Appalachian Basin

Pa. DEP Secretary Tells Sen. Baker Fracking ‘Has Been Fine on the SRBC Side’

Pennsylvania State Sen. Lisa Baker (R) questioned Pa. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Patrick McDonnell at the Senate budget hearings this week, and his answers were a major blow to the Delaware River Basin Commission’s (DRBC) proposed fracking ban. Not only did Sec. McDonnell admit that he is the representative for both the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) and the DRBC, but that in regard to fracking, “what we’ve seen in the studies that we’ve seen are; it has been fine on the SRBC side.”

You can watch the entire exchange in the following video courtesy of Natural Gas Now:

After landowners, elected officials and others repeatedly testified at the recent Waymart DRBC hearing about the SRBC’s 2017 study that found “no discernable impacts” from fracking in the basin, activists tried to discredit the findings. During the final phone hearing this week, Delaware Riverkeeper Tracy Carluccio even went as far as to say she had spoken to someone at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and that USGS discredited the study. That’s a direct contradiction to what Sec. McDonnell told Sen. Baker this week.

And he’s not the only one saying so. One of the authors of that research, hydrogeologist Blayne Diacont, testified in Schnecksville that as someone intimately familiar with the monitoring that has occurred in the Susquehanna River Basin,

“I am in a unique position to state that I strongly believe that [DRBC’s] concerns are grossly overemphasized, misrepresented, and that each one of them can be addressed through appropriate regulation.  You only need to look at your adjacent basin and sister agency for guidance in this regard.”

You can read his entire testimony here.

Sec. McDonnell also emphasized that here in the Commonwealth, “we have very good oil and gas regulations.” Those same regulations that have safely allowed for the Marcellus Shale to drive U.S. natural gas development, and in turn brought major economic and environmental benefits to Pennsylvania, would also be in place in the Delaware River Basin.

As such, the question remains: What is the DRBC really basing its proposed ban on, because it certainly isn’t the scientific evidence coming out of its neighboring basin.

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