Fracking ban is about our water

Fracking ban is about our water by Inquirer Editorial Staff, July 11, 2012
The eleventh-hour surprise decision by Pennsylvania lawmakers to ban natural-gas exploration across a swath of suburban Philadelphia is another sign that the region isn’t ready for drilling rigs. It’s possible that it never will be. … Indeed, McIlhinney’s measure may have more to do with assuaging community anger over state-imposed rules that tie local officials’ hands in using zoning to limit drilling. The local ban’s most important impact could be that it reinforces a region-wide drilling moratorium put in place by the multistate agency governing the Delaware River basin. Across a four-state watershed, the drinking water for 15 million people would be imperiled if gas-drilling operations that pump millions of gallons of water, chemicals, and sand deep into the ground should go wrong. Given such high stakes, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) wisely imposed its moratorium more than a year ago while it developed rules under which drilling might be permitted. But fears about the purity of the state’s drinking water cannot be regulated away easily. … Far from lifting its moratorium, the multistate agency should consider enacting a permanent ban on drilling as the only sure way to address Markell’s warning that widespread gas-drilling contamination could leave “freshwater supplies likely requiring generations of effort to clean up.”

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