Delaware River Basin Commission decision temporarily halts all drilling
Decision ends exploratory drilling exemption provided for in last month's drilling decision.
Monday, June 14, 2010 - 17:21
HALT!: All drilling of the Marcellus shale in the Upper Delaware River, using equipment similar to that seen here, has been stopped courtesy of a Delaware River Basin Commission decision. (Photo: arimoore/Flickr)
In my last post I reported on the controversy surrounding the Upper Delaware River, a major source of drinking water and the site of anticipated natural gas drilling. The river system was recently named the nation's most endangered river, in large part due to drilling efforts. Drilling for natural gas through a controversial technique known as "fracking" has the potential to cause severe environmental damage and to poison a drinking water source for nearly 20 million people.
From June 14: "The Delaware River Basin Commission announced today that it has placed exploratory drilling under its jurisdiction, meaning that energy companies must obtain regulatory approval before sinking any new exploratory wells." This, in effect, temporarily halts all anticipated drilling of the Marcellus Shale, the location of vast natural gas reserves.
The DRBC is an interstate regulator that provides drilling permits. Last month the commission declared a halt to all drilling projects. However, until today, companies needed permits to drill for the purpose of extraction. They did not, until today, need permits to drill for exploratory purposes which were exempt under last month's decision.
DRBC Executive Director Carol Collier noted what this decision will help and what kind of behavior it will prevent. NJ.com reports, "Monday's decision will help project ground and surface water. [Collier] says it will also remove any incentive for gas companies to classify their wells as exploratory and sink them without DRBC review."