September 13, 2017
Delaware, New York, and Pennsylvania have voted to permanently ban fracking in the Delaware River Basin. This is a wonderful example of how a temporary victory for the environment (see 2011 petition success below) can translate into a permanent win for the environment and the people when the public stays involved and keeps applying pressure on its political leaders.
Rep. John Kowalko
The 2011 petition stopped the previous effort to propose fracking in the Delaware River Basin:
For Immediate Release:
November 23, 2011
Contact: Drew Volturo
Work: (302) 744-4001
Cell: (302) 593-5969
More than 1,100 signatures collected in a matter of days
NEWARK – Armed with a petition signed by more than 1,100 people, Newark Rep. John A. Kowalko Jr. urged the Delaware River Basin Commission to oppose hydraulic fracturing of shale in the basin.
Hydraulic fracturing, known as “fracking,” would allow the development of natural gas wells across the northern end of the basin. However, it also would pump water and chemicals into the shale to release the natural gas.
Rep. Kowalko, D-Newark, created an online petition and collected more than 1,100 signatures opposing fracking and has forwarded it to the Delaware River Basin Commission. The commission, which is composed of the governors of Delaware, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and the Army Corps of Engineers, was scheduled to vote on the fracking proposal on Monday, but canceled the meeting after Delaware Gov. Jack Markell announced he would vote “no” on the proposal.
“The people have spoken loudly and clearly. More than 1,100 signatures accumulated in less than a week shows that the public is concerned with protecting the water supply of over 15 million people,” Rep. Kowalko said. “There have been very serious concerns raised about the economic viability of shale-gas drilling and the public health and environmental impacts that would result with slick-water hydraulic fracturing in shale areas bordering the Delaware River Basin.”
Rep. Kowalko said it would be irresponsible to not consider the negative consequences of the fracking process and politically unacceptable to ignore the wishes of the petition signers.
“We can certainly live without this finite amount of gas but our citizens cannot live without clean, drinkable and usable water,” he said.
Now those efforts have helped to permanently ban fracking from the Delaware River Basin:
For Immediate Release:
September 13, 2017
NEWTOWN, Pa. – Governors of Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania, comprising a majority of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), announced today that they had voted in favor of a resolution put forward by the commission to issue draft regulations to permanently ban hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas in the Delaware River Basin.
The DRBC vote was three to one with one abstention in passing the resolution for promulgating regulations that would prohibit any water project in the Delaware River Basin proposed for developing oil and gas resources by high-volume hydraulic fracturing.
Delaware Governor John Carney said that the DRBC resolution is consistent with the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act, a bill introduced by Carney and passed by Congress in 2016, by helping to ensure that the water resources of the basin will be protected for present and future generations. “Fracking could diminish water resources in the Delaware River Basin, both through consumption and degraded water quality,” said Governor Carney. “We are pleased to join both New York and Pennsylvania in voting in favor of this resolution, which will protect public health, and a precious water supply. This action will guarantee that fracking for oil and gas will not threaten water resources in the Basin.”
“Protecting and preserving our water resources is paramount to ensuring the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers and of all residents living within the Delaware River Basin,” Governor Cuomo said. “With this resolution, the DRBC builds on New York’s leadership to protect the environment and public health from hydraulic fracturing, while protecting this vital water source that millions of people depend on every day. I am proud to stand with my colleagues from Delaware and Pennsylvania in approving this critical resolution and we will continue to work on developing the necessary regulations to codify this commonsense resolution.”
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said he was pleased to see the DRBC take a step forward after years of study. “Today, we are acting to protect a watershed that supplies drinking water to more than 15 million people in one of the most densely populated areas of the country. I believe this resolution preserves water quality and water supply for the residents of the watershed, and will protect this precious resource for generations to come,” said Governor Wolf. “I have supported this resolution since I was a candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania, and I am proud that we have worked collaboratively to move this process forward after almost a decade of work at the DRBC.”
The Delaware River Basin, which drains from portions of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, supplies drinking water to more than 15 million people. Governors of the four basin states and a federal representative serve as Delaware River Basin Commissioners, tasked with overseeing a unified approach to managing the river system without regard to political boundaries. The commission has oversight in the basin for water quality protection, water supply allocation, regulatory review (permitting), water conservation initiatives, watershed planning, drought management, flood loss reduction, and recreation.
The DRBC resolution comes after Congressional passage last December of the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act. As jointly authored by then-Congressman Carney and Delaware US Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act requires federal, state and local partners to work together and preserve the basin. Congress passed the Act as part of a larger national legislative package known as the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act.
Development of oil and gas using hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River basin has been an issue since 2010, when the DRBC’s five commissioners voted unanimously to “postpone consideration of well pad dockets until regulations are adopted.” This action effectively placed a de facto, temporary moratorium on drilling for natural gas in several Pennsylvania counties and parts of southern New York. Since 2011, the DRBC and the signatory parties have undertaken extensive discussion and research efforts related to unconventional shale gas drilling which resulted in the resolution passed today.
In addition, to ensure protection of water resources in the Basin and beyond, Pennsylvania and New York have both developed comprehensive programs to effectively manage wastes and waste products produced as a result of high-volume hydraulic hydro-fracturing operations. These protections are an aspect of state programs to manage solid and hazardous wastes, as well as to treat wastes in accordance with the federal Clean Water Act and analogous state clean water programs.