Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) asked the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to finalize natural gas development standards so that Pennsylvanians may increase economic activity, create jobs, and cultivate a new energy source.
The DRBC, a federal-interstate compact created in 1961 to regulate water usage along the Delaware River in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware, has failed to establish regulations to allow for water to be used for natural gas development. This procrastination has become a de factor moratorium on natural gas production and related economic activities in northeastern Pennsylvania at a time when unemployment in the area is still well above the national average. This moratorium is particularly confusing, as a similar federal-interstate compact with the Susquehanna River Basin Commission issued regulations allowing for natural gas production in 2008.
In a letter to DRBC Commissioners and the executive director of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), Sen. Toomey highlighted the inaction of the DRBC regarding natural gas development and the need to promote economic development in Pennsylvania.
The text of Sen. Toomey's letter is below:
I am writing to you regarding the Delaware River Basin Commission's (DRBC) delay in finalizing standards for natural gas development. As you know, the DRBC holds jurisdiction over 13 Pennsylvania counties, several of which contain known deposits of natural gas. Since the DRBC cancelled its scheduled November 2011 meeting, which would have finalized rules for natural gas development, a de facto moratorium on natural gas production has been imposed on these counties. This delay in finding an agreeable way to safely capitalize on this valuable resource is unacceptable and is tremendously unfair to my constituents who are already struggling to revitalize their local economies. I urge you to move forward and finalize natural gas development standards, lift the moratorium, and allow my constituents to increase economic development in this region.
For far too long, families across the nation have struggled to pay their bills and earn a living. In many parts of our country, including Northeastern Pennsylvania, unemployment remains unacceptably high. In fact, it is still above 10 percent in certain counties in my state. As we have seen elsewhere in Pennsylvania, natural gas development has the potential to deliver true economic stimulus by providing land-owners with much needed capital, creating jobs and offering an inexpensive source of energy to power households and businesses.
I understand that concerns have been raised about the potential impact natural gas development could have on our environment and I believe we can all agree that natural gas reserves must be extracted in a safe and responsible manner. That said, the Pennsylvania state government has proved itself a trustworthy environmental steward. It has enacted significant legislation and a robust regulatory framework to monitor industry activity and ensure the continued protection of human health and the environment. I am confident that the goals of increasing economic growth and protecting our environment are not mutually exclusive.
Again, for the sake of my constituents and every struggling family who could benefit from a stronger economy, lower energy costs, and increased job opportunities, I ask that you promptly convene a meeting of DRBC commissioners to finalize natural gas development standards in the Delaware River Basin.