Sometimes, there's an element of a see-saw (slow-moving, of course) at meetings of the Delaware River Basin Commission.
There's the long-standing "muling" that the commissioners have been doing about whether to ban fracking in the basin. A decision on that is expected... sometime...? It's been eight years since a de facto moratorium (not to be confused with an actual ban) has been in force, and now there's a full set of Democratic governors in the four basin states.
Here's the see-saw: The DRBC seems eager to list the perils of fracking in its proposed rule-making, as seen here:
The Commission has determined that high volume hydraulic fracturing poses significant, immediate and long-term risks to the development, conservation, utilization, management, and preservation of the water resources of the Delaware River Basin and to Special Protection Waters of the Basin, considered by the Commission to have exceptionally high scenic, recreational, ecological, and/or water supply values. Controlling future pollution by prohibiting such activity in the Basin is required to effectuate the Comprehensive Plan, avoid injury to the waters of the Basin as contemplated by the Comprehensive Plan and protect the public health and preserve the waters of the Basin for uses in accordance with the Comprehensive Plan.
Yet, as part of the proposed rule-making it's also setting forth rules about how much fracking wastewater can be allowed into the basin and how much basin water can be exported for fracking.
If fracking is bad, one might assume that its related activities are too?
Seeing a way to highlight their concern about all the fracking issues, 15 environmental groups celebrated the eighth anniversary of this de facto fracking moratorium by submitting a petition with 104,805 signatures to the DRBC at its meeting on Dec. 12, 2018. In part the petition read:
We, the undersigned, call for the Delaware River Basin Commission to enact a permanent ban on natural gas drilling and fracking and all related actives (including drilling; fracking; fracking wastewater storage processing and discharges; and water withdrawals for drilling and fracking) throughout the Delaware River Watershed.
Berks Gas Truth
Bucks Environmental Action
Clean Water Action NJ
Damascus Citizens for Sustainability
Delaware Riverkeeper Network
Delaware Sierra Club
Environment New Jersey
Food and Water Watch
Natural Resources Defense Council
NJ Sierra Club
Pennsylvania Chapter Sierra Club
Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter
Think Ocean Delaware
And in more political moves and counter moves on the fracking issue, the results are in from the audit demanded by the Pennsylvania General Assembly of the DRBC and the SRBC (Susquehanna River Basin Commission). Pennsylvania lawmakers have largely been in support of the fracking industry, and this request can be seen as inspired by the likelihood of a fracking ban in the Delaware watershed.
The Pennsylvania auditor general Eugene DePaquale is a Democratic appointee of the recently re-elected Democratic governor, Tom Wolf.
Are you hearing the squeak of the see-saw yet? Or maybe a better metaphor would be a tennis match? Advantage: Pennsylvania General Assembly (by getting the auditor to hold the two commissions' feet to an imagined financial fire.)
De Paquale gave the SRBC a spanking over some liquor expenses, but largely gave the DRBC what might be called a passing grade except for the areas listed. Here's a link to both of the auditor's reports.
Here's the DRBC's summary
But the see-saw fell off its beam at this: The auditor general reprimanded the states (all of them except Delaware) for NOT fulfilling their financial commitments to the DRBC. I wrote about this here
So, I suppose it's back at you, Pennsylvania General Assembly. Turns out, the auditor general finds you owe the DRBC some money. Would that be, in tennis terms, Advantage DRBC?
To be fair there are still voices that find the auditor general's audit to be unsatisfactory, calling it a whitewash. Here's a link
Speaking of all things white: What are the chances of a White Christmas?
Amy Shallcross, the DRBC's manager of Water Resource Operations, suggested we discover for ourselves by checking out the historic probability at this National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration site.
For my part of the watershed, it looks to be about a 40 percent chance. What's yours?
And lastly, since we have so much time on our hands at this quiet time of year (?) remember to vote for the Delaware River as Pennsylvania's River of the Year. Voting is through Friday, Jan. 4. Vote at http://pariveroftheyear.org/2019-river-of-the-year-2/vote-for-a-2019-river-of-the-year/.
Residents of New York, New Jersey and Delaware take note: You don't have to be a Pennsylvania resident to vote!!
With that, to all a good night!!