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Fracking ban proposed for Delaware River Basin

Delaware Public Media

The Delaware River Basin Commission released a draft Thursday, proposing amendments to its fracking regulations.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the process of using water to extract oil and natural gas from shale formations underground.

The draft regulations propose a permanent ban on fracking in the basin, but would allow for the disposal of treated fracking wastewater into the basin, as well as the removal of water from the basin to be used for fracking elsewhere.

Delaware Sierra Club spokeswoman Stephanie Herron commends the ban, but says even if fracking wastewater is treated it could potentially be hazardous if introduced to a watershed providing drinking water for more than 15 million people.

“Which is of grave concern, because some of the chemicals that are in fracking waste are extremely different than the things that a traditional wastewater treatment plant treats for and some of them probably can never be fully removed,” said Herron.

A fracking ban would likely change little in Delaware, as there are no accessible reserves to make it economically feasible. And Herron says if the state were to leave the door open for wastewater disposal into the basin and allow the use of its water for out of state fracking, it sends the wrong message.

“If we are recognizing that it is not safe enough to do here, then for us to condone doing it elsewhere is completely in violation of the principles of environmental justice,” said Herron.

Public hearings will be held in January to discuss the draft proposal.

The Delaware River Basin Commission is the group proposing the regulation changes, and is chaired by Governors from Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania and a Colonel from the Army Corps of Engineers.

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