Thursday, March 3, 2011

DRBC Plans are Ob-scenic

This is my first post for a long while, though I certainly have never abandoned the cause against gas drilling. Governmental hedging is really making me angrier than ever, and posting my Comment to the DRBC is a form of yelling "foul":


Thank god for the few level heads in government capable of seeing the forests through the alluring vapors of natural gas.  I mean Maurice Hinchey, Edward Markey, and Bob Casey.   Not, alas, the commissioners of the DRBC, who, having served their famous charge so well in the past, are now prepared to condemn it to despoliation and have no defensible ground for doing so.

 The Commission still has not responded to Congressman Hinchey’s angry questions in a letter of last September to General deLuca, challenging the dubious mandate (to “support the economic needs of the (Marcellus Shale) region and the nation’s need to secure energy”) that led to the decision to open up the Delaware Basin to gas drilling.  Indeed, there is no answer.  There is nothing in the Commission’s Comprehensive Plan or the Compact or other agency document which allows economics or energy needs to trump the Commission’s proper mission of protecting this valuable waterway.

 There can be little doubt that the “thousands of drilling sites” that the Commission expects in the pristine, unpopulated Upper Delaware portion of the Basin [Draft Regulations, 7.4(b)(2)] will have significant impacts, and the Commission concedes that [Draft Regs 7.4(b)(1)].  It has taken years for the public to penetrate the treacherous industryspeak that has promised us clean energy, safely delivered, with economic enticements thrown in. Government has had a hand in keeping us in the dark.  But now we know the twin reality: the nation is swimming in a surplus of already-extracted natural gas for which storage is unavailable, and the downsides of the process of hydrofrack drilling are getting uglier by the day*. The delivery of energy from thousands of wells in the Basin is unneeded and cannot at this time be made safe for the River and the millions who depend on it.

As I believe the issuance of these regulations is unauthorized, I won’t detail what I perceive to be their shortcomings, except to state that their reliance on weak member- state staffing and standards, e.g., wellbore cementing, which have been shown to be deficient, is an invitation to trouble, and that a puny 500-foot setback from the River is outrageous and ob-scenic.

You have the power and the obligation to do the right thing by one of the last pristine, free-flowing rivers in our part of the world: to ban gas drilling from the Basin. I am asking you to act on them.

 Grace van Hulsteyn, Esq.

*Yesterday, it was explosions and fires from vaporous chemicals routinely stored on wellpads near Pittsburgh.