Westmoreland Marcellus Citizens’ Group Updates July 7, 2013
* For articles and updates or to just vent, visit us on facebook;
* To view permanent documents, past updates, reports, general information and meeting information http://westmorelandmarcellus.blogspot.com/
* To discuss candidates: http://www.facebook.com/groups/VoteProEarth/
* To contact your state legislator:
For email address, click on the envelope under the photo
* For information on the state gas legislation and local control: http://pajustpowers.org/aboutthebills.html-
***WMCG Steering Committee Meetings--2nd Tuesday of every month at 7:30 pm –This Tuesday. Contact Jan for directions
****July 11 Lobbying Day –from PennEnvironment and Mt Watershed
“We need your help to get your Senator to support a moratorium on fracking.
In the last two months, it’s become clear the tide is turning on fracking in Pennsylvania. We delivered 100,000 signatures for a moratorium; a majority of Pennsylvanians now support a moratorium; and, newly proposed legislation would finally put our health and environment first.
Despite this momentum, not all our legislators in Harrisburg are listening. So we’re turning up the heat. https://secure3.convio.net/engage/site/Advocacy?pagename=homepage&page=UserAction&id=8583&autologin=true&JServSessionIdr004=ypuoc6m0e1.app332bWH
AT: “Independence from Fracking” Rally
WHERE: Sen. White's district office and Sen. Kim Ward
We’re joining with Food & Water Watch, Mountain Watershed Association and other allies to push Sen. White and Sen. Kim Ward along with a number of other senators, to stand up and protect all Pennsylvanians from the dangers of fracking.
All citizens of PA deserve to be protected from dirty drilling. We need to make sure they know that their constituents want them to sign on to the state moratorium bill.
Can you come? Click here to RSVP.”
David Masur, PennEnvironment Director
From Melissa, Mt Watershed--If you can’t join us on the 11th – please call your state senator and schedule a time to meet with them to discuss your concerns and ask 1) if they’ll co-sponsor Ferlo’s moratorium bill 2) what the senator will do to bring justice to those already harmed 3) what it would take (#of petitions, victims, %of public support) for them to push the PAUSE button (at least) given so much has happened already and we don’t have any assessments or overalls plans for development and impacts in PA
Tour could look like:
White @11am à quick lunch & 30 mins drive to à Ward @ 1pm optional 45 min. drive to Kasunic @ 2:15p or 25 min. drive to IDLEWILD @ 2pm if we do Kasunic @ 2:15p then 55 min. drive to IDLEWILD @ 4pm (park closes @9)
Please fill out this Doodle poll if you can attend the ‘non-partisan tour’ on July 11th so we can find a time to all speak on the phone to coordinate carpooling, props, actions, etc: http://doodle.com/m6u5gisrf38ddif6
People from Westmoreland, let Melissa know if you can attend. We need some new faces to meet with our representatives.
Senator Don White Murrysville (White 41)3950 William Penn Highway
Murrysville PA 15668
Time: 11 AM
Senator Kim Ward Greensburg (Ward 39)
1075 South Main Street
Greensburg, PA 15601
Time: 1 PM
****July 17 Meeting on Seismic Testing, Pipeline Agreements, and Shale Gas Development By Penn State in cooperation with the Municipality of Murrysville
Wednesday, July 17 - 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. - Murrysville Community Center 3091 Carson Avenue, Murrysville PA 15668
Registration is required due to limited seating. Please call 724-837-1402 to register.
We encourage you to attend to ask good questions. jan
***July 20 Fracking Forum in Shadyside
Saw Gasland II? Stay involved.
