The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) held it’s final round of public hearings yesterday near its Trenton, NJ headquarters. The hearings held earlier this week in Liberty, NY and Honesdale, PA, along with the hearings yesterday in Trenton, NJ, were for public comment on the DRBC’s proposed new extra layer of drilling regulations for Marcellus Shale gas wells drilled within the Delaware River watershed, which includes portions of Pennsylvania and New York where Marcellus drilling occurs. By all accounts, there was a similar theme from the comments in Trenton: Those in favor of drilling say the regulations are way too restrictive, and those against drilling say they’re not strict enough.
The irony of where the final set of hearings was located (in NJ) was not lost on those whom the DRBC’s regulations would directly affect:
For some of them [drilling supporters], the idea of an unelected body regulating what happens on their rural land – and with the input of people from distant cities and suburbs – is troublesome.
“We just heard somebody from Bricktown, New Jersey, telling me what should happen to my property in Wayne County, Pennsylvania,” said John Woodmansee, a landowner in Buckingham Township. “This room is full of strange things. We need the gas.”*
As with the other hearings, Trenton had a contingent of those opposed to drilling speak before the commission:
Environmental groups and their supporters – most of them not from Northeast Pennsylvania – criticize the regulations as too lax, and giving too much power to the gas-drilling industry to regulate itself. They say the DRBC should hold further hearings and wait years until there are further studies on the effects of drilling.
Jim Walsh, an organizer with Food and Water Watch, said the issue at stake isn’t property rights. “We are talking about our drinking water here, something people need to live,” he said. “Don’t forget that.”*
DRBC Executive Director Carol Collier says there is no timeline on when, and whether, the DRBC will impose the proposed new regulations.
*Observer-Reporter (Feb 25) – Emotions run high as panel weighs rules for natural gas drilling