Delaware River Basin Commission May Become Roadblock for Drilling in Wayne County, PA and Other Watershed Counties

The City of Philadelphia is voicing their concerns to the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) about Stone Energy’s request to hydraulically fracture two previously drilled wells in Wayne County, PA. Stone has also made a request to the Commission to withdraw up to 700,000 gallons of water from the West Branch of the Lackawaxen River in Mount Pleasant Township for drilling. Philly’s 17-member City Council voted unanimously to ask the DRBC to not approve the drilling permits until an environmental impact study can be done first.

An environmental impact study, an intensive and time-consuming endeavor, would determine whether natural gas drilling poses a legitimate threat to the Delaware River watershed, a 13,539-square-mile area that encompasses nearly all of Wayne County and is known for its pristine water quality and world-class trout waters.

Commission spokesman Clarke Rupert said Monday the regulator is considering conducting such a study. A decision on a $250,000 appropriation request by the commission is not expected until late 2010.*

In addition to permission from the State Department of Environmental Protection, drillers in the Delaware River Basin watershed area also need permission from the DRBC before they can drill. If the DRBC is not going to make a decision about whether or not to spend $250K on a study “until late 2010,” and if that study is a “time-consuming endeavor,” that means Stone’s request to drill will not be approved until sometime in 2011 at the earliest.

If you’re a landowner (or driller) in Wayne County, or in other counties located in the Delaware River Basin, you may be in for major delays before drilling begins. Let’s hope the DRBC speeds the process along.

*Water World (Mar 30) – Philadelphia dives in to gas drilling issue in Wayne County