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DRBC Revised Draft Rules Open for Public Comment

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) announced this month draft amendments to its plan and regulations to better provide for the planning, conservation, utilization, development, management and control of the basin’s water resources in connection with the hydraulic fracturing of shale and other hydrocarbon-bearing formations.

In December 2010, the DRBC drafted and published environmental protection regulations for the watershed that were open for public comment until April 15, 2011. After reviewing these comments, the DRBC then published a revised version on November 8, 2011; however, the special meeting to consider adoption of the revised regulations was postponed until now.

The revised draft rules prohibit high volume hydraulic fracturing in hydrocarbon-bearing rock formations within the Delaware River Basin. In addition, the rules reinforce the commission’s current policies that discourage the importation of wastewater and exportation of water, and include rules to address the inter-basin transfer of water and wastewater related to hydraulic fracturing.

The rules include provisions confirming that the treatment and disposal of produced water from hydraulic fracturing does not impair or conflict with the preservation of the waters of the basin for uses in accordance with the DRBC comprehensive plan.

A full text of the draft rules, related materials, and information on the public input procedures can be viewed on the commission’s website here.

The DRBC has not set a timeline for voting on final regulations. Until the commission approves the regulations, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) will not issue drilling permits.

The DRBC is holding the following public hearings in 2018:

  1. Jan. 23, 2018, 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Ladore Camp, Retreat and Conference Center’s Performing Arts and Recreation Center (PARC) Pavilion, 287 Owego Turnpike, Waymart, Pa. Register to attend at: http://bit.ly/2ApxOB1.
  2. Jan. 23, 2018, 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Ladore Camp, Retreat and Conference Center’s Performing Arts and Recreation Center (PARC) Pavilion, 287 Owego Turnpike, Waymart, Pa. Register to attend at: http://bit.ly/2AgHtsV.
  3. Jan. 25, 2018, 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Philadelphia Airport, 4509 Island Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. Register to attend at: http://bit.ly/2AIPh7P.
  4. Jan. 25, 2018, 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Philadelphia Airport, 4509 Island Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. Register to attend at: http://bit.ly/2ip6Pyn.

Advance registration, which is required to attend, will remain open until 5 p.m., Dec. 31, 2017. Those who have registered to attend will be afforded an opportunity to request speaking time.

The public also has an opportunity to submit written comments on the draft regulations. Written comments may be submitted until 5 p.m., Feb. 28, 2018. Written comments and attachments should be submitted through the commission’s online comments webpage at http://dockets.drbc.commentinput.com/. Written comments will not be accepted through other methods, such as email, fax or hand delivery, unless an express exception has been granted based on lack of access to the web-based system. Requests for exceptions may be addressed to: Commission Secretary, DRBC, P.O. Box 7360, West Trenton, NJ 08628.

The DRBC is a regional body with the goal to oversee management of the Delaware River system across state boundaries. It was created in 1961 as an interstate compact in response to a 1954 Supreme Court decision to settle water use disputes among Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York and New Jersey. The DRBC consists of governors from the four states and the Division Engineer of the North Atlantic Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The DRBC employs a staff of engineers, biologists, geologists, and other specialists.

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