Thursday, December 9, 2010

DRBC proposes environmental rules for gas drilling

Regulations governing the siting, construction or use of production and exploratory natural gas wells in the Delaware River Basin were formally proposed today by the Delaware River Basin Commission. (Full copy: DRBC's proposed Natural Gas Development Regulations)

Water use, well-pad siting, water monitoring and wastewater disposal

The rules address water withdrawals and establish well pad siting requirements. They also require pre- and post-project monitoring of surface and groundwater near well pads where high-volume, hydraulic fracturing (fracking) techniques are used.

They also require the monitoring, tracking, and reporting of water use and wastewater treatment and disposal. All wastewater would be required to be transported to approved treatment and disposal facilities.

Expedited approvals

In response to gas-industry complaints that DRBC application approvals can take up to nine months, the proposal provides for a streamlined (less than 30 day) "approval by rule" process for some natural gas development projects.

Fee to cover potential environmental damage

The Commission plans to require natural gas companies to pay a "financial assurance" fee of $125,000 per gas well "for the plugging, abandonment and restoration of natural gas wells and the remediation of any pollution from natural gas development activities."

Three public hearings

Three public hearings will be scheduled during the 90-day comment period to receive oral testimony on the proposed rulemaking. Details will be released as soon as the dates and locations have been confirmed, according to a DRBC news release.

New York governor urges delay

The proposal comes just days after New York's Gov. David Paterson called on the Commission to hold off  on adopting any regulations until his state completes its current study of the potential environmental impacts of natural gas well drilling.
See: DRBC hears from NY & NJ on impending fracking rules. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also has launched a study that is expected to produce national standards for natural gas exploration, including the use of fracking. 

New Jersey weighs anti-fracking legislation

The New Jersey Assembly's Environment and Solid Waste Committee today will take testimony on two bills seeking to block the use of fracking.

AJR 61 (Wagner/Gusciora) urges Delaware, New York, and Pennsylvania join New Jersey in
disapproving requests for withdrawing water for hydraulic fracturing and enact
bans on use of such drilling practices. 

AR 112 (Wagner/Gusciora) Urges the passage of U.S. House Bill  H.R. No. 2766 which would repeal
the exemption for hydraulic fracturing under the federal 27 “Safe Drinking Water Act.”


Water agency publishes gas drilling regulations
Delaware River Basin Commission to release fracking rules


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