1-4 pm. Friends Meeting House
4836 Ellsworth Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
***To sign up for notifications of activity and violations for your area:
***List of the Harmed--There are now over 1200 names of residents of Pennsylvania who became sick after fracking began in their area and have placed their name on the list of the harmed. http://pennsylvaniaallianceforcleanwaterandair.wordpress.com/the-list/
1. EPA Backs Down On Pavillion and Other Incriminating Studies
ProPublica reporter Abrahm Lustgarten
ProPublica reporter Abrahm Lustgarten
‘When the EPA abruptly retreated on its multimillion-dollar investigation into water contamination in a central Wyoming natural gas field last month, it shocked environmentalists and energy industry supporters alike.
In 2011, the agency had issued a blockbuster draft report saying that the controversial practice of fracking was to blame for the pollution of an aquifer deep below the town of Pavillion, Wy. – the first time such a claim had been based on a scientific analysis.
The study drew heated criticism over its methodology and awaited a peer review that promised to settle the dispute. Now the EPA will instead hand the study over to the state of Wyoming, whose research will be funded by EnCana, the very drilling company whose wells may have caused the contamination.
Industry advocates say the EPA’s turnabout reflects an overdue recognition that it had over-reached on fracking and that its science was critically flawed.
But environmentalists see an agency that is systematically disengaging from any research that could be perceived as questioning the safety of fracking or oil drilling, even as President Obama lays out a plan to combat climate change that rests heavily on the use of natural gas.
Over the past 15 months, they point out, the EPA has:
· Closed an investigation into groundwater pollution in Dimock, Pa., saying the level of contamination was below federal safety triggers.
· Abandoned its claim that a driller in Parker County, Texas, was responsible for methane gas bubbling up in residents’ faucets, even though a geologist hired by the agency confirmed this finding.
· Sharply revised downward a 2010 estimate showing that leaking gas from wells and pipelines was contributing to climate change, crediting better pollution controls by the drilling industry even as other reports indicate the leaks may be larger than previously thought.
· Failed to enforce a statutory ban on using diesel fuel in fracking.
“We’re seeing a pattern that is of great concern,” said Amy Mall, a senior policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington. “They need to make sure that scientific investigations are thorough enough to ensure that the public is getting a full scientific explanation.”
Tanks hold natural gas condensate and mark the spot of producing gas wells in the Pavillion field, in Fremont County, Wyo., in the heart of the Wind River Indian Reservation. The EPA found chemicals that are used in gas drilling in water wells near this site. (Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)
The EPA says that the string of decisions is not related, and the Pavillion matter will be resolved more quickly by state officials. The agency has maintained publicly that it remains committed to an ongoing national study of hydraulic fracturing, which it says will draw the definitive line on fracking’s risks to water.
In private conversations, however, high-ranking agency officials acknowledge that fierce pressure from the drilling industry and its powerful allies on Capitol Hill – as well as financial constraints and a delicate policy balance sought by the White House — is squelching their ability to scrutinize not only the effects of oil and gas drilling, but other environmental protections as well.
Last year, the agency’s budget was sliced 17 percent, to below 1998 levels. Sequestration forced further cuts, making research initiatives like the one in Pavillion harder to fund.
One reflection of the intense political spotlight on the agency: In May, Senate Republicans boycotted a vote on President Obama’s nominee to head the EPA, Gina McCarthy, after asking her to answer more than 1,000 questions on regulatory and policy concerns, including energy.
The Pavillion study touched a particular nerve for Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., the former ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee.
According to correspondence obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Inhofe demanded repeated briefings from EPA officials on fracking initiatives and barraged the agency with questions on its expenditures in Pavillion, down to how many dollars it paid a lab to check water samples for a particular contaminant.
He also wrote a letter to the EPA’s top administrator calling a draft report that concluded fracking likely helped pollute Pavillion’s drinking water “unsubstantiated” and pillorying it as part of an “Administration-wide effort to hinder and unnecessarily regulate hydraulic fracturing on the federal level.” He called for the EPA’s inspector general to open an investigation into the agency’s actions related to fracking.
When the EPA announced it would end its research in Pavillion, Inhofe – who’s office did not respond to questions from ProPublica — was quick to applaud.
