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Breaking: Bob Martin Agrees to Comply with Clean Water Act!

Christie DEP Green Lights Fracking – Plays Russian Roulette with Delaware River

[Update 3:  4/27/11: Response to PA Gas Well Accident Took 13 Hours Despite State Plan for Quick Action

Update 2 – I wrote this on April 15, 2011:

In these comments, Martin fails to understand that the environmental impacts of fracking are irreversible. A single well blowout or accidental spill would devastate the Delaware River waters. And 300 wells will have large negative impacts, even if no accidents or spills occur, which they innevitably will.

Here’s what happened 4 days later, on April 19, 2011:

Pennsylvania blowout fuels fracking fears

 

PITTSBURGH, April 22 (UPI) — A blowout at a Pennsylvania natural gas well has fueled increased concerns about the already controversial practice of hydraulic fracking.

Shit happens.

Updates 1: This is pretty fracked up. NY Times reports: Fracking for Natural Gas With Diesel Violated Law, EPA Says

We wrote about this awhile back: Cornell study: ‘Fracking’ gas dirtier than coal

What a difference a State makes – check out NY: Albany May Not Allow Fracking, Says Agency Head

and Maryland: MD environment chief wants fed oversight of “fracking”

How did I know that this story and headline could never have come from the US?

Farmers say ‘no fracking way’ to Shell ]

 

My write-up of yesterday’s public hearing on DEP’s waiver rule proposal is hereby interupted to bring you important breaking news.

(if you’re interested in the waiver hearing, read Tom Johnson’s excellent story at NJ Spotlight:  Business Community Favors DEP Decision to Waive Certain Rules – In rare show of unity, environmentalists condemn agency decision to make it easier to sidestep regulations

According to a fracking DEP press release, DEP Commissioner Martin has agreed to comply with the federal Clean Water Act!

While the press release attempts to create the impression that NJ is being aggressive, that is belied by the content of Martin’s comment letter to the DRBC.

The Martin letter supports fast track adoption of deeply flawed DRBC regulations that promote energy industry profits over uknown risks to the Delaware watershed, and defer too greatly to gas bearing State control in Pennsylvania and NY.

Not only are the proposed DRBC regulations scientifically and technically deficient, their adoption would eliminate the current moratorium on fracking in the Delaware Basin and allow drilling to proceed.

That is why thousands of environmentalists are calling for a continuing DRBC moratorium until adequate scientific studies and protective regulations can be developed, and supporting NJ legislation that would outright ban fracking in NJ. 

[Note: Those 35,000 public comments would have been more effectively targted at the 4 Governors that vote on DRBC policy and will soon vote to approve or reject the DRBC regulations that will allow fracking to proceeed. DRBC is a regional body. DRBC staff report to member states and federal reps. Fracking is a major policy issue, not one suited to technical comments on rules. ENGO’s need to target and hold the GOVERNORS accountable!]

Martin’s own comments acknowledge this fundamantal flaw of putting a deficient regulatory cart before the scientific horse. Martin wrote:

“The proposed regulations must include a provision that the DRBC approve no more than 30 production well pads, not to exceed 300 production wells in total, in the two years immediately following adoption of the regulations. At that time the DRBC will assess the impact of these wells before further drilling can occur. This will provide time for the effectiveness of the regulations to be evaluated and will minimize impacts in the event that natural gas development poses risks that were not fully appreciated when the regulations were drafted. Staging such approvals also will allow time for the DRBC to acquire and train a sufficient number of staff members to ensure that are performed properly.

In addition, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently submitted a draft study on fracking and drinking water to their Science Advisory Board for review. Preliminary results are expected in 2012, with a final report anticipated in 2014. Should DRBC or EPA find that the activity is resulting in problems that were not envisioned, the DRBC will be able to correct such problems before a larger number of projects are approved. “ 

In these comments, Martin fails to understand that the environmental impacts of fracking are irreversible. A single well blowout or accidental spill would devastate the Delaware River waters. And 300 wells will have large negative impacts, even if no accidents or spills occur, which they innevitably will.

It is highly irresponsible to proceed with ANY fracking wells until science and risks are understood and protective regulations are developed.

This amounts to playing Russian Roulette with our water supply.

The fracking genie can not be put back in the bottle.

Don’t be fooled by reckless attempts to rely on a phased approach to solve fundamental problems.

The other three “protections” in the DEP press release are already required by federal Clean Water Act and current NJ DEP regulations – so the release is misleading at best.

New Jersey would require: 1) proper management and disposal of the waste material derived from the fracking process, (2) that sources of water from the Basin required for the extraction activity be sustainable, and (3) evidence that water diversions would not cause adverse impacts to other water users or the environment.

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