Corbett Urges Delaware River Basin Commission To Finalize Drilling Rules
On Thursday, Gov. Tom Corbett wrote to the Delaware River Basin Commission expressing his "frustration and disappointment" over the failure of the Commission to finalize its regulations on Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling.
"For over three years, a moratorium issued by the DRBC has been in place which has prohibited the development of natural gas within all or parts of 13 Pennsylvania counties that lie within the basin. Adoption of this moratorium-- namely through the postponement of consideration of well pad dockets-- was purportedly done to all for the drafting of appropriate standards that would protect the water resources of the basin.
"However, deferring the submission of applications until regulations are adopted presumes that regulations will, ultimately, be adopted. That has failed to occur.
"This moratorium has done more than prohibit the citizens of Pennsylvania who reside within the basin from enjoying their property rights. It has depressed economic growth in the region, discouraged the investment of private capital in the Commonwealth, and reflected poorly on the DRBC's ability to function effectively.
"Moreover, since the DRBC’s scheduled November 2011 meeting to consider adoption of final rules was cancelled, Pennsylvania has significantly enhanced environmental protection standards through passage of Act 13 in February 2012. Act 13 represents the first comprehensive update of the state’s Oil and Gas Act since 1984, incorporating proposals from the Governor’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission and members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
"The citizens of Pennsylvania residing within the basin have been denied the enjoyment of their property rights due to the inaction of the DRBC. Operators interested in developing natural gas have closed offices and laid-off employees; lease payments have been withheld; force majeure clauses in contracts have been exercised, and communities have watched their neighbors outside the basin benefit tremendously. In addition to this inequity, the DRBC’s inaction may very well constitute a ‘taking’ under the U.S. Constitution, subjecting its members, including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to financial and other legal ramifications.
"Hopefully the residents of Wayne County won’t have to wait another three years for a decision from the DRBC and will soon be able to take part in the growing natural gas industry that has so significantly benefitted much of the rest of Pennsylvania."
A copy of the letter is available online.
NewsClips:Wayne County Urges Quick End To Drilling Ban