“EPA thought it had a rock solid case linking groundwater contamination to hydraulic fracturing in Pavillion, WY, but we knew all along that the science was not there,” Inhofe said in a press release issued the day of the announcement.
Others, however, wonder whether a gun-shy EPA is capable of answering the pressing question of whether the nation’s natural gas boom will also bring a wave of environmental harm.
“The EPA has just put a ‘kick me’ sign on it,” John Hanger, a Democratic candidate for governor in Pennsylvania and the former secretary of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection, wrote on his blog in response to the EPA news about Pavillion. “Its critics from all quarters will now oblige.”
Before fracking became the subject of a high-stakes national debate, federal agencies appeared to be moving aggressively to study whether the drilling technique was connected to mounting complaints of water pollution and health problems near well sites nationwide.
As some states began to strengthen regulations for fracking, the federal government prepared to issue rules for how wells would be fracked on lands it directly controlled.
The EPA also launched prominent scientific studies in Texas, Wyoming and Pennsylvania, stepping into each case after residents voiced concerns that state environmental agencies had not properly examined problems.
The EPA probe in Pavillion began in 2008 with the aim of determining whether the town’s water was safe to drink. The area was first drilled in 1960 and had been the site of extensive natural gas developmentsince the 1990’s. Starting at about the same time, residents had complained of physical ailments and said their drinking water was black and tasted of chemicals.
The EPA conducted four rounds of sampling, first testing the water from more than 40 homes and later drilling two deep wells to test water from layers of earth that chemicals from farming and old oil and gas waste pits were unlikely to reach.
The sampling revealed oil, methane, arsenic, and metals including copper and vanadium – as well as other compounds –in shallow water wells. It also detected a trace of an obscure compound linked to materials used in fracking, called 2-butoxyethanol phosphate (2-BEp).
The deep-well tests showed benzene, at 50 times the level that is considered safe for people, as well as phenols — another dangerous human carcinogen — acetone, toluene, naphthalene and traces of diesel fuel, which seemed to show that man-made pollutants had found their way deep into the cracks of the earth. In all, EPA detected 13 different compounds in the deep aquifer that it said were often used with hydraulic fracturing processes, including 2- Butoxyethanol, a close relation to the 2-BEp found near the surface.
The agency issued a draft report in 2011 stating that while some of the pollution in the shallow water wells was likely the result of seepage from old waste pits nearby, the array of chemicals found in the deep test wells was “the result of direct mixing of hydraulic fracturing fluids with ground water in the Pavillion gas field.”
The report triggered a hailstorm of criticism not only from the drilling industry, but from state oil and gas regulators, who disagreed with the EPA’s interpretation of its data. They raised serious questions about the EPA’s methodology and the materials they used, postulating that contaminants found in deep-well samples could have been put there by the agency itself in the testing process.
In response, the EPA agreed to more testing and repeatedly extended the comment period on its study, delaying the peer review process.
Agency officials insist their data was correct, but the EPA’s decision to withdraw from Pavillion means the peer-review process won’t go forward and the findings in the draft report will never become final.
“We stand by what our data said,” an EPA spokesperson told ProPublica after the June 20 announcement, “but I do think there is a difference between data and conclusions.”
Wyoming officials say they will launch another year-long investigation to reach their own conclusions about Pavillion’s water.
Meanwhile, local residents remain suspended in a strange limbo.
While controversy has swirled around the deep well test results — and critics have hailed the agency’s retreat as an admission that it could not defend its science — the shallow well contamination and waste pits have been all but forgotten.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, the federal government’s main agency for evaluating health risk from pollution, has advised Pavillion residents not to bathe, cook with, or drink the water flowing from their taps. Some have reported worsening health conditions they suspect are related to the pollution. They are being provided temporary drinking water from the state in large cisterns.
The EPA opened its inquiry in Dimock, Pa., after residents provided it with private water tests detecting contaminants and complained that state regulators weren’t doing enough to investigate the cause.
