House Begins Debate On Bill To Compensate Delaware River Watershed Drilling Rights Owners Over $10 Billion If DRBC Adopts Fracking Ban
On May 14, the House began debating House Bill 827 (Fritz-R-Wayne) requiring compensation to landowners for their drilling rights if the Delaware River Basin Commission adopts a ban on on fracking.
But after nearly 2 hours of debate, no final vote was taken. The House reconvened and adjourned May 15 also without taking a final vote on the bill and will not return to voting session until June 3.
On Thursday at a summit meeting of governors in the Delaware Watershed, Gov. Wolf said he supports a full ban on fracking in the Delaware River Watershed, including transferring water into and out of the basin.
In Pennsylvania, the proposed DRBC ban would affect all or parts of Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Schuylkill and Wayne counties.
Rep. Jonathan Fritz (R-Wayne), prime sponsor of the bill, said the legislation would cost a minimum of $10 billion.
The Senate sponsor of similar legislation-- Senate Bill 305-- referenced a 2011 University of Delaware study which found the mean value of potentially recoverable natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation in the Delaware River Basin is projected to be $30.4 billion, but it could be as high as $52 billion (page 91).
Since 1988, Pennsylvania has been responsible for 25 percent of the Delaware River Basin Commission’s budget. No funding is provided in the bill for Pennsylvania’s share of this cost to state taxpayers.
Opposition by members of the Senate and House to a proposed oil and gas fracking ban in the Delaware River Watershed goes back to an action taken by the Delaware River Basin Commission in 2009 to impose a moratorium on new natural gas wells until DRBC could adopt requirements to regulate drilling.
In December 2017, DRBC formally proposed draft amendments to its regulations and a plan to prohibit high volume hydraulic fracturing in the watershed and held extensive hearings on the proposal.
In April 2018, DRBC posted all the comments it received on the proposal, but has not yet set a timetable for finalizing the proposal.
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[Posted: May 15, 2019]
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