Says DRBC Should Heed City Position - Reject Stone Energy Permits
Philadelphia, PA -
Environmental groups from across the region hailed passage of a Philadelphia City Council Resolution yesterday calling on the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to reject all permits related to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, until a full environmental impact assessment is complete. The groups said the DRBC should follow the Council's direction and not allow this environmentally destructive drilling practice to occur in the Delaware River Basin.
"We are extremely happy that City Council took its first strong step towards protecting Philadelphia's watershed from shale gas drilling," said Iris Marie Bloom, Campaign Director of Protecting Our Waters, a grassroots Philadelphia organization that opposes shale gas drilling. "Thanks to this resolution, the Delaware River Basin Commission now knows that Philadelphia's elected officials don't want any arsenic, benzene, radium 226 or hundreds of other Marcellus Shale fracking contaminants anywhere near our drinking water!"
"The Delaware River Watershed provides drinking water to 15 million people who will all be affected if shale gas drilling moves ahead in the River's headwaters, 1.5 million of them here in Philadelphia," noted Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper. "Until comprehensive analysis of the cumulative impacts of this new industrial activity is complete and protective regulations are in place, we will continue to fight to prevent shale gas extraction in our watershed".
So far, no gas drilling has occurred in the Delaware River Basin but many companies are poised to drill if they can obtain permits. Two applications from Stone Energy, one to frack the first well in the Delaware River watershed and one to withdraw up to 700,000 gallons per day from the West Branch Lackawaxen River, for five years, are pending. How DRBC rules on the Stone Energy permits will be considered a bellwether for gas exploration in the region. The DRBC Public Comment Period on the Stone Energy permits ends on April 12, 2010 and a decision could come in May.
"There are some places that simply are too sensitive and too important to allow any drilling at all, and the Delaware River Basin is one of those places." said Deborah Goldberg,
Managing Attorney for Earthjustice, a national environmental organization with offices in New York.
Stone Energy's water withdrawal permit would allow them to withdraw up to one billion, 277 million gallons of fresh, clean water from the West Branch Lackawaxen River over the next five years. If permitted, all of that water would be mixed with a toxic cocktail of fracking chemicals including methanol, formaldehyde, 2-butoxyethanol, and other known carcinogens. Fracking technology is exempt from major provisions of five federal environmental laws. The EPA recently announced a two year environmental review of the technology. New York City commissioned a scientific study which concluded there should be no shale gas drilling within 7 miles of New York City's watershed.
"There is no doubt that tremendous pollution of our water and air would result if these permits are granted" concluded Bloom, adding, "The net impact on climate change appears to be negative. This tiny, healthy tributary to the Lackawaxen River, Pennsylvania's 2010 River of the Year, spawns tremendous biodiversity and keeps the water flowing down to the mainstream Delaware River clean and fresh."