Energy. Environment. Economy.

DRBC Responds to Pro-Drilling Critics

A farm in Wayne County sits on top of the Marcellus Shale formation. Drilling has not begun in the area of the state that drains into the Delaware River.

Susan Phillips / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The Coccadrilli Brother's dairy farm in New Canaan, Wayne County sits on top of the Marcellus Shale formation. Drilling has not begun in the area of the state that is part of the Delaware River Basin. Frustrated leaseholders threatened to sue the DRBC.

The Delaware River Basin Commission isn’t getting much love these days. In just the past couple of weeks, the Commission’s executive director Carol Collier has gotten critical letters from Sen. Pat Toomey, Gov. Tom Corbett, the Wayne County Commissioners, and a group of leaseholders called the Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance. Each of the letters express frustration with the Commission’s lack of movement on implementing new gas drilling regulations, and urged lifting their de facto moratorium.

The Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance went a step further and issued an ultimatum to the DRBC. The Alliance told Collier that if the DRBC does not move forward by scheduling a vote on the proposed regulations, or choose to step aside by Wednesday, the group will file a lawsuit. The DRBC did neither. But the new Chair of the Commission Michele Siekerka, who represents New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, did make a statement about the letters and listed what the Commission staff has been doing since a scheduled vote on the new regulations was cancelled back in November, 2011.

- reviewing new scientific studies on the effects of natural gas development on water resources;

- benchmarking  new regulations, best management practices and performance standards adopted by other states, federal agencies and organizations;

- using what has been learned to identify a level of minimum standards – a regulatory floor  for natural gas development in the Delaware Basin that will protect its shared water resources;

- performing water quality and quantity monitoring to establish baseline conditions prior to the onset of natural gas development in the basin; and

- with the help of a grant from the William Penn Foundation, developing a tool for evaluating the impacts of land-based development on water resources, to facilitate informed planning and assess effects.

A spokesman for the Delaware River Basin Commission says that although the letter writing campaign was aimed at the executive director, the Commissioners, who are appointed by the governors of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and the federal government, made the decision to hold off on any permitted gas drilling activity until new regulations are adopted, and chose to cancel the scheduled vote.


  • Balicon

    I too am a Northern Wayne Property Owner, but more importantly I am a citizen. Those who leased have signed us all onto a test of a potentially very dangerous drug, Fracking. Thanks to the couragous DRBC we were lucky enough to get the placibo. To help visualize this huge experiment please look at Northern Wayne County via Google Earth or satellite view and notice the abundance of forrest land and small lakes and streams here in the Lake District. Now pan West to Montrose and yes, Dimock and notice the hundreds of well pads and new roads littering the countryside. Let’s just sit back and see how well this experiment works out for the unfortunate citizens of Susquehanna.

  • Celia Janosik

    Man is too stupid for his inventions. Mother Nature is fed up with us. My grandchildren and children everywhere do not deserve to be “fracked”.

  • crystalpoint

    Governor, Tom Corbett

    Dear Tom:

    I am writing to you
    today, to ask you to give some consideration into dropping the “SRBC” i.e. Susquehanna River Basin Association and putting DER
    Department Environmental Resources in their place, overseeing all the
    Commonwealth’s waterways. At a recent meeting SRBC held here in Williamsport, during the
    question and answer period of the meeting. I asked their spokesman if he knew
    that, in their own bylaws, it is stated that, the Commonwealth can take over
    their responsibilities entirely, of policing the entire Susquehanna River Basin
    and its tributaries? Which would put the Commonwealths (DEP) in charge, of enforcing
    the federal “Clean Water Act” as well as State regulations regulating our own

    The answer to my
    question from the SRBC spokesman was, yes he knew this! The following copy represents
    a section from their original by-laws! –See Section 3.10 of the Susquehanna River
    Basin Compact, P.L.9l-575; 84 Stat. 1509 et seq.
    Please review the following text
    on the first page of this document which gives Pa. the authority to do so.



    Who has the primary
    responsibility for managing?

    The water resources
    of the Susquehanna basin?”

