The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), which has played a key role in the de facto moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the basin, will soon begin a search for a new executive director, following Carol Collier’s announcement Thursday that she will retire March 12, 2014.

Collier was sworn in as the commission’s third executive director in 1998, becoming the first woman to head an interstate-federal compact agency, according to DRBC.

“Before I retire in six months, my hope is that the DRBC will be able to complete a number of actions,” Collier said during the commission’s regular business meeting held at the Mount Laurel Campus of Burlington County College. “These include adoption of the PCB [polychlorinated biphenyls] standard and implementation strategy for the Delaware Estuary, progress toward a one discharge permit program, reinstatement of fair share funding from the federal government and New York State, and defining a strategy for natural gas in the basin.”

Prior to taking the top staff position with DRBC, Collier served as executive director for Pennsylvania’s 21st Century Environment Commission, was regional director of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Southeast Region and worked 19 years with BCM Environmental Engineers. She is currently the national president of the American Water Resources Association.

The multi-state commission has regulatory jurisdiction over the 13,539-square mile Delaware River watershed in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Delaware. The commission is represented by the governors of the four states, as well as a representative of the Army Corps of Engineers.

DRBC Chairman Michele Sierkerka said in July that the organization is working to advance natural gas regulations in the basin, with “thousands of hours” logged so far by its staff and those of its member states on the process since November 2011 (see Shale Daily, July 16). Sierkerka, an appointee of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, spoke about natural gas regulation at the DRBC’s July 10 meeting, following complaints from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and the Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance LLC (NWPOA) that the organization was moving too slowly on the issue (see Shale Daily, July 8; July 5). The NWPOA has threatened to sue the DRBC if it doesn’t schedule a vote to consider revising its water quality regulations, or decides against stepping aside in regulating shale development in the basin.

At about the same time, Newfield Exploration Co. and its joint venture partner, Hess Corp., terminated about 1,500 leases in northeast Pennsylvania, with an NWPOA spokesman declaring that regulatory uncertainty in the Delaware River Basin, specifically from the DRBC, was a factor in the decision (see Shale Daily, July 17).