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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 7, 2010

Contact: Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Lawrence Ragonese (609) 292-2994

COMMISSIONER MARTIN CALLS FOR SAFEGUARDS ON MARCELLUS SHALE
GAS-DRILLING TO PROTECT DELAWARE RIVER

(10/P141) TRENTON –Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin today reaffirmed the state's position that clear and stringent standards must be put in place to protect the resources of the Delaware River before natural-gas drilling in a geologic formation known as Marcellus Shale is allowed to move ahead.

Commissioner Martin, in a letter today, urged the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to enact and implement strict standards to protect the river - which provides a quarter of New Jersey's drinking water - from the hydraulic gas-extraction process known as fracking until New York and Pennsylvania implement their own standards. These states are poised to experience significant growth in Marcellus Shale natural gas development.

"New Jersey continues to oppose any drilling of fracking wells in the Delaware River Basin until appropriate regulations and standards are in place," Commissioner Martin wrote to DRBC Executive Director Carol Collier. "Strong safeguards to protect public water supplies and ensure that the wastes generated are properly managed and treated must be established before drilling. We reiterate that without those safeguards, drilling in the Marcellus Shale is unacceptable to New Jersey - as we believe it is to the DRBC, indicated by last spring's vote to postpone additional approvals of extraction wells."

The DRBC is a multi-state commission that provides a unified approach to managing a river system shared by four states - New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware. The DRBC is poised to release draft regulations to establish operating standards for the development of natural gas wells and management in the basin.

"New Jersey will continue to support firm DRBC regulations to protect the Delaware River until Pennsylvania and New York put regulations in place," Commissioner Martin wrote. "New Jersey does not aim to unnecessarily delay another state's development; we want only to ensure that any drilling proceeds in an environmentally safe manner."

While no drilling would occur in New Jersey, Commissioner Martin expressed concern that expansion of drilling in New York and Pennsylvania could have significant impacts on the Delaware River. As many as 10,000 wells could be drilled in portions of the basin in those states.

Hydraulic fracturing uses high volumes of water mixed with small amounts of sand and chemical compounds to extract natural gas locked within the shale. New drilling and extraction techniques have renewed interest by energy-development companies in drilling for natural gas deposits trapped within the Marcellus formation, which is estimated to contain enough natural gas to meet U.S. demand for decades.

To read Commissioner Martin's letter, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/docs/collier-drbc20101207.pdf

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Last Updated: December 7, 2010