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Memorandum to DRBC: Don’t Be Dolts!

John J. IntervalJohn J. Interval
Professional Petroleum Geologist.


John J. Interval wants the DRBC permanent fracking ban rejected for the sake of the economy and protection of property owner’s rights.

Protecting private property rights is a bedrock principle of a free society and a key to explaining American prosperity.

That principle is in danger of being subverted. The Delaware River Basin Commission, which consists of the governors of New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania, and the federal government, represented by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, proposes a permanent ban on fracking for natural gas in the Delaware River watershed without any compensation for landowners who own the rights to gas resources and who stand to lose millions of dollars in royalties. It also translates into less revenue for local governments and school systems.


There would be an extremely high price to pay for a ban on fracking, since it would affect the shape of the region’s economy for decades to come.

The commission is scheduled to hold public hearings on the proposed ban later this month. It should be rejected and a new policy should be adopted that recognizes the value of fracking.

However, if we don’t speak out forcefully, we will have no one to blame but ourselves. The views of landowners and other stakeholders in energy production are far more important than many people think, the untapped gas deposits are huge and the technology for producing shale gas keeps getting better. Since 2010, gas production in Pennsylvania has surged by 920 percent.

The challenge now is not an absence of political support for natural gas production or public disinterest. It is the existence of a vacuum. Vocal support for fracking matters. In a diverse region like this one, the absence of an articulated public interest in promoting stable energy production produces a fertile ground for those Luddite wishing to withdraw from the world or creates a vacuum to be filled by ardent environmentalists who want to keep energy resources in the ground.

Fracking safety and efficiency have improved significantly since the commission imposed a de-facto moratorium on the process in 2010.

Energy costs in the Northeast are the highest in the nation, but fracking costs will keep falling, because the cost of fracking, in which a combination of water, sand and chemicals are pumped into the shale at high pressure to extract the gas, depends on technology and technology costs always fall. A single drilling rig, for example, has already been used to crack shale horizontally in multiple places and advances in seismology are used to mine the most productive seams.

What’s more, wastewater from fracking is being recycled, preventing the degradation of groundwater and reducing the need to store or discharge the liquid in wells.

Pipelines that carry water from one well to another are replacing trucks.

In Pennsylvania, fracking has lowered energy costs, reduced pollution and carbon dioxide emissions and created thousands of jobs. But the state, and the region, will pay a high price for a permanent ban on fracking in the river’s watershed. It should not be allowed to happen.

John J. Interval is a professional petroleum geologist. He lives in Bridgeville, Pa.

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12 thoughts on “Memorandum to DRBC: Don’t Be Dolts!

  1. That is clearly one issue- the other issue is how do they explain the ability to handle these issues in other states with similar climates, in the adjacent Susquehanna River Basin, in states where water resources are actually scarce, and in regions where natural gas development is in fact in the lower portions of the freshwater aquifer. The Marcellus and Utica gas is well below the freshwater table and likely not even within the regional flow system – so arguments weak. Does not mean there are not issues, but it is clear that these issues can be managed and addressed to minimize risk. If the SRBC can handle – the DRBC can handle – the SRBC is not a bad model!

  2. It’s always economy first for gas proponents..
    And what about landowner rights who don’t want to live next door to or near an industrial site and with industrial traffic..and
    our PA. Constitutional Rights to clean air and clean water…

    • And somehow you get off calling utility scale renewable installations “farms” when they are just another industrial energy facility. Unfortunately we can put in the substitutes for coal, oil, and nukes now and all you can do is try to delay it somebody gets around to putting in hundreds of square miles of solar and thousands of wind turbines.

      Your message about a total renewable future is wearing thin and the math of hitting 50% renewables by 2030 is virtually impossible. Do tell us how many hundreds of square miles of solar cells and thousands of wind turbines it will take to replace either the Pilgrim (MA) and the Indian Point (NY) nuclear plants that produce about 2,500 MW each. Be sure to include where and when they will be built and who will foot the cost. Gas can do it in 2-3 years; with just renewables, it’s just cold and dark.

    • You promised to move to NY if they banned gas…
      Why the frack are you still in PA…
      Stranger Danger Stranger Danger

    • Vera, which articles of the Constitution discuss “rights” to clean air and water? I found something about “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation” and Governor Andy needs to answer a few questions about that. You seem to ignore landowner rights when it suits you.

        • Start pushing your legislators to investigate a withdrawal. There is a way to exit the compact, provided PA hours its obligations with regard to jointly funded reservoir projects and the like.

        • Urge President Trump to decommission the Delaware River Basin Commission immediately. Use every contact available to bring this injustice to the President’s attention. Both of the President’s sons visit our area, Trump Jr. just two days ago at the Courthouse in Scranton and Eric with friends in Wayne County. Educate the brothers who can pass on information to President on the injustice being applied to a small area of PA by an appointed group of political figureheads A.S.A.P.

  3. It is the height of hypocrisy to argue against gas drilling while ignoring the extensive studies conducted throughout our country. Gas is being drilled in 30 states, over 10,000 wells alone in PA. Have the horrible outcomes predicted by so called ‘environmentalists’ come true? No, isn’t is strange these same people cry Global Warming, now called Climate Change. No one denies that the climate changes. These ‘environmentalists’ cry look at the scientific data while completely ignoring the scientific data supporting the safety of drilling for gas. This complete reversal is the definition of hypocrisy.

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