DRBC sets hearings on gas-drilling regulations

    Proponents and critics of natural gas drilling will face off during a set of public hearings this week in upstate Pennsylvania.

    The Delaware River Basin Commission imposed a moratorium on any new drilling in the area last year until it agrees upon its own regulations.

    But all sides have serious issues with the proposals.

    Brady Russell, with the environmental group Clean Water Action, said the rules are too lenient. One of the biggest problems, said Russell, is that the rules do not address the cumulative effect of multiple drill sites.

    “So if over time, if they start to see thousands of wells in the watershed are having an impact on the water, even if technically all the well sites are abiding by the regulations, they’re not gonna have a way to come back and ask drillers to make up for that,” he said.

    Russell said the DRBC should extend the public comment period beyond 90 days.

    Supporters of drilling in the river basin contend the proposed regulations are too strict. The Northern Wayne County Property Owners Association said the required setbacks would make drilling impossible in the area.

    But environmental groups say the proposed rules don’t go far enough to protect water quality. The Delaware Riverkeeper’s Maya van Rossum maintained the commission rushed the process without doing adequate research. Van Rossum said the current proposals should be scrapped.

    The commission will also hold hearings on the issue in Trenton Thursday.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.