Marcellus Shale Coalition Puts DRBC on Notice the Evidence Is Against It

DRBC fracking ban - Tom Shepstone ReportsTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.

 

The Marcellus Shale Coalition has twice told the DRBC its fracking ban is foolish but yesterday wrote a critical letter showing the evidence is against it.

Dave Spigelmyer is a stand-up guy and he’s on our side. His organization delivered a compelling sets of legal arguments against the DRBC’s proposed fracking ban in its written testimony. Dave then appeared at the House State Government Committee to support landowners and drive home the Marcellus Shale Coalition’s position. Now, he’s written to the DRBC to tell them the physical evidence is also stacked against their foolish political maneuver.

Two commissions with the same governing majority and no excuse for not knowing natural gas development and fracking is safe.

Here’s the text of the letter Dave just sent to the DRBC (emphasis added):

The Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) was formed in 2008 and is comprised of approximately 220 natural gas producing, midstream, transmission, and supply chain members who are fully committed to working with local, county, state, and federal government officials and regulators, to facilitate the development of the natural gas resources in the Marcellus, Utica, and related geological formations. Our members represent many of the largest and most active companies in the natural gas industry, as well as the suppliers and contractors who work with the industry.

On March 29, 2018, the MSC submitted comprehensive comments to the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) on the above-referenced proposed rulemaking. Since this submittal, two noteworthy academic studies have been released, each independently finding little-to-no impact on groundwater resulting from natural gas development. On May 22, 2018, researchers with the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute of Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania released a study entitled, “Big Groundwater Data Sets Reveal Possible Rare Contamination Amid Otherwise Improved Water Quality for Some Analytes in a Region of Marcellus Shale Development.” This study examined naturally-occurring levels of methane in the Marcellus Shale area, reviewed over 11,000 groundwater samples throughout the Marcellus Shale region, and documented improved groundwater quality in rural areas that have seen significant unconventional shale gas activity. A copy of this study is enclosed.

Additionally, on June 13, 2018 researchers with the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut released a study entitled, “Methane in groundwater before, during and after hydraulic fracturing of the Marcellus Shale.” This study sampled nearby water well supplies before, during and after unconventional natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing, and attributed any rising levels of methane to natural variability, not to shale-related activities. Researchers determined that natural variability is “potentially a lot greater than previously understood.” A copy of this study is enclosed.

The MSC and its member companies believe it is incumbent upon the DRBC to take note of these studies, their findings, and to consider this information in its deliberations and decision-making concerning the above-referenced proposed rulemaking.

Thank you for your attention in this matter. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

The original letter, together with enclosed studies and footnotes, may be found here. The significance of this letter is that it comes from the Marcellus Shale Coalition and can’t be ignored. If it came from me or most others readers, it would be dismissed as late testimony, but the MSC is too big and too important to ignore. The Commission members will learn of it and realize it confirms exactly what the SRBC studies have shown with respect to surface water quality, namely, this:

Marcellus Shale Coalition

What the SRBC water quality studies show and the DRBC has ignored, despite have the same governing majority of members.

What’s also interesting is that minority members of the House State Government Committee, when confronted with the SRBC reality, tried to dismiss it with a Delaware Riverkeeper talking point, arguing that a subsequent USGS study had somehow debunked this claim. What the USGS actually said, as all academic studies do, is that more study (and, not coincidentally, more money for academia) was needed, particularly of groundwater. Well, as Dave Spigelmyer says, now they have it.

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