Fracking Ban Coalition: More than 40,000 Comments Support a Complete Fracking Ban in the Delaware River Watershed

DRBC Release Misleads Public with Underreported Comment Numbers

National environmental organizations, anti-fracking groups, community organizations, and
residents announced today that their members had submitted at least 40,000 comments to the
Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) in support of a full ban on fracking and all drillingrelated
activities, including wastewater treatment and water withdrawals. The coalition also
submitted a letter signed by 126 groups, representing millions of members, making the same
Even though more than 40,000 comments were filed during the comment period, a DRBC press
release states it received less than 9,000. The discrepancy is due to the fact that the DRBC
counted thousands of individual comments submitted by members of organizations as a single
comment. This serves to severely diminish the widespread support across the region, and the
country, for a full ban. (See below for examples.)
“People trusted that their comments to DRBC would be fairly represented in the record, but
DRBC is playing with the figures to bury the bold numbers that prove the fierce opposition of the
public to fracking, and the dominant all-out demand for a complete ban on fracking, on frack
wastewater dumping, and on water depletion that would stimulate fracking in other watersheds.
The people have spoken and we’re going to be heard, no matter how anyone spins the truth –
we want DRBC to ban fracking, to ban it all,” said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director,
Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
The comments came after months of educating on the need for a comprehensive ban on
fracking activities in the Basin, which is a source of clean drinking water for over 17 million
residents in the region.
“The public comment period has demonstrated that people from across the country and
throughout the Delaware River Basin are opposed to allowing any fracking-related activities in
this treasured watershed,” said Emily Wurth, Organizing Co-Director, Food & Water Watch.
“The DRBC and Governors Wolf, Cuomo, Carney and Murphy should protect this essential
drinking water supply and support banning fracking wastewater and water withdrawals in the
Draft regulations announced in November 2017 by the DRBC proposed a ban on high volume
hydraulic fracturing throughout the watershed. But the draft regulations also proposed to allow
wastewater storage, processing and discharges linked to fracking, as well as withdrawals of
water that would be used by drilling companies to carry out fracking operations in other areas.

“The facts are in–Delawareans, and residents of the other Basin states are overwhelmingly in
support of a full and comprehensive ban on fracking activities in our watershed. This is
evidenced by the more than 40,000 comments submitted to the DRBC despite the relatively
short amount time given to review and comment on the proposed draft regulations. In Delaware,
almost every aspect of our quality of life depends in one way or another on water. Unfortunately,
too many of our waterways are already considered ‘impaired’ due to previous pollution. The first
rule of getting out of a hole is to stop digging, and allowing fracking wastewater storage,
processing and disposal upstream would be a big step in the wrong direction. The Delaware
Sierra Club stands by our allies in supporting a COMPLETE fracking ban in the Delaware River
Basin; Anything less than that puts our residents at an unnecessary and unacceptable risk,”
said Stephanie Heron, Outreach Coordinator, Sierra Club, Delaware Chapter.
Barbara Arrindell, Director of Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, adds, “It goes against
science and the Compact that underpins the DRBC to allow the proven pollution of fracking
wastes into the Basin.”
“The proposed rules continue to put the drinking water for millions at risk, and the people of this
region have made it clear that’s unacceptable,” said Rob Friedman, Policy Advocate, Natural
Resources Defense Council. “A fracking ban here would be historic—but a true ban does not
stop at drilling. The commission must put all of the harmful activity that goes with fracking—from
disposing of chemical-laden wastewater to extracting clean water to frack elsewhere—off limits
in the Delaware River Basin.”
Advocates for a comprehensive fracking ban have also packed the recent public hearings
convened by the DRBC, demonstrating broad support for enacting policies that would keep the
basin completely free from fracking.
“Many of the comments we collected from our members included outrage, not just at the toxins
being considered to release in the basin but, that after ten years of speaking out against this
inherently polluting industry coming to our region that it still gets consideration disregarding
people and the health of our ecosystem,” said Wes Gillingham, Associate Director of Catskill
Mountainkeeper. “After the thousands of peer reviewed studies, the horrific personal stories,
accidents and the state of our public waters nationally it is nonsense to allow fracking,
wastewater discharge or water withdrawals to happen here.”
“The Sierra Club stands with the thousands of people of the Delaware Valley who came out
against fracking and support a complete ban of fracking activities. The DRBC must listen to the
people and ban fracking including not allowing dumping fracking waste or taking water for
fracking activities elsewhere. You do not protect the Basin from fracking by allowing the
dumping of fracking waste. Having a partial ban that actually allows the dumping of fracking
waste still puts the drinking water and environment of the Basin at risk. Dumping fracking
wastewater is dangerous because it contains over 600 different toxic chemicals, many of them
carcinogenic. This could lead to pollution and contaