Appalachian Basin

Pa. Governor Works with Ohio, W. Va. To Produce More Natural Gas… And with the DRBC to Ban Fracking?

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf renewed his collaboration with the governors of Ohio and West Virginia to support shale gas development in the Appalachian Basin this week, saying that he’s proud to be a part of ensuring “that we are doing everything we can to support additional development – and the jobs and economic growth that go with it – in a region with an unprecedented natural resource.”

And while he’s right – this collaboration and shale development are creating tremendous opportunities for the Commonwealth – his statements are pretty hypocritical considering he also “proudly” supports a ban on any fracking in Pennsylvania’s Delaware River Basin (DRB).

Gov. Wolf’s support of a DRB fracking ban isn’t new, as it was one of his major campaign promises, but it is simply mystifying that he can acknowledge the “jobs and economic growth” that go with shale development in one part of the state and deny access to these benefits to folks on the wrong side of a water basin line without any rational reason for doing so.

It’s a contradictory position that puts politics ahead of science, as was evident when Gov. Wolf’s representative on the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), Pa. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Sec. Patrick McDonnell, recently told Pa. State Senator Lisa Baker (R) that in regard to fracking,

“[W]hat we’ve seen in the studies that we’ve seen are; it has been fine on the [Susquehanna River Basin Commission] side.”

Despite this evidence, Gov. Wolf advised Sec. McDonnell to vote to move forward with draft DRBC regulations that include a ban on fracking in the DRB.

The reality is, as hydrogeologist Blayne Diacont testified at a DRBC hearing earlier this month, “we have the ability to successfully produce clean burning natural gas while also being great stewards of the environment” and that DRBC’s “concerns are grossly overemphasized, misrepresented, and that each one of them can be addressed through appropriate regulation.”

Gov. Wolf’s statements that “[t]he shale gas resources in the Appalachian Basin represent enormous economic opportunity not just for Pennsylvania, but for the region as a whole,” is an admission that he too believes that shale can be safely developed in Pennsylvania in a way that is beneficial for all. And why wouldn’t he, when his own DEP head has acknowledged that is exactly what is occurring in the Susquehanna River Basin.

In light of this, and as the DRBC comment period on its proposed fracking ban comes to a close next week, the question remains: Will Gov. Wolf stick to the science and evidence that his own administration is touting and advise Sec. McDonnell to vote against a ban on natural gas development for nearly half of the state?

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