Delaware River Basin Commission Issues Draft Natural Gas Regulations
Public Comment Period set through March 16, 2011
West Trenton, New Jersey -- The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) issued draft natural gas rules for the Delaware River Basin today, December 9. The draft rules have been posted on their website with a fact sheet at http://www.state.nj.us/drbc/notice_naturalgas-draftregs.htm
A public comment period of 90 days will close 5:00 pm, March 16 2011. Three public hearings are planned, expected to be held in February; the locations and dates are to be announced.
The proposed public comment process was criticized by the Philadelphia and New York City, both dependent on the for water supply, deserve to be heard at a Hearing located in their cities,” concluded van Rossum. Riverkeeper, Maya van Rossum. “The public is deeply concerned about this issue. For the DRBC to offer a brief 90 day comment period on these complex proposed regulations that will require highly technical analysis and science-based review, is an insult,” said Maya van Rossum. “There is deep interest in the impacts of gas drilling in the Watershed and people want to submit substantive comments that will take time to develop. This is simply not enough time to do that. We need at least 120 days but, in reality, a year is more like it”, said van Rossum. “And there needs to be broad input from various geographic areas since every corner of the Watershed will be impacted in some way. Each of the four Basin states should host a Public Hearing and the major population areas like
The DRBC issuance of the draft rules was objected to at the meeting by Commissioner Mark Klotz from New York who represents New York State. . Governor Paterson filed a letter with the DRBC on December 6 requesting the rules not be issued until New York had completed its environmental review of and horizontal drilling for natural gas in shale formations in
The DRBC action is being taken prior to the issuance of a cumulative impact assessment of gas drilling on the Delaware River Watershed, which is expected to be funded by the federal government in the coming weeks. The issuance is also done over registered objections from NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the NYC Council, Philadelphia City Council, NY Congressman Maurice Hinchey, numerous environmental and conservation organizations, hundreds of individuals who have attended and spoken on the record at DRBC public meetings and at least 8000 written comments submitted by the public.
"It's a grave mistake for the DRBC to rush forward with half-baked regulations before the needed scientific analysis is done through a cumulative impact analysis", said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, and Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
"The cumulative impact assessment that the federal government will be funding in the coming weeks needs to be done in order to inform the gas rules. Without this informed and science-based approach, the DRBC doesn’t have the information to develop comprehensive and effective regulations that are designed to prevent pollution and avoid degradation. We’ll be continuing to fight for that study to be done before regulations are finalized”, said Carluccio.
15 million people rely on the Delaware River for water, including at least 7 million residents in New York City, 1.5 million in Philadelphia and 2.8 million in New Jersey. The Delaware River is a federally designated Wild and Scenic River, recognized by Congress due to its outstanding natural features. The DRBC has classified the entire nontidal River, from Hancock NY to Trenton, New Jersey, as Special Protection Waters based on its exceptional water quality. The DRBC’s Special Protection Waters program mandates an anti-degradation approach. This means that strict regulations are required for to all activities that could have substantial impacts on the water resources of the Basin to prevent any degradation of the existing high qualities of the River.
For more information on gas drilling go to www.delawareriverkeeper.org