When an elderly woman’s water well exploded on New Year’s morning in 2009, Pennsylvania officials discovered pervasive methane contamination in the well water of 18 homes and linked it to bad casing and cementing in gas company wells. In 2010, they took a series of steps against the drilling company involved, citing it for regulatory violations, barring it from new drilling until it proved its wells would not leak and requiring it to temporarily supply water to affected homes.
But residents said state officials hadn’t investigated whether the drilling was responsible for the chemicals in their water. The EPA stepped in to find out if residents could trust the water to be safe after the drilling company stopped bringing replacement supplies.
Starting in early 2012, federal officials tested water in more than five dozen homes for pollutants, finding hazardous levels of barium, arsenic and magnesium, all compounds that can occur naturally, and minute amounts of other contaminants, including several known to cause cancer.
Still, the concentration of pollutants was not high enough to exceed safe drinking water standards in most of the homes, the EPA found (in five homes, filtering systems were installed to address concerns). Moreover, none of the contaminants – except methane — pointed clearly to drilling. The EPA ended its investigation that July.
Critics pointed to the Dimock investigation as a classic example of the EPA being overly aggressive on fracking and then being proven wrong.
Yet, as in Pavillion, the agency concluded its inquiry without following through on the essential question of whether Dimock residents face an ongoing risk from too much methane, which is not considered unsafe to drink, but can produce fumes that lead to explosions.
The EPA also never addressed whether drilling – and perhaps the pressure of fracking – had contributed to moving methane up through cracks in the earth into their water wells.
As drilling has resumed in Dimock, so have reports of ongoing methane leaks. On June 24, the National Academy of Sciences published a report by Duke University researchers that underscored a link between the methane contamination in water in Dimock and across the Marcellus shale, and the gas wells being drilled deep below.
The gas industry maintains that methane is naturally occurring and, according to a response issued by the industry group Energy In Depth after the release of the Duke research, “there’s still no evidence of hydraulic fracturing fluids migrating from depth to contaminate aquifers.”
In opening an inquiry in Parker County, Texas, in late 2010, the EPA examined a question similar to the one it faced in Dimock: Was a driller responsible for methane gas bubbling up in residents’ water wells?
This time, though, tests conducted by a geologist hired by the agency appeared to confirm that the methane in the wells had resulted from drilling, rather than occurring naturally.
“The methane that was coming out of that well … was about as close a match as you are going to find,” said the consultant, Geoffrey Thyne, a geochemist and expert in unconventional oil and gas who has been a member of both the EPA’s Science Advisory Board for hydraulic fracturing, and a National Research Council committee to examine coalbed methane development.
The EPA issued an “imminent and substantial endangerment order” forcing Range Resources, the company it suspected of being responsible, to take immediate action to address the contamination.
But once again, the EPA’s actions ignited an explosive response from the oil and gas industry, and a sharp rebuke from Texas state officials, who insisted that their own data and analysis proved Range had done no harm.
According to the environmental news site Energy Wire, Ed Rendell, the former Governor of Pennsylvania, whose law firm lobbies on behalf of energy companies, also took up Range’s case with then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
Internal EPA emails used in the EnergyWire report and also obtained by ProPublica discuss Rendell’s meeting with then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, though Range has denied it employed Rendell to argue on its behalf. Neither the EPA nor Rendell responded to a request for comment on the Parker County case.
In March 2012, the EPA dropped its case against Range without explanation. Its administrator in Texas at the time had been assailed for making comments that seemed to show an anti-industry bias. He subsequently lost his job. An Associated Press investigation found that the EPA abandoned its inquiry after Range threatened not to cooperate with the EPA on its other drilling-related research.
Agency critics see a lack of will, rather than a lack of evidence, in the EPA’s approach in Parker County and elsewhere.
“It would be one thing if these were isolated incidents,” said Alan Septoff, communications director for Earthworks, an environmental group opposed to fracking. “But every time the EPA has come up with something damning, somehow, something magically has occurred to have them walk it back.”
