Posted by: Patricia Salkin | December 19, 2010

Delaware River Basin Commission Proposes Rules to Protect River from Impacts of Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling

Following a May 2009 ban on natural gas drilling absent Commission approval, last month the Delaware River Basin Commission proposed new regulations that would require gas drilling companies to have an approved plan for siting and accessing their natural gas development projects.  The proposed regulations would apply to all natural gas development projects that involve placement, construction, or use of exploratory or production wells in the Delaware Basin and to water withdrawals, well pad-related activities, and wastewater disposal associated with such projects.  The commission intends to defer to Pennsylvania and New York to regulate construction and operation of wells within their borders, although waters also run through New Jersey and Delaware.

The proposed regulations address, among other things:

*only water sources approved by the commission for use for natural gas development may be used for that purpose

*minimum setbacks for well pads from water bodies, wetlands, surface water supply intakes, and water supply reservoirs (setbacks from homes and public buildings, roads, and water supply wells will be those established in the regulations of the state in which a well pad is located)

*financial assurance of $125,000 per natural gas well  to cover costs associated with plugging, abandonment, and restoration of wells and remediation of pollution from natural gas development activities

*wastewater treatment facilities would have to obtain commission approval to accept wastewater from a natural gas development project

*Showing that discharge of the treated wastewater would not cause Safe Drinking Water Act standards to be exceeded or violate zone-specific water quality objectives and effluent limits for streams

Three public hearings will be scheduled during the 90-day comment period on the proposal, and written comments will be accepted until March 16, 2011.

The proposed regulations may be accessed at:

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