Natural Gas NOW
The Delaware Riverkeeper/Povertykeeper and other Delaware River fractivists are apparently very afraid the DRBC moratorium will be lifted and rightly so.
Our friends over at Energy In Depth have nailed it with their observations about the effects of a DRBC lawsuit. Delaware River fractivists of all stripes have every reason to be afraid, Seth Whitehead says, and he’s exactly correct. They’re showing their fear with one of those bogus petition efforts in which they engage from time to time whenever they want to rattle their swords.
Seth’s post needs to read in full, but are some key excerpts:
The de facto fracking moratorium within the Delaware River Basin (DRB) has been in place for so long now that it sometimes seems like a permanent ban is actually in place. So why then, seven years into the moratorium, was there so much urgency from northeast anti-fracking groups last week to push for a permanent ban? It could have something to do with the fact that the already shaky justifications for the moratorium — and the entity responsible for it, the Delaware River Basin Commission — are facing increased scrutiny.
In case you missed it, activists hand-delivered petitions allegedly including 63,000 signatures to the governors of the four Delaware River Basin states —Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware and New Jersey — demanding a permanent fracking ban.
Though these pre-staged media events garnered the attention activists desired, the underlying story here is that these groups are obviously worried the moratorium will be lifted before they can get a permanent ban in place. Here are three reasons those concerns are justified.
Reason #1: Delaware River Basin Commission Should Not Have Authority Over Fracking in the First Place
Pennsylvania, of course, has emerged in recent years as one of the more prolific energy producing states in the U.S. thanks to development of the Marcellus Shale made possible by hydraulic fracturing. The Commonwealth has earned the distinction of being the second highestnatural gas producing state in America the past four years. However, fracking is not allowed in a Pennsylvania county with considerable shale gas potential, Wayne County, because it is located in the Delaware River Basin.
How could that possibly be, you ask? It’s all because the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) — a four-state federal compact created in 1961 to oversee water quality in the Delaware River watershed — has exceeded its authority in recent years by regulating projects that aren’t even tangentially related to what the entity was originally created to oversee. In this case, DRBC is regulating a land use project that merely uses water — water that would be legally permitted and provided by sources that have nothing to do with the Delaware River.
Incredibly, the DRBC has been sitting on draft rules to regulate hydraulic fracturing since they were issued in November 2011. The inexplicable delay likely has something to due with the considerable influence the regional anti-fracking community has on the commission. But at the end of the day, the fact remains that no matter how much money or pressure is bestowed upon the DRBC by the anti-fracking community, it was simply never intended to regulate land use…
Reason #2: Wayne County Property Owners Are Fighting Back
Frustrated with the fact that the DRBC, which was intended to be a limited-scope compact between four states, is now overriding state laws and essentially denying Wayne County landowners the right to develop minerals on their own private property [and they’re] fighting back. The[y] filed a lawsuit against the DRBC last year, and that suit is currently in the Third Circuit Federal Court of Appeals, where it is expected to be decided relatively shortly. [The suit was filed by Wayne Land and Minerals Group, which is independent of NWPOA, the large landowners group from the area.]
After DRBC’s attempt to have that suit dismissed was rejected in Federal Court earlier this year, activist groups are justifiably concerned, as a decision in favor of Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance could come before they are able to convince DRBC to enact a permanent fracking ban.
Reason #3: No Evidence of Alleged Harms to Justify a Permanent Ban
The Delaware Riverkeeper’s Maya van Rossum told publicnewsservice.org last week,
“Fracking has devastated drinking-water supplies, it’s contaminating the air, it’s harming people’s health, it’s diminishing their property values. It’s harming every aspect of people’s lives.”
But van Rossum’s claims, which represent her organization’s apparent justification for a permanent fracking ban, simply aren’t supported by the facts.
As EID has documented countless times, no fewer than 17 studies by government, academic and regulatory authorities have determined fracking is not a major threat to drinking water. Most notable of these studies is the EPA’s landmark five-year report, which found no evidence of widespread water contamination of drinking water from fracking. A new report from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) entitled “2016 Final Pennsylvania Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report” also finds there is no water contamination threat posed by fracking to streams, lakes and groundwater in Pennsylvania. In fact, there are no fracking-related activities listed as “high priority sources” on a table in the report titled “Major Sources of Groundwater Contamination.”
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Energy Information Agency (EIA) data also show that emissions of the most dangerous criteria pollutants— sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, fine particulate matter and mercury — have all declined drastically since natural gas use skyrocketed due to the shale revolution.
Read all of Seth’s post for additional details but I noticed something else as well. I decided, so as to learn more, that I would sign the petition with a fake name and later withdraw it at the Catskill Mountainkeeper site (they’re were one of the places to sign). This is what I got back.
You’ll notice they said they had 1,701 signatures on July 28, which means each cooperating group was doing petitions separately so fractivists could sign multiple times and places. Typical.
We also have no idea where these particular Delaware River fractivists live. We can be sure, though, only the tiniest percentage comes from area impacted; that is Wayne County and its immediate neighbors. There are, undoubtedly not only duplicates but also fake names and fractivists from the world over. There’s a reason the names aren’t made publicly available—it’s a totally bogus and meaningless effort done for the purpose of making news and nothing more.
The DRBC should, and I predict will, largely ignore it as they ponder the situation in which they find themselves; in danger of losing all authority over natural gas development except for water withdrawals and disposals (as well as pipelines and other land use projects) because they’ve played a duplicitous delay game for seven years at the expense of Upper Delaware River landowners and residents. It is a corrupt agency that will, sooner or later, be forced to confront this reality. That is the point of the lawsuit. Delaware River fractivists should be afraid, very afraid.