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Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Public Hearing
Proposed Amendments to the Administrative Manual and Special Regulations Regarding Hydraulic Fracturing Activities; Additional Clarifying Amendments

Summary:

The Delaware River Basin Commission ("Commission") proposes to amend its Special Regulations by the addition of a section on hydraulic fracturing in shale and other rock formations, including:

  • The prohibition of high volume hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) in such formations;
  • Provisions related to water use for hydraulic fracturing; and
  • Provisions related to the management of produced water from hydraulic fracturing.

The Commission also proposes to amend its Administrative Manual – Rules of Practice and Procedure by the addition of project review classifications and fees related to the management of produced water from hydraulic fracturing of hydrocarbon bearing rock formations.

Minor amendments to the project review classifications unrelated to hydraulic fracturing are also proposed.

Texts of Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Proposed Rules, Proposed Guidance Document and FAQ:

Public Comment & Hearing Information (Public Comment Period Open Through 5 p.m. on March 30, 2018)

Written Comments:

  • UPDATED! Written comments will be accepted through 5 p.m. on March 30, 2018 (please note that this is an extension from the previously announced date);
  • Written comments should be submitted - along with any attachments - through the Commission’s online comments webpage at http://dockets.drbc.commentinput.com/;
  • All attachments submitted with written comments should be provided in searchable formats, preferably in .pdf searchable text. Notably, a "picture scan" of a document may not result in searchable text;
  • Nondigitized voluminous materials such as books, journals or collected letters/petitions will not be accepted. Digital submissions of these, as well as articles and websites must be accompanied by a statement containing citations to the specific findings or conclusions the commenter wishes to reference. Email, fax, postal or hand delivery are not acceptable means of submitting materials; and
  • Requests for exceptions to submitting comments via the web-based system may be addressed to: Commission Secretary, DRBC, P.O. Box 7360, West Trenton, NJ 08628

Written comments will receive the same consideration as oral comments.

Registration to Attend and Speak at a Public Hearing:

To reduce uncertainty on the part of attendees about whether they will have a seat and an opportunity to speak at a public hearing, and to provide for a safe and orderly hearing process, the Commission is requiring registration online or on-site to attend each public hearing. Use of the online, web-based registration system is encouraged. The online registration system will track and publish in real time the available capacity for each hearing. Those who registered to attend public hearings #1, #2, #3, and #4 (Waymart, Pa. and Philadelphia, Pa.) by 5 p.m. on December 31, 2017 and those who registered to attend public hearing #5 (Schnecksville, Pa.) by 5 p.m. on January 26, 2018 were provided with an early opportunity to request speaking time. Those who register online after December 31, 2017 (Waymart and Philadelphia hearings) or January 26, 2018 (Schnecksville hearing) to attend a hearing and those who register on-site may also sign up to speak at the hearing and will be heard if time allows. 

Key elements of the procedure are as follows: 

  • Online or on-site registration is required to attend each public hearing.
  • Online registration to attend will remain open until 5 p.m. the day prior to each hearing in Waymart, Philadelphia, and Schnecksville.
  • On-site registration to attend will be available at the hearing venues.
  • Available capacity for each hearing will be posted on the web-based registration system. When users access the system, they will see the number of seats still available or if the venue is at capacity.
  • If capacity has been reached for a specific hearing, online registrants will be placed on a waiting list.
  • Those who do not register to attend a hearing in advance are advised to check the availability of seats BEFORE planning travel to a hearing.
  • Persons who have registered to attend by December 31, 2017 (Waymart and Philadelphia only) or by January 26, 2018 (Schnecksville only) will be contacted by DRBC prior to the hearing dates and provided with an opportunity to request speaking time.
  • If more people request to speak than time allows, those not assigned time will be placed on a waiting list. 
  • If fewer people request to speak than time allows, additional opportunities to request time will be provided on or before the hearing date.
  • The Commission may also consider additional public input opportunities. 
  • Elected government officials and their staff will have the opportunity to identify themselves when registering to attend a hearing.
  • Written and oral comment will receive equal consideration.
  • The public is encouraged to download and read the complete Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Public Hearing (pdf 532 KB) and FAQ (pdf 773 KB) for more information.

Public Hearing Dates, Times, and Locations:

  • Hearing #1: January 23, 2018: 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Performing Arts & Recreation Center (PARC) Pavilion at the Ladore Camp, Retreat and Conference Center, 287 Owego Turnpike, Waymart, PA 18472

  • Hearing #2: January 23, 2018: 6 p.m. to as late as 9:30 p.m.; Performing Arts & Recreation Center (PARC) Pavilion at the Ladore Camp, Retreat and Conference Center, 287 Owego Turnpike, Waymart, PA 18472

  • Hearing #3: January 25, 2018: 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.; DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Philadelphia Airport, 4509 Island Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19153 

  • Hearing #4: January 25, 2018: 6 p.m. to as late as 9:30 p.m.; DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Philadelphia Airport, 4509 Island Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19153

  • NEW! Hearing #5: February 22, 2018: 3 p.m. to as late as 7 p.m.; Lisa Scheller-Wayne Woodman Community Services Center, Lehigh Carbon Community College, 4525 Education Park Drive, Schnecksville, PA 18078; Register to attend: http://bit.ly/2qI1tBC
  • NEW! Hearing #6: March 6, 2018: 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.; This will be a moderated public hearing by telephone. Members of the public are encouraged to listen by calling 1-866-831-8713 and asking the operator to connect them to the DRBC call. Those wishing to address the commission at this hearing can register for an opportunity to speak at http://bit.ly/2pdqxQ9  

The Commission appreciates the participation and input from the public on this important matter. In order to ensure that scheduled public hearings meet the objectives of the Commission and the interested public in a safe and effective manner, it is essential that all DRBC Public Hearing Procedures (pdf 385 KB) are understood and followed. The Commission’s policies related to speaker conduct, audience conduct, safety, security, signs, placards, and banners will be in effect at these public hearings.

Substance of Comments:

The Commission expressly seeks comment on the effects the proposed rules may have within the basin on: water availability, the control and abatement of water pollution, economic development, the conservation and protection of drinking water supplies, the conservation and protection of aquatic life, the conservation and protection of water quality in Special Protection Waters, and the protection, maintenance, and improvement of water quantity and quality basinwide. Comment is also requested on whether use of base fluids other than water for HVHF is practical within the Basin and if so, how it should be addressed in these rules, and on any alternatives to the proposed rules that the commenters would like the Commission to consider, as well as on draft guidance published simultaneously with the rules for determining background concentrations of certain pollutants. The Commission welcomes and will consider any other comments that concern the potential effects of the draft rules on the conservation, utilization, development, management, and control of the water and related resources of the Delaware River Basin. Comments on matters not within this scope may not be considered. 

State and Federal Register Notices:

Links to the state and federal register notices concerning the proposed rulemaking follow. Please note that the Delaware and New York State register notices were published before the Commission announced expansion of the public process by the addition of two hearings (February 22 in Schnecksville, PA and March 6 by telephone) and an extension of the written comment period through March 30.

The public is encouraged to download and read the complete Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Public Hearing (pdf 532 KB) for more information.

 

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Notice Originally Posted/Dated: November 30, 2017