Delaware state Representative John Kowalko, a liberal Democrat from New Castle County, says he has gathered more than 1,100 signatures on a petition that opposes drilling for natural gas in the Delaware River watershed. No shale gas exists in the state of Delaware. But the nation’s second smallest state recently became a major player in the shale gas debate after Governor Jack Markell announced his plan to vote “no” on the Delaware River Basin Commission’s new gas drilling rules.
Up until just a week ago, the battle over gas drilling along the Delaware River focused primarily on warring residents and politicians from Pennsylvania and New York. Delaware, however, would be downstream of any gas drilling that takes place in northeast Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York state. The Delaware river provides drinking water to two-thirds of the state’s residents.
In a press release, Kowalko says his primary motive is preserving safe drinking water.
“There have been very serious concerns raised about the economic viability of shale-gas drilling and the public health and environmental impacts that would result with slick-water hydraulic fracturing in shale areas bordering the Delaware River Basin,” said Kowalko.
Kowalko says he has forwarded the petition to the Governors of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, as well as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. All four states and the federal government have an equal vote on the Commission.