Delaware River Basin Commission to Landowners and Drillers: We’re Taking Our Time

As MDN has previously reported, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) continues to block drilling in the Marcellus Shale anywhere within the DRBC’s jurisdiction. The delays in drilling will continue at least until sometime in 2011 (MDN’s estimate) due to an extended public comment period on new regulations they are drafting, and from their previous statements about waiting for a federal grant “later this year” to study drilling. If you own land in the Delaware River Basin, or you’re a drilling company in that area, good luck. All signs point to an anti-drilling group of Commission members who are intentionally dragging their feet.

From a press release issued by the DRBC today:

(WEST TRENTON, N.J.)—The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) at its May 5, 2010 public business meeting directed commission staff to draft regulations for natural gas well pad projects in shale formations in the Delaware River Basin. The commissioners will consider specific natural gas well pad applications after the new regulations are in place.

“The drafting process is already underway, so it made logical sense for the development of new regulations to move forward in advance of any individual project decisions,” DRBC Executive Director Carol R. Collier said in describing the action taken yesterday by the commissioners representing Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and the federal government. The rulemaking process will include public notice and a full opportunity for public comment before the commissioners adopt the regulations.

The DRBC has already conducted a public hearing and received over 2,000 written comments regarding a proposal previously submitted by Stone Energy Corporation for the Matoushek #1 well located in Clinton Township, Wayne County, Pa. The commissioners’ decision to rule upon this and other pending and future specific natural gas well pad project applications after the new regulations are adopted is consistent with many of the public comments submitted.

Commission review of pending or future proposed water withdrawals to be used to supply water to natural gas extraction projects, including Stone Energy’s proposed water withdrawal from the West Branch Lackawaxen River in Mount Pleasant Township, Wayne County, Pa., will proceed in accordance with existing DRBC regulations. The written comments that the DRBC received during the comment period that closed on April 12 pertained to both Stone Energy’s proposed water withdrawal project and its proposed natural gas well drilling project. The earliest that the commission could vote on the Stone Energy proposed water withdrawal project would be its next public business meeting scheduled for July 14, 2010.

*Delaware River Basin Commission Press Release (May 6) – DRBC Will Review Natural Gas Well Pad Projects After Adoption of New Regulations