    “The primary responsibility for managing
    the waters of

    The Susquehanna falls on the three, member

    i.e. New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland. SRBC

    To fill in the regulatory gaps that exists
    in each state’s

    Management program SRBC assumes the

    Responsibility, “until
    the State would have the regulatory

    Authority to
    implement a water management program

    Consistent with the

    In essence the SRBC originally appointed
    them-selves to regulate the Susquehanna River basin until such time that the
    Commonwealth, or other States in the compact, decided to implement their own
    Water Management Plan. At which time they would assume and take over the SRBC’s

    At this point in the meeting, I stated, it
    was my opinion that the citizens of Pa. simply,
    cannot afford to pay to implement all the regulations that SRBC casually, (some
    that are not in the federal regs.) that SRBC was placing on the Commonwealth of
    Pa. Furthermore, I stated there is not enough State money, in our treasury to
    pay for all the construction being ordered upon all the Sanitary Authorities, e.g.
    in all the communities up and down the Susquehanna watershed, in building those
    (in my view ineffective) unnecessary gigantic holding tanks, in efforts to hold
    the excess storm water run-off and sediments during heavy rains.

    SRBC, did make it clear in this meeting
    that, the Commonwealth of Pa. does have the right, to take over, in absence of
    them, in regulating their own waterways!

    My last suggestion to SRBC was, i.e.
    “Pennsylvania, should sell the water coming from the Susquehanna water shed,
    flowing into the Bay, (see the attached copy of Today’s related
    story from the Pittsburg Tribune-Review dated Sunday March 11th
    2012). If the State would sell the waterto the Delaware Bay, we could afford toimplement all their regulations. e.g. In this case Pa., would not need to worry
    about how we going pay for all those improvementsand up-dates required by SRBC to be made to our sewage treatment plants. Someof which are not practical, or cost effective, some in my opinion, nothing butpipe dreams! Why not sell our water to the Bay folks? Arizona sells massiveamounts of their water from the Colorado river, to the State of California? SRBC’s response was,to this suggestion, “this would create one hell of a mess for us!” In my opinion that would be a fair trade!

    Finally, in my comments to SRBC by saying “one of the most beautiful examples of nature’serosion that you will ever see, is the Arizona’s Grand Canyon, which was created entirely by the Colorado River’s continual massive erosion. Which goes on until this day?Therefore erosion, in some cases is not always so bad!” When our mighty rivers rise from floods and rain, it is not possible to stop, or control most erosion all together! After all the heavy rains so far this, year all the improvements
    made by local municipalities that SRBC hasordered Pa., to do, in efforts to reduce sediments flowing into the Bay. Accordingto SRBC officials, there has not been any measurable reduction in sediment flow,downstream of the Susquehanna, this year, even though the Commonwealth and its people spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to control water run-off with regulations forced upon us by SRBC! How do you measure sediments amounts in muddy water?

    Tom, please don’t
    discard this idea without giving it some serious thought? Removing the SRBC’s of
    their present responsibilities of controlling Pa’s., waterways over to the
    (DEP) Department Environmental Protection, would place some additional work on
    them. Some of your people have the expertise already to fulfill those
    requirements. They can make decisions on their own, on what it is, that makes
    common sense, and whether it is cost effective as well as proven technology.
    Your actions, if you agree on the above idea, would take this unnecessary,
    regulatory agency, SRBC out of the mix. There are simply too many, so called
    regulatory redundant experts, running around on their drilling pads getting in
    the way. Let us together, lighten this load?

    Finally, one of two important matters, first avoiding pollution from oil and gas drilling rigs and transportation! The OIL & Gas Industry is more concerned about damage to theenvironment caused by them, then the average American, or any environmentalist!They are the ones that get the bad press. Most accidents in the Oil & Gas field are due to human error, their main objective is, to avoid and reduce
    those accidents through better training, and by hiring people who have prior
    expertise in the field they are working in. There will always be accidents, and
    they are mindful, that there is a tree hugger, hiding behind every tree,
    watching for a spill of frack water, or a drop of oil on the ground. The real truth is it is the radical environmentalist and the Obama administration, whom the press is most interested in. They are the blame that has kept America from becoming energy independent, along with the entire Obama administration! Contrary to what Obama says, it will not take 5 or 10 years, of drilling which would allow the U.S.,
    to become, energy independent!
    Secondly, and equally important, the Commonwealth, of Pennsylvania should never allow for our Government, to ever allow them to make the Susquehanna river to become, or be named a National Scenic River!!! If Uncle Sam would do this, Pennsylvania, would be dead in the water, as far as N.G., Gas or Crude Oil Development here in Pa., as far as this subject is concerned, under no circumstances, should the Commonwealth ever consider this idea!

