Two of our organizers were in Trenton, New Jersey today, attending the third of three hearings on the issue of fracking in the Delaware River Basin. The hearings, hosted by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), were established to provide opportunities for the members of the public to comment on the effects of natural gas drilling in this portion of the Marcellus Shale region. Food & Water Watch Eastern Region Director Jim Walsh and organizer Karina Wilkinson gave two statements and joined many others who are urging the commission to ban natural gas drilling.
The Delaware River Basin provides water for drinking and food production to 15 million people in the northeast — that’s 5 percent of the nation’s population. But energy companies don’t see the basin as a sustainer of life; they see it as a source of enormous profits. Their plans to drill for natural gas in this region could carry extreme long-term consequences for people in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Fracking threatens the water supply and the surrounding environment by depleting local water sources, contaminating groundwater with chemicals, releasing methane into drinking water, and producing toxic wastewater that cannot be adequately treated.
Our message for the three hearings is simple. We want the DRBC to ban fracking completely.
1. Regulations are not the answer! They would fall short of protecting the people who rely on the resources of the Delaware River Basin. These resources are vital to a large population and we cannot rely on energy companies to regulate responsively, especially when they have to be forced into revealing what chemicals are used in the fracking process.
2. Too much industry pressure and not enough science. We don’t believe that the DRBC has conducted an adequate review of the specific dangers related to hydraulic fracturing, yet they are already trying to move forward with drafting regulations. Relying on industry recommendations alone is quite risky. We urge the commission not to move forward with implementing regulations without adequate scientific review and input from the public.
3. The process has been rushed. The DRBC is moving forward with drafting regulations before the full potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing have been adequately studied by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
4. The commission has not truly engaged the citizens to determine public opinion. The public comment period should include hearings in additional areas that may be affected, including New York City and Philadelphia. We urge the commission to gather more input from the public. While industry representatives have been bused in to the hearings to offer their testimony, the hearings have not included ample public commentary and they have not been held in population centers where more people can participate.
Think about the millions of people, homes, and agriculture that could be at risk for dangerous contamination if they decide to try to regulate natural gas drilling, as opposed to banning it.