Pennsylvania’s top environmental regulator is not just taking the EPA to task, he’s also got some choice words for Delaware officials. Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer blames the state of Delaware for holding up gas drilling in the northeastern part of Pennsylvania, where the Delaware River Basin Commission has imposed a moratorium.
Delaware, along with Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and the federal government all hold a seat on the Delaware River Basin Commission. The commission says gas drilling cannot begin within the river basin until the commissioners agree on new regulations. But the decision on those proposed rules has stalled, partly due to Delaware’s concerns about the environmental impacts of drilling. Pennsylvania has pushed the DRBC to open up Wayne and Pike counties to gas drilling. Secretary Krancer calls the delay “100 percent unadulterated political.” He says Delaware has no reason to worry about water quality.
“If you look at the map, you’ll see that Delaware draws zero water, for drinking water, from the Delaware River,” Krancer told StateImpact.
Krancer is referring to Delaware’s intakes along the Christiana River. Although the Christiana, as a tributary, is part of the Delaware River watershed, and feeds into the main branch of the river, no fracking, or gas drilling, occurs upriver from Delaware’s intake points.
“So when you peel back the onion,” says Krancer. ”You see that it’s 100-percent political, in terms of Delaware.”
But Krancer’s equivalent in the First State, the head of Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, says both New Jersey and New York are just as cautious as Delaware, when it comes to drilling. DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara says it’s Pennsylvania that’s acting out against the wishes of the other members on the Commission.
“All other states disagree with Pennsylvania,” says O’Mara. “They all agree that we should have a science based, rigorous regulatory regime because the consequences of failing to do it well could be devastating for years to come.”
O’Mara calls Pennsylvania’s gas drilling regulations “cavalier.” New Jersey does not lie above any significant shale deposits, so no drilling is planned in that state. New York has its own moratorium in place while it works on establishing its own regulations. O’Mara says in the meantime, New York wants the DRBC to delay voting on any gas drilling proposals.
“Protecting public health and insuring clean water is not a political issue,” says O’Mara.
O’Mara says the consensus among commissioners is that a more rigorous regulatory framework should be in place, than the one that currently exists in Pennsylvania.