Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Obama says frack on, DRBC, but study, too

"The Obama administration supports a full study of the effects of gas drilling in the watershed that provides drinking water for Philadelphia and New York City, but it doesn't want to wait until it's finished for drilling to begin."

Mike Soraghan of Greenwire broke the story yesterday in the New York Times' Green blog.

Gen. Peter "Duke" DeLuca of the Army Corps of Engineers outlined the position in a letter (pdf) written to Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) and released today.

The letter offers the first indication of the administration's position on gas drilling in the Northeast since the day after the Nov. 2 midterm election when President Obama highlighted gas drilling as a potential area of common ground with Republicans (Greenwire, Nov. 4).

DeLuca, the Army Corps' North Atlantic division engineer, is the federal representative on the Delaware River Basin Commission, which is developing regulations for gas drilling in eastern Pennsylvania and upstate New York.

Hinchey and local environmentalists want the commission to keep its drilling moratorium until its staff does a "cumulative impacts" study, a process that could take years. Drilling supporters want the commission to move ahead as quickly as possible and dislike that the commission has blocked drilling in Pennsylvania while drilling continues rapidly in the rest of the state.

DeLuca's letter, dated Nov. 24, received by Hinchey yesterday and released today, says that he has consulted extensively with other agencies and developed an administration position on drilling in the 13,539-square-mile watershed.

"The administration's position is to continue fully supporting the need for a cumulative impact study," DeLuca wrote. "Simultaneously, all these agencies support the DRBC's decision to develop and release draft natural gas regulations."
What do you think about the Obama administration's approach? Let us know in the comment box below.  If one isn't visible, click on the tiny 'comments' link to activate it.


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