Exploratory drilling put on hold in Northeastern Pa.

    The anticipated natural gas drilling boom has been put on hold in Northeastern Pennsylvania and parts of New York state.

    The Delaware River Basin Commission announced Monday that it has placed exploratory drilling under its jurisdiction, meaning that energy companies must obtain regulatory approval before sinking any new test wells.

    The Delaware River Basin Commission oversees the ecological health of the almost 200-mile stretch of river from Trenton north to just on the other side of the New York border. The basin serves as the source of drinking water for 15 million people in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Commission executive director Carol Collier says natural gas drilling requires a lot of water, which could tap the water supply.

    “The other issue that is of concern is the wastewater or frack water that comes back out of the well that has the additives that the drillers put into it. But also it comes back up having been in contact with those shales with a very high salt content and also radioactivity.”

    Last year the Commission halted all drilling except exploratory wells. But Collier says they did not realize the negative impact of exploratory wells.

    A spokesman for the industry in Pennsylvania says the decision surprised him and would essentially halt drilling in Northeastern Pennsylvania, at least in the short-term.

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