoption of the regulations.

The last few years have seen considerable progress in gas exploration technologies and related regulations.  Both New York and Pennsylvania appear to be moving towards regulations that permit the states and their residents to realize economic benefits, while simultaneously providing adequate safety and environmental sensitivity.  I hope that the revised DRBC regulations will follow their examples and I am encouraged by the scheduled DRBC vote on October 21.

Mike Uretsky of the Northern Wayne Property Owners Coalition

Okay, so they say “consider” which could mean more delay, but like Mike, since they are opening the meeting to the public and are not holding a public hearing in conjunction with the meeting, we are cautiously optimistic about the outcome.

Not holding a public hearing is good news for two reasons. It could mean the commissioner’s have heard enough and are ready to come to a decision,  good or bad for natural gas development. Also, we won’t have to hear our NIMBY friends rehash the same debunked arguments in attempt to derail needed forward progress. More importantly, though, is that this means they will take a look at their “Regulations at a Glance” and the full regulations, as well as the comments to see what the DRBC proposed and why so many on our side of the debate were concerned with the initial draft.

The signs are hopeful that many of those issues have been addressed but the important thing is that finally, at long last, several years after the SRBC acted, the DRBC is ready to move.  If you can, come to Trenton on October 21 to let the DRBC know you are still eagerly awaiting  their decision.  The waters of dissent are receding against the force of reason (we hope).

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