So where does this leave the EPA’s remaining research into the effects of fracking?
The agency has joined with the Department of Energy, U.S. Geological Survey and the Department of Interior to study the environmental risks of developing unconventional fuels such as shale gas, but those involved in the collaboration say that little has happened.
That leaves the EPA’s highly anticipated national study on hydraulic fracturing.
When the EPA announced it was ending its research in Pavillion, it pointed to this study as a “major research program.”
“The agency will look to the results of this program as the basis for its scientific conclusions and recommendations on hydraulic fracturing,” it said in a statement issued in partnership with Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead.
That national study will concentrate on five case studies in Pennsylvania, Texas, North Dakota and Colorado.
It will not, however, focus on Pavillion or Parker County or Dimock.
Nor will it devote much attention to places like Sublette County, Wy., where state and federal agencies have found both aquifer contamination and that drilling has caused dangerous levels of emissions and ozone pollution.
It will be a long time before the EPA’s national study can inform the debate over fracking. While the agency has promised a draft by late 2014, it warned last month that no one should expect to read the final version before sometime in 2016, the last full year of President Obama’s term.”
- See more at: http://wyofile.com/propublica/epas-abandoned-wyoming-fracking-study-one-retreat-of-many/#sthash.1oPSyYmy.dpuf
2. Duke University: "Methane in Pennsylvania Groundwater May Be Due To Casing Problem"
"Scientists at Duke University detected elevated levels of methane, ethane and propane in groundwater samples near active fracking sites. The scientists conclude that the gasses come from the wells, not natural sources, but that the problem could be solved with better-designed casings. "We think there's a well-integrity problem in this part of the Marcellus,” says Robert Jackson, a professor at Duke and lead author on the paper describing the findings. "And well problems are relatively easily fixed. They’re especially easier to fix than if there's some fundamental problem with fracking."
….if the wells aren’t properly sealed, then gas can leak into the groundwater. The wells are lined with metal casings that prevent extracted gas and contaminated water from leaching into the surrounding rock. To block gas from flowing up the outside of the well shaft, engineers pour cement around the outer casing to plug any gaps. If the cement or casing isn’t properly set, then gas from deep shale deposits can find its way in to shallow groundwater. If the casing ruptures, fracking chemicals can also enter the water supply."
3. Pa. House Bill Would Let Drillers Pool Land
“The state House passed a bill that would make it easier for drilling companies to pool land into drilling units, angering some advocates who believe it undercuts landowners' rights.
The bill could have its biggest effect in Western Pennsylvania, where many people hold oil and gas leases signed decades before the shale drilling boom, experts said. They can often try to block drilling or negotiate better terms because their contracts don't expressly allow the land to be combined into the bigger units common in horizontal drilling.
The bill instead would give drilling companies the right to pool that land unless the old contracts expressly forbid it, which they usually don't, experts said.
“This is like stabbing us in the back,” said Jackie Root, president of the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Association of Royalty Owners. “There should be an opportunity for those mineral owners to negotiate ... and this is going to completely take that opportunity away.”
The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee — without opposition — passed the provision on Tuesday as an amendment to a bill largely about the rights of royalty recipients. Its sponsor, Rep. Garth Everett, R-Lycoming County, could not be reached for comment. It does have support, including a 167-33 House floor vote on Friday and from Gov. Tom Corbett's administration.
The bill will now go back to the Senate, where it started. “
4. New Yorkers Fight Gas Storage
“It’s something few people think about, but all that natural gas and other fossil fuels being produced by hydrofracking has to be stored somewhere before it gets to the consumer. Often used for the job: underground salt caverns like the ones near Watkins Glen in the Finger Lakes. Now an out of state company wants to expand storage there, a plan some local residents call risky.
