There is a moratorium on natural gas drilling/fracking and water withdrawals in the Delaware River Watershed, enacted by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) in May 2010, by unanimous vote of the Commission's voting members - representatives of the Governors of Pennsylvania. New York, New Jersey and Delaware and President Obama's representative, the Army Corps of Engineers. When natural gas regulations were proposed by the DRBC with a close of public comment in April 2011, the public became engaged in a big way. Breaking all previous records for public input, 69,000 comments were submitted to the DRBC, most calling for the proposed rules to be scrapped because they were too weak and narrow and advocating for a comprehensive environmental impact analysis of what gas development would do to the Watershed and the 17 million people and almost 13,000 square miles of ecosystem that rely on the health and abundance of the Delaware River Watershed for water supply and habitat. In November 2011 the moratorium was almost lifted and the rules almost adopted but public pressure and the announcement of Gov. Markell of Delaware and the head of New York's Dept. of Environmental Conservation that they would not vote to approve the rules, caused the meeting to be cancelled and the rules to be sent back to the drawing board because there was not an assured majority to approve the lifting of the moratorium. As the DRBC continues to consider allowing drilling and fracking, the watershed health hangs precariously in the balance. Delaware Riverkeeper Network and many groups representing hundreds of thousands of members have called for a permanent ban on gas development in the Watershed since the dangerous practices involved are not compatible with maintaining and sustaining the water resources and ecosystems of the Delaware River Watershed.
The environmental impacts of natural gas drilling include water quantity (on average 5 millions gallons of water depleted/consumed per well), water quality (hydrofracking chemicals, radioactive and highly toxic wastewater, drilling muds and cuttings, waste solids and residuals that results from the well development process), stormwater runoff (nonpoint source pollution, erosion, stream degradation), habitat and ecosystem destruction and disruption, air quality (pollution from methane and other gases, VOCs and other volatile materials, silica, particulates, etc.) noise and light pollution, and community/cultural, scenic and quality of life impacts. Inadequate regulation of the industry at every level allows these impacts to occur, burdening communities and the environment. The practices required to extract natural gas are intrinsically polluting, allowing our aquifers and the environment to be permanently degraded, in violation of our environmental rights. The only way to avoid these negative impacts is to convert our energy systems away from these dirty fossil fuels and towards clean, sustainable, and renewable energy sources and energy efficiency policies.
Say it Ain't So, Joe! by Josh Fox/Bill McKibben from JFOX on Vimeo.
SAVE THE DELAWARE from JFOX on Vimeo.
Hydrogeologist Paul Rubin at Shale Gas Outrage Conference from Kirsi Jansa on Vimeo.