Pa. gas wells will need DRBC nod
By Dan Hust
WAYNE COUNTY, PA A new requirement by Pennsylvania to make natural gas drillers seek Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) approval may very well have impacts in New York.
The DRBC announced this week that pursuant to a request by Pennsylvania, which is a member of the DRBC it has told the Stone Energy Corporation that an application will have to be made to the DRBC and approval granted before the company can continue drilling and extraction operations in western Wayne County, Pa.
According to DRBC spokesperson Clarke Rupert, this is the first of its kind.
“This is all, quite frankly, a new area for the commission,” he said Wednesday. “We’re feeling our way through this.”
No application has been submitted yet, and Rupert isn’t even sure what parameters will have to be met to secure DRBC approval.
“I don’t know that all of those details have been spelled out yet,” he remarked.
But he was fairly sure they would include a listing and review of impacts on surface and groundwater, which concern the DRBC’s main reason for being: planning, developing and regulating major activities that affect the Delaware River watershed.
Created nearly 50 years ago, the DRBC plays a pivotal role because of the participation of its member states: Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Delaware. The federal government is the fifth member.
How this will affect gas drilling activities in New York remains uncertain.
“At this point, we are continuing to have discussions with New York State regarding what requirements they’ll be imposing,” Rupert remarked. “We want to ensure coordination but not duplication of efforts.”
Whatever the state decides, Rupert assured that the DRBC will not be taking sides on the controversial matter.
“Our intent is not to prevent natural gas drilling but to ensure that the proper environmental scrutiny occurs,” he explained.