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Public Comment DRBC draft regulations on fracking in the Delaware River watershed Feb 4, 2011 from Jerry Silberman

February 8, 2011

“As a threshold matter, I do not believe that the draft regulations should have been released, without the completion of detailed environmental impact anaylses,their public release, and a period for discussion. Without a clear analysis of the risks, and the measures that would be necessary to eliminate or minimize them, how can you know what to regulate? You are flying blind, trying to navigate without instruments, and disaster is almost guaranteed as a result.

That said, the draft regulations as I understand them are exceedingly weak and do not offer any incentive to drilling companies to make their operations safe. The financial assurance (Sec. 7.3(k)8 is an insult. This is not enough to even begin clean-up on a serious mishap, nor is it enough to fund well sealing and remediation should a company fail to meet its responsibility, nor is it a sufficient sum to encourage safe practices on the part of the drillers. Similarly, section 7.3 (k)17 reinforces the inadequacy of this sum. Experience in regions where fracking is long standing show that there are effects on the hydrological system, including penetration of gas and fracking fluids into ground water, where we have no idea of the duration of the impact. These funds should be increased by at least a factor of 10, with a right of the DRBC, in addition, to put a lien on assets of the company as well to enforce remediation. The financial impact of misconduct must be steep enough to force drillers to build in safety.

Section 7.5(b)4 is another example of a proposed regulation which is far to generous  to the gas drillers, and which experience has already shown will not be sufficient to protect the water supply. The setbacks should be much greater, and should be based on a multiple of the horizontal distance of the frack bore to the body or occupied building. What good does 500 feet do when the horizontal bore may go 10 or 20 times as far? Without observational, and perhaps experimental studies as to the upward percolation of fluids from frack bores, a superficial setback is simply useless.”

Submitted by Jerry Silberman via The National Park Service’s (NPS) Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) online submission system.

Submit your own comment by going to the NPS web site, click on the ‘Open For Comment’ link to the left hand side and select the document ‘Natural Gas Development Regulations – DRAFT’.  Review the draft and click on the comment button above the draft.

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