The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) on Thursday proposed rules that would allow natural gas development projects -- with conditions -- in affected areas of the Marcellus Shale.

In a nutshell, the proposed rulemaking would allow water within the basin to be used for gas development if the water is "within the physical boundaries" of a DRBC-approved natural gas development plan, or NGDP. Developers also would be allowed to reuse flowback and production waters, treated wastewater and mine drainage waters for natural gas development "under specified conditions."

The proposed rulemaking also would streamline the process to obtain permits for gas development projects "that demonstrate that they satisfy certain criteria." Existing procedures now take six to nine months; the streamlined permit proposal could allow projects to get under way within 30 days.

The proposed rulemaking, which would add Article 7 Part III to basin regulations, would supersede DRBC's executive director determinations issued this year and in 2009 that temporarily banned gas development (see Daily GPI, June 16; May 12; June 1, 2009).

Three public hearings will be scheduled over the next three months to allow oral testimony on the proposed rulemaking. The dates had not been set on Thursday.

Divided into three sections, the 83-page proposed rulemaking addresses water sources for natural gas development, well pad siting and wastewater disposal in the watershed of the Delaware River basin, which affects portions of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York.The commission said it "primarily" relied on the oil and gas programs and the "experienced agency staff of the state in which the natural gas well is located to manage well construction and operation..." (to read the full report go to www.shaledaily.com).

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