The state geologist in New York supports the plan. But Professor John Halfman of the Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart and William Smith College worries that using the caverns for storage could threaten the drinking supply of almost 100 thousand people. He says the lake is unusually salty, possibly because of salt mining.
“I think if they re-utilize the caverns that are down there it’s going to put pressure on the formation that’s down there and put more salt into the lake. And if we get more salt into the lake, it’s potentially possible to have salt concentrations above what we could use for drinking water.”
No one from Inergy was available to be interviewed for this story, despite repeated requests
Both the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the New York DEC are studying public comments before issuing their decisions.”.““http://www.wamc.org/post/gas-storage-adds-fracking-controversy-upstate
5. The True Cost of Fracking
“PennEnvironment's recent report documents the millions of dollars that is the true cost of fracking including everything from air pollution to ruined roads and contaminated property. Just providing 14 families in Dimock, PA with a permanent new source of clan drinking water would have cost an estimated $11.8.”
6. Joe Osborne of GASP on Ozone (from Bob) .
Ozone is almost exclusively a summer pollutant because sunlight is necessary for ozone to form.
Temperature inversions, which tend to trap locally-generated pollutants in valleys, can occur year-round but are somewhat more frequent in the summer as well. That said, inversions are more likely to result in higher concentrations of particulate matter than ozone because:
1. Particulate matter pollution is present year-round, significant
ground-level ozone concentrations are not. So even though winter
inversions are less common than summer ones, when they do occur, they may well result in unhealthy particulate matter concentrations, but are exceedingly unlikely to result in unhealthy ozone concentrations.
2. Inversions tend to occur late at night or early in the morning—times when the sun is not shining and ozone concentrations are low.
So in the summer we're likely to see elevated ozone and PM concentrations. In the winter, elevated ozone concentrations are almost unheard of (outside of some rather freakish examples like the winter time ozone exceedances associated with oil and gas development in Wyoming), and elevated PM concentrations occur somewhat less frequently than in the summer, but do still occur (sometimes aided by a winter inversion).
You can access charts that faciliate this discussion at:
7. Rep. Jesse White on Productive Costs and Royalties
“Testifying at a Senate Environmental Resources and Energy committee hearing on June 27, 2013, Bradford County Commissioners Chairman Doug McLinko said, “Our constituents have shown us evidence of extraordinary post-production cost in Bradford County, with deductions of 40 and 50% all the way up to as much as 90%.” “…we have seen checks come with zero payment. We have seen retroactive charges being billed to land owners for tens of thousands of dollars where the property owners actually have a bill sent to them and they go without any royalty payments until it is paid in full.” Similar concerns were raised by the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau at the same hearing.
It is entirely reasonable to require producers to pay their own post-production costs. To do otherwise is roughly the equivalent of asking a farmer who sells wheat to allow Wonder Bread to directly deduct the price of baking the bread, slicing it, putting it into bags and delivering it to the supermarket. It’s an unreasonable and unacceptable practice that needs to end.”
8. Gasland Security Questioned
“A Fayette County family in litigation over Marcellus Shale and a resident who said a uniformed guard wrote down her license plate number after she stopped her vehicle on a public road near a pipeline project described that and other heavy-handed treatment by a security firm seeking a private detective’s license.
Washington County Judge John DiSalle heard several hours of testimony about Templar Protection LLC of 1610 Park Ave., Washington, which is seeking the detective license, and another entity with the same address and owners, Templar Inc.
Templar Protection provides contracted security guards, many of whom are retired state troopers, at gas well sites and pipelines while Templar Inc. employs minimum-wage flaggers for traffic control and other duties such as ditch-digging and tree-clearing.
Chief County Detective James McElhaney, who is also a retired state trooper, testified that when he did criminal background checks on the 49 employees of Templar Inc. earlier this year, he found that 32 had a history of arrests ranging from rape, burglary, theft, drugs and assault. Donald Saxton, the attorney representing Templar Protection LLC, objected to McElhaney’s testimony as irrelevant because Templar Protection, a separate entity from Templar Inc., is the firm seeking the private detective’s license.
