Weekly Press: Philadelphia City Council calls for ban on natural gas drilling pending Environmental Impact Statement

Weekly Press: Philadelphia City Council calls for ban on natural gas drilling pending Environmental Impact Statement

Philadelphia City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced a resolution on March 25th calling on the Delaware River Basin Commission to deny all permits for hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River watershed until an Environmental Impact Statement is completed and assessed.

The resolution passed unanimously. It specifically directs the DRBC to reject two Stone Energy applications, one to frack a well and one for a water withdrawal, for five years, from a small tributary to the Delaware River.

Councilwoman Brown commented, “I got dozens and dozens of letters about this from all over Philadelphia. This is a big issue. I have a strong commitment to sustainability, and it’s common sense that we should require an environmental impact statement before any fracking takes place.”

She added, “Long-term impacts can take years or decades to develop, and we have too many examples of that. Long-term impacts can be devastating.”

Criticism of shale gas drilling, particularly in densely populated areas, in shrinking forest land, and in sensitive watersheds, appears to be escalating rapidly. John Quigley, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary, decried what he called an “unregulated gold rush” atmosphere, speaking at Temple University March 18th.

Environmental groups across the region hailed the City Council resolution’s passage. Deborah Goldberg, Managing Attorney for Earthjustice, based in New York City, asserted, “There are some places that simply are too sensitive and too important to allow any drilling at all, and the Delaware River Basin is one of those places.”

Brady Russell, Eastern Pennsylvania Director for Clean Water Action, agreed: “It’s good that Philadelphia is catching up with New York City, which understands the importance of protecting its water supply.”

New York City hired a team of scientists and engineers to conduct an extensive assessment of the risks of shale gas drilling, using hydraulic fracturing technology, in its watershed. The study recommended that no drilling take place within seven miles of the New York City watershed.

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