    I look forward to
    hearing from you,


    Ray P. Smith

    My phone number is

    My Email address is,

    See the Attachment:

    A Story from the Pittsburg Tribune-Review, headline entitled


    Headline: Commission
    suggests charging for river water

    By Bob Frye


    Sunday, March 11,

    You can lead a horse to water, but can you
    make him pay for it?

    That’s something the executive director of
    the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission figuratively is asking.

    While delivering the commission’s annual
    report to the House of Representatives Game and Fisheries Committee at the
    state Capital in Harrisburg, John Arway suggested that lawmakers should start
    charging industry for the water it takes from the state’s rivers and streams.
    Right now, that’s not happening.

    The Susquehanna River Basin Commission
    charges industry about 27 cents per 1,000 gallons of water from that river,
    or just enough to replace what’s removed; the Delaware River Basin Commission
    charges about 8 cents per 1,000 gallons, Arway said. No one regulates who
    takes water out of the Ohio River drainage,
    nor does anyone pay to replace it.

    The commission itself makes a little money
    by selling water. It’s getting $5 per 1,000 gallons taken from Donegal Lake
    in Westmoreland
    County. The water is
    being purchased by a Marcellus Shale deep-well driller. But beyond that, the
    state is letting industry take its water for free. That’s the way things have
    been for a long time, Arway added.”Shallow-well gas drillers in the
    Allegheny National Forest have been pulling all of the water for their
    operations from our rivers for decades without paying a penny for it. Farmers

    the same,”
    Arway said. “Anyone with a tanker truck can pull up to our water and
    take what they want without the commonwealth getting a thing for it.”

    That’s not the way things work elsewhere, he
    said. In the West — where water is a scarce commodity – industry routinely
    pays for water, he said. If Pennsylvania started doing the same, it could
    reap tens of millions of dollars in benefits, if not more .Lawmakers on the
    committee expressed some interested in the idea, though it’s clear a lot of
    specifics would have to be worked out.

    Rep. John Evans, the Crawford County
    Republican who serves as majority chairman of the committee, asked how money
    generated from selling water should be allocated. His first impression seemed
    to be that Arway was asking for the commission to get all of the money.”Shouldn’t
    the commonwealth receive the funds because the water belongs to it?”
    Evans asked.

    That is indeed the case, Arway said. He said
    he would expect that lawmakers would decide how to allocate that money, with
    some going to townships for repair of bridges over streams and rivers, some
    going to water treatment facilities — and some going to the Fish and Boat
    Commission, because anglers and boaters use the waterways from which the
    water is being taken.

    Exactly who should get money and in what
    proportion is something the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee could
    determine, he suggested. It’s unlimited, how this could be constructed,”
    Arway said. Whether there’s any interest in the idea may become clear soon.
    Arway said he will be “going on the road” to talk about the idea
    with constituents — from sportsmen to lawmakers — in the near future.

    “It’s a message we want to get out and
    see how it resonates,” Arway said.

    Bob Frye can be reached at or 724-838-5148.

    and text copyright © 2012 by Trib Total Media, Inc.

    Reproduction or reuse prohibited without written consent.

    Read more: Commission
    suggests charging for river water – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

    • paulroden

      I think you should rename or “re-brand” the DEP to Don’t Expect Protection, since they won’t even enforce the existing “burdensome regulations” because they don’t have the resources or are even allowed to enforce them under Governor Corporate’s edicts for the gas drillers and polluters.

  • paulroden

    Governor Corporate has taken an even stronger step besides letters, phone calls, press releases, press conferences and e-mails to the DRBC, he has cut off all PA funding to the DRBC. Since the DRBC won’t do the gas drillers bidding and since they own the government, Governor Corporate has chosen to “starve the beast” to cut off their funding to regulate the Delaware River Basin and do their job.

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