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DRBC delays special meeting on proposed gas development rules

The Delaware River Basin Commission postponed a special meeting scheduled for Nov. 21 which was to consider revised draft natural gas development regulations. It took the action so the five commission members could spend more time reviewing the proposals, the commission said on Nov. 18. The meeting has not been rescheduled, it added.

DRBC said the proposed regulations aim to protect water resources within the basin’s 13,539-square-mile area during construction and operation of gas development projects. Following publication of their original draft in December 2010, the commission held 18 hr of public hearings in three locations in February to receive testimony.

DRBC also received 69,000 submissions about the original draft during a comment period which closed on Apr. 15, and published a revised draft on Nov. 8 based on those submissions and commissioners’ discussions with their staffs, advisors, and each other, it said.

The revised draft regulations apply to all gas development projects within the four-state basin, regardless of the target formation, whether the well is for exploration or for production, and high-volume or low-volume hydraulic fracturing is contemplated, DRBC said.

It said proposed provisions include sections dealing with water sources and conditions of bulk water use and management approvals for gas projects; the transfer, treatment, and discharge of generated wastewater; and protection of high-value water resource landscapes and DRBC-designated special protection waters through mandatory gas development plans for lease holdings of 3,200 acres or more and for all project sponsors intending to develop more than five well pads.

DRBC said that it would rely on the oil and gas program of each state in which a gas well is located to regulate its construction and operation to avoid regulatory duplication. If a state or federal requirement is more stringent than DRBC’s, the stricter requirement would apply, it indicated. The gas development regulations would take effect 60 days after the commission approved them.

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