Draft Natural Gas Development Regulations


The commission will consider adoption of Article 7 of DRBC’s Water Quality Regulations to protect the water resources of the Delaware River Basin during the construction and operation of natural gas development projects. Draft regulations were originally published on December 9, 2010 (“Dec. 2010 draft”). The commission held eighteen hours of public hearings at three locations during February 2011 to receive testimony and received approximately 69,000 submissions commenting on the Dec. 2010 draft during the public comment period that closed on April 15, 2011. DRBC published a revised draft of Article 7 on its web site on November 8, 2011 (“revised draft regulations”). The revisions were guided by the public’s comments and commissioners’ discussions with their respective staff, advisors, and one another.

The revised draft regulations were scheduled to come before the commissioners for adoption consideration at a special meeting on November 21, 2011, but they decided to postpone that meeting to allow additional time for review.

The revised draft regulations apply to all “natural gas development projects” as that term is defined in Section 7.2 , including the construction and operation of all natural gas wells in the basin, regardless of the target geologic formation, whether a well is for production or exploration, and whether high-volume or low-volume hydraulic fracturing is contemplated. Appurtenant infrastructure is also addressed.

The revised draft regulations are divided into sections that address the purpose, authority and scope of the rule (7.1); definitions (7.2); administrative processes (7.3); water sources and conditions of bulk water use and management approvals for natural gas development projects (7.4); the protection of high value water resource landscapes and commission-designated Special Protection Waters through mandatory Natural Gas Development Plans for lease holdings of 3,200 acres or more and for all project sponsors who intend to develop more than five well pads (7.5); and the transfer, treatment and discharge of wastewater generated by natural gas development activities (7.6).

The commission will rely on the oil and gas program of the state in which a natural gas well is located to regulate the construction and operation activities of the natural gas well and well pad for which separate administration by the commission would result in unnecessary duplication. If a state or federal regulatory requirement is more stringent than a DRBC requirement, the more stringent regulation would apply. Upon its effective date, which will be 60 days after commission approval, Article 7 would supersede the Executive Director’s Determinations dated May 19, 2009, June 14, 2010 and July 23, 2010 (see 'Natural Gas Archives' tab on right).

If and when adopted, this Article would constitute a joint exercise of the sovereign authority of Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and the federal government pursuant to the Delaware River Basin Compact. The Article would also amend the commission’s Comprehensive Plan. Commission regulations are one mechanism by which the basin states and federal government work together to manage water resources in an integrated manner for the benefit of all citizens of the basin.

Information on Nov. 8, 2011 Revised Draft:

Revised Draft Natural Gas Development Regulations (pdf 291 KB)

Revised Draft Natural Gas Development Regulations Fact Sheet (pdf 834 KB)

DRBC Postpones November 21 Special Meeting (Nov. 18, 2011 News Release)

Information on Dec. 9, 2010 Draft:

Comments Received on Dec. 9, 2010 DRBC Draft Natural Gas Development Regulations (includes public hearing transcripts)

Draft Natural Gas Development Regulations (pdf 839 KB; full text of PROPOSED Article 7)

"At-a-Glance" Fact Sheet on Draft Natural Gas Development Regulations (pdf 155 KB)

DRBC Extends Comment Period On Draft Natural Gas Development Regulations (Mar. 2, 2011 News Release)

DRBC Draft Natural Gas Regulations Presentation Given at February 22 and 24, 2011 Public Hearings (pdf 1.3 MB)

DRBC Draft Natural Gas Regulations Presentation to Upper Delaware Council (UDC) Project Review Committee (pdf 2.2 MB; Feb. 10, 2011)

DRBC Announces Public Hearings On Draft Natural Gas Regulations (Jan. 24, 2011 News Release)

DRBC Publishes Draft Natural Gas Regulations - 90-Day Written Comment Period Scheduled (Dec. 9, 2010 News Release)

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (pdf 34 KB; as noticed in the Jan. 4, 2011 Federal Register)