Appalachian Basin

Shale Proponents to DRBC: Safe Development in SRB Shows There’s No Justification for Fracking Ban

The first set of hearings for the proposed Delaware River Basin high volume hydraulic fracturing ban were held Tuesday in Waymart, Pa. Landowners, business leaders, health professionals, elected officials and industry turned out in Waymart – which is just across the border from extensive shale development taking place in the Susquehanna River Basin (SRB) – to tell the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to look to the lack of impacts from fracking in the SRB and allow fracking in the DRB.

EID was on hand to livestream much of the Waymart hearings. Here’s a recap, complete with videos, of some of the testimony:

Elected Officials

Elected officials at the state, county and local levels were present to testify to the need and desire to allow fracking in their districts.

Pa. Sen. Lisa Baker

Andrew Seder spoke on behalf of Pa. Sen. Lisa Baker. Sen. Baker’s district is split between counties in the SRB and DRB, and includes two counties — Susquehanna and Wyoming — that have seen extensive shale development, as well as Wayne and Pike counties, which are believed to be the only two counties in the DRB with commercially viable natural gas.

Sen. Baker’s testimony explained the Susquehanna River Basin Commission’s (SRBC) finding of “no discernible impacts” from fracking in the SRB after nearly a decade of continuous monitoring. Also mentioned was that the Senator is proposing legislation directed at the DRBC’s actions in regard to fracking.

Hear the entire testimony in the following video:

Pa. Rep. Jonathon Fritz

Pa. Rep. Jonathon Fritz, whose district includes Susquehanna County in the SRB and Wayne County in the DRB, described what has occurred in the two counties over the seven-plus years that the DRBC has delayed allowing development.

“When I testified in front of the DRBC seven-plus years ago, I mentioned that I came from a family of water well drillers. Our purpose was to drill below the earth’s surface to access an essential-to-life natural resource: that being water. I view natural gas the very same way – an essential to life natural resource, one that has been long-harvested in Pennsylvania with 10,000-plus wells outside of the Delaware River Basin.”

“We were led to believe that eventually the natural gas development that was benefiting landowners, businesses and consumers everywhere else in the state would be realized here. But here’s what has happened in the seven-plus years since…farms have gone out of business, drastically changing our landscape. Wayne County now has less than 60 dairy farms. Wayne County’s population has declined. Wayne County receives approximately $100,000 per year in Act 13 monies – that’s versus $8 million in Susquehanna County. Folks, $8 million in a rural economy, that translates into real tax relief.”

Watch Rep. Fritz’s full testimony in the following video:

Brian Smith – Wayne County Commissioner and local dairy farmer

“This is an opportunity for our country. Not just Wayne County. Not just the Delaware River Basin Commission. But for our country in an energy source that’s a clean burning energy source.”

 

Dan Rutledge – Damascus Township Supervisor

“Three of you [DRBC commissioners], a majority, sit on the SRBC and know full well that both rivers are significant sources of drinking water, both basins include exceptional quality water, and that the SRBC’s monitoring programs have not detected discernible impacts on the quality of the Basin’s water resources as a result of natural gas development.  If you are a landowner in Susquehanna River Basin, you are experiencing prosperity and in the Delaware River Basin, you are experiencing poverty.”

Business and Health Professionals

Professionals in economics and health came out to discuss what is – and isn’t – occurring in the two basins based on state data.

Mary Beth Wood – Executive Director of Wayne Economic Development Corporation (WEDCO)

“When speaking about natural gas development in the Susquehanna River Basin, Pennsylvania is positively giddy because very intentional and strategic activity takes place to attract natural gas users and field economic opportunity within the Commonwealth… Everywhere but here where we desperately need economic stimulus.”

Debbie Gillette – Executive Director of the Chamber of Northern Poconos

“Drilling was allowed and has continued in the much larger 27,486-square-mile watershed of our neighbors in the Susquehanna River Basin. The actions of the SRBC within Pennsylvania tell us that there is little or no risk with hydraulic fracturing.”

Susan Mickley, MPH – Freelance Health Researcher, DRB resident

Susan Mickley discussed her recent findings that mortality rates have decreased in the most heavily drilled counties in Pennsylvania, according to Pennsylvania Department of Health data.

“Denying the economic and public health benefits to the citizens in the Basin is tantamount to condemning these communities to higher mortality rates and declining economies.”

Landowners

Landowners from Pennsylvania and New York showed up to ask the DRBC to take into consideration the examples the examples of good environmental stewardship shared by DRB residents and the documented evidence SRBC’s continuous monitoring provides on the safety of fracking.

Lonny Schaefer – New York farmer

“What’s it take to make cheap food? Cheap energy to help us make it. So, if you want cheap food, people, get us some cheap energy!”

Jane Varco – Fourth Generation Wayne County Landowner

“For over 200 years, we who live here in Wayne County have protected our land and water. Thanks, but no thanks, to all those who feel they must tell us how to protect our environment… Every day our Pennsylvania governor and legislatures drink, wash and cook with the water from the Susquehanna River Basin with none of the dire results that were forecasted by some folks…”

Peter Wynne –

“Over the years, the explanation given for the commission’s inaction has been the claim that the commissioners were uncertain about the safety of drilling wells in the various shale layers that lie beneath our region … But since then, something like 1,100 natural gas wells have been drilled and fracked next door in Susquehanna County where, geologists tell us, the geology is essentially the same as ours in Wayne County. And there has yet to be a single instance where hydraulic fracturing fluids have seeped upward and contaminated the freshwater aquifers that lie many thousands of feet above the shale.”

Industry

Both the Marcellus Shale Coalition and the American Petroleum Institute gave testimony about the large number of wells that their members have safely developed in Pennsylvania.

Patrick Henderson – Marcellus Shale Coalition

“To prohibit the development of this critical energy resource, as the Commission seeks to do, defies common sense, sound science, responsible policymaking, and the corporate charter and authority of the Commission.”

Stephanie Meadows – American Petroleum Institute

“While both the commission and critics continue to contend that the stimulation process can pollute and will pollute water resources, that accusation is simply not grounded in the science – or to be more clear – that is not what the sound science shows.”

To view more of these testimonies, be sure to check out @EIDMarcellus on Twitter. DRBC hearings will also take place Jan. 25 in Philadelphia, Pa., Feb. 22 in Schnecksville, Pa. and by phone on March 6.

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