Sunday, February 5th, 2023
Sunday, February 5th, 2023

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No frack water for Delaware River as panel votes to ban discharges

The Delaware River Basin Commission voted 4-0 in a meeting held remotely via Zoom Webinar to approve a final rule prohibiting the discharge of wastewater from high-volume hydraulic fracturing to water or land in the Delaware River Basin. (Photo by Evan Kwityn)

Harrisburg — Last year, the Delaware River Basin Commission voted to prohibit fracking in the basin, and this year the commission took action to prevent fracking wastewater from being discharged in the four-state region.

On Dec. 7, the commission voted 4-0 in a meeting held remotely via Zoom Webinar to approve a final rule prohibiting the discharge of wastewater from high-volume hydraulic fracturing to water or land in the Delaware River Basin. (Federal representative Col. John P. Lloyd, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, abstained in the vote.)

The rule also clarified the circumstances in which water, including wastewater, may be exported from or imported into the basin.

In addition to a federal representative, the commission consists of the
governors from each of the four states within the basin (Pennsylvania,
Delaware, New Jersey and New York).

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is the current chairman of the commission, and incoming
governor Josh Shapiro will replace him in January and fill out the
remainder of the term, through June 30, 2023.

According to the commission, the Dec. 7 vote is reflected in commission
Resolution No. 2022-04, which prohibits the discharge of wastewater from
high-volume hydraulic fracturing to land or water throughout the basin.

The action is intended to control future pollution, protect public health and preserve the waters of the basin.

Several factors were cited in support of the resolution, including the Delaware
River Basin’s limited water quantity, susceptibility to drought and
limited capacity to assimilate wastewater.

“The commissioners have taken a bold step to protect the Delaware River
basin’s exceptional water resources,” said Steve Tambini, commission
executive director.

“Adoption of these rules by the commission is a joint action of four states and
the federal government, confirming the significant and vital role our
shared water resources play in the lives of more than 13 million
people.”

The commission held five public hearings on the draft rules and received
thousands of comments and petitions from a diverse cross-section of the
basin’s communities and beyond.

Commission staff and member agencies reviewed and evaluated all comments, along
with additional scientific and technical literature and reports.

The Dec. 7 vote marks the commission’s second major rule-making on fracking.
At a Feb. 25, 2021, meeting, the panel approved a final rule
prohibiting the practice of high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the
basin, known as Resolution No. 2021-01.

At the same meeting, the commission directed the executive director to prepare the rules that were adopted on Dec. 7.

When the ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing was passed in 2021, Wolf noted that he agreed with the effort.

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