A commission’s proposal to regulate hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River basin struck Don Miles as “inconsistent.”
The proposal calls for prohibiting natural gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, but would allow companies to use the region’s fresh water and dispose of waste water here. Miles said that scenario could lead to dwindling clean water resources.
“It’s like declaring your car is dangerous to the environment but the exhaust is OK,” Miles said.
Miles, of Bethlehem, was the first of about 20 people to advocate for a complete ban on fracking and related activities during a Delaware River Basin Commission public hearing Thursday at Lehigh Carbon Community College.
The commission, which regulates water use in the watershed stretching from the Catskills to the Delaware Bay, issued a set of draft rules late last year that called for the prohibition of frack drilling but not associated activities. If the rules are adopted, commission staff would review any requests to use any amount of fresh water for frack drilling and requests to dispose of any amount of fracked waste water, documents state.
A portion of the natural gas reserve called the Marcellus shale formation stretches into the 13,539 square miles of the basin, which includes land in eastern Pennsylvania, upstate New York, New Jersey and Delaware and the headwaters of the Delaware, Lehigh and Schuylkill rivers.
The Lehigh Valley is not in the shale region, though the upstream section of the Lehigh River is.
The Lehigh Valley hearing was among the last in a series of six the commission held throughout the basin to allow the public to weigh in on the proposed rules. Of the roughly 200 people who have commented so far, most favor more stringent rules, DRBC spokesman Clark Rupert said.