Conservationists say a resolution passed Wednesday by the Delaware River Basin Commission makes no sense.
The DRBC adopted a resolution calling for a ban of fracking for natural gas within the Delaware watershed, giving environmental groups a solid victory. But according to Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, the resolution also starts the process of formulating rules to allow clean water to be taken from the river basin for fracking elsewhere, and the return of fracking waste to the area.
“So it’s a loss of water for us, and it’s an encouragement and support of drilling and fracking in other communities,” van Rossum said; “which simply is not acceptable.”
The Commission said the resolution simply starts the process of developing rules for water extraction and waste disposal, and there will be ample opportunity for public comment.
But Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said allowing extraction and disposal would be giving the drilling companies the water they need, while potentially leaving those who depend on the Delaware with a superfund site.
“By bringing in fracking waste for processing, storage and discharge, there could be a spill or an accident,” Tittel said. “Or we could have a flood and stuff ends up in the river, killing fish and poisoning our water.”
In a statement to the DRBC meeting in Newtown, Tittel said, “this area is where Washington crossed the Delaware. Commissioners don’t double cross the Delaware.”
Draft rules for water extraction and waste disposal are to be released by November 30, followed by a six-month public comment period.
Van Rossum said the message they want the commission to hear is simple and clear.
“We expect every watershed governor and even the representative for the president to vote for a permanent, total ban on drilling and fracking operations in the watershed, and every aspect of what that means,” she said.
The Delaware River Basin serves as the source of drinking water for 17 million people.
-Andrea Sears, Keystone State News Connection