“Obviously, they’re affiliated,” DiSalle ruled, and allowed the chief detective to continue.
“Templar Inc. does not perform any function that comes within the scope of the (private detective’s) act,” he continued, noting that there is no prohibition keeping employees of the firms from working under the same roof.
The state’s law on private detectives requires them to have, along with a clean record, a valid driver’s license. McElhaney also read an advertisement for flaggers that required them to have valid driver’s licenses, but of the 49, 10 were found lacking.
While McElhaney didn’t go as far as his predecessor, Michael Aaron, in recommending Templar Protection not be granted the private detective’s license, McElhaney asked the judge to consider several points, including commingling of resources and that the same individual is general manager of both companies.
In evaluating the firm’s request for the investigator’s license, the judge also heard from David R. Headley of Spring Hill Township, whose mailing address is Smithfield, Fayette County. He asked that the judge deny the request for a detective’s license because of ill treatment he, his family and visitors have received as Williams Gas/Laurel Mountain Midstream installed a Marcellus Shale pipeline in his front yard.
Headley, who is litigating the pipeline project in Fayette County court, was told he was on a “watch list.” He showed the judge examples of a security guard photographing him; of an armed Templar Protection employee standing on the Headley’s front yard which was beyond a gas line easement; and nearby vehicles marked Templar Protection LLC.
“They were supposed to be watching the equipment and all there doing was watching us,” testified Headley, who is a former resident of Mt. Morris. “My 4-year-old boy had an injunction against him and my wife had an injunction against her.”
9. Corbett Wants Delaware Basin Commission to Lift Drill Ban
“Gov.Corbett urged the Delaware River Basin Commission to lift a three-year moratorium on gas drilling, saying it has depressed economic growth in northeastern Pennsylvania and deprived landowners of their property rights.
DRBC representatives did not immediately return messages for comment Friday.
The agency monitors the drinking-water supply of more than 15 million people, including Philadelphia and half the population of New York City, and has banned Marcellus Shale drilling in the four-state basin until it approves rules governing the process.
The DRBC, which has representatives from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and the federal government, published an initial set of draft drilling regulations in 2010, and made revisions after taking public comment. Commissioners were supposed to consider adoption of the rules in 2011 but abruptly canceled the vote. It has not been rescheduled.
The DRBC has not simply sat on its hands, but is moving cautiously, said Tracy Carluccio, deputy director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, a group that opposes drilling in the basin.
"The moratorium makes perfect sense because the DRBC has not decided as an entity that gas drilling can proceed in the Delaware River watershed," she said. "Gov. Corbett made the decision to move full steam ahead with gas drilling (elsewhere in Pennsylvania) before he knew what it really entailed, and as a result of that communities are paying a terrible price."
10. Legislation Offers Zoning Protection
To All House Members
Representative Karen Boback-Republican from NW PA
Subject: Act 13 - Local Zoning Provisions
“As we are all aware, the local zoning provisions in Act 13 have become a source of controversy. In an effort to resolve this matter, I will introduce legislation that rewrites Title 58, Chapter 33 Local Ordinances Relating to Oil and Gas Operations.
More specifically, my legislation provides guidance for local ordinances, but makes several important changes from our current law. While the oil and gas industry will be considered as any other industry with regard to industrial zoning, my legislation changes the requirement that local municipalities “shall” allow oil and gas operations to may authorize oil and gas operations, including compressor stations, dehydration facilities, impoundment areas, and processing plants as a conditional use in agricultural zoning districts, and will restrict it in residential zones. (Note: In current law municipalities are required to allow this industry in agricultural and residential zones.) My intent is to restore the integrity of a residential zone in terms of oil and gas operations.
I believe that it is important to establish a sense of uniformity in local zoning in relation to this industry; however, it is also important that our communities have the ability to make critical land use decisions regarding activities within their borders.”