The hundreds of people testifying Tuesday on the Delaware River Basin Commission's proposed regulations for Marcellus Shale development agreed that the regulations won't work, but the agreement ended there.
According to various news reports from the hearings in Pennsylvania and New York, drilling proponents argued that the regulations are redundant and would stifle investment, while drilling opponents argued that the regulations don't adequately address concerns about the risks of natural gas drilling in the 13,539-square-mile watershed.
The DRBC held four hearings on Tuesday -- two in Honesdale, PA and two in Liberty, NY -- to get comments on regulations proposed last December that would guide Marcellus Shale development (see Shale Daily, Dec. 10, 2010). The DRBC will hold two hearings in New Jersey on Thursday and take written comments through March 16.
The 83-page draft regulations cover water sources for natural gas development, wastewater management and well pad siting. The proposed rules would also streamline the process for certain development projects to get permits.
David Callahan with the Marcellus Shale Coalition described the plan as having "significant flaws."
"The requirement of a Natural Gas Development Plan is unworkable, mandating our industry to detail infrastructure plans years prior to any development," Callahan said. "Few industries can provide such plans that far in advance."
He also said the DRBC might be overreaching its legal authority with some of the proposed regulations.
Many concerned about drilling in the Delaware River watershed said the regulations didn't adequately address the cumulative impact of thousands of wells. "These rules will not prevent individual catastrophic pollution events, and they also will not prevent the cumulative environmental degradation that you are supposed to prevent," the Scranton Times Tribune quoted Tracy Carluccio, deputy director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, as saying.
The hearings brought out hundreds of people for and against drilling. Property owner groups said the regulations would effectively prevent drilling. Actor Mark Ruffalo and Gasland filmmaker Josh Fox testified against drilling.