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The DRBC's Newly Proposed Natural Gas Regulations Explained

Mary Cummings Jordan / WHYY

View of the Delaware River from Bucks County, Pa.

Pennsylvania’s natural gas drilling boom is expected to get rolling in Northeast Pennsylvania after the Delaware River Basin Commission votes on its proposed drilling regulations. Drilling in the Delaware River Basin has been under a moratorium until the Commissioners approve new rules. After receiving thousands of public comments, and holding several public hearings, the DRBC has updated its December 2010 proposal. We have a link to the annotated fact sheet below.
At the meeting on November 21, Commissioners will vote on the proposed regulations, but will not take any further public comment. This has environmentalists planning some potential direct actions.

“We will legally exercise our First Amendment rights come November 21,” said the head of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Maya von Rossum.

DRBC officials say they’re following established protocol when it comes to the issue over public comment periods. But environmentalists like von Rossum have a lot to say about the new proposals. A coalition of nine groups released a ten-point critique of the document.
First on the list of grievances is the setback requirements. The DRBC increased the distance a gas well can be from public water sources from 500 feet in the December proposal, to 1000 feet in the most recent draft. But environmentalists are unhappy with the reduction in setback requirements when it comes to streams and wetlands. The December proposal had that distance at 500 feet, the current proposal is 300 feet. Read more about the DRBC proposal and the environmentalists’ response below.

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