A Preview: DRBC Hearings

More supplies of clean-burning, American natural gas. A cleaner, stronger energy future. The potential for tens of thousands of good-paying jobs and an economic revival across rural America. Those are key themes that will play out later this week as the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) holds public comment hearings in Honesdale, Pa., Liberty, N.Y., and Trenton, N.J., focused on the regulatory framework outlined by the commission for environmentally proven Marcellus Shale development in the region.

To be sure, the DRBC has taken considerable time in crafting guidelines for natural gas development in the eastern portion of the Marcellus Shale – development that promises sizable economic, environmental and national security benefits. According to a recent Scranton Times-Tribune report, “New production data shows shale’s promise and growth.” This from the story:

Three counties in Northeast and Northcentral Pennsylvania accounted for more than a third of the natural gas produced from the Marcellus Shale in the state during the second half of 2010, according to new production data posted online by the Department of Environmental Protection this week.

Although the current reporting period from July through December 2010 is only half as long as the previous 12-month reporting period released by the state, Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale wells produced twice as much gas: 256 billion cubic feet, or enough to heat more than 2.5 million homes for a year.

Bradford, Tioga and Susquehanna counties produced more than 100 billion cubic feet of that gas, and all of the 10 best-performing Marcellus wells during the six-month period were in Susquehanna County.

The new data reinforce both the growth and promise of Marcellus Shale production in Pennsylvania.

This production data is great news for every Pennsylvanian and every American consumer. More affordable, reliable supplies of energy responsibly produced here at home are helping to put our nation on a path toward a cleaner, more secure future – and helping to revitalize rural America at the same time.

And a host of local organizations – such as the Damascus, Pa.-based Northern Wayne Property Owner’s Alliance (NWPOA) – are working hard to ensure that DRBC moves forward with commonsense regulations aimed to balancing environmental protections with responsible, job-creating Marcellus development. The Wayne Independent reports this about the group’s efforts to protect the environment while working to create jobs and advance American energy security:

“The Delaware River Basin Commission is creating a set of regulations, an additional set of rules to live by for Wayne County, over and above regulations that our municipalities, our county and our state already have. So they are trying to grab authority over land-use matters in Wayne County and it directly affects our ability to enjoy economic opportunities here within the county,” said Marion Schweighofer, executive director of the Northern Wayne Property Owner’s Alliance.

Though they’re pleased the DRBC released the draft regulations back in December, giving them something to work with, Schweighofer says section 7.5 is “backwards. Instead of the DRBC having the ultimate, all powering authority and the states being underneath them, it needs to be the other way around.”

Our goal is to protect the environment, the water resources, and the surfaces of our properties, but at the same time have win-win regulations that will allow responsible gas production to move forward. Without final [regulations] from DRBC, we cannot move forward with gas exploration or production,” Schweighofer said.

As this week’s DRBC hearings transpire, the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) – in line with our Guiding Principles – encourages a “spirited public dialogue and fact-based education about responsible shale gas development.” Pennsylvania consumers and rural communities seeking to responsibly leverage clean-burning natural gas into economic growth, a cleaner environmental future, and stable energy supplies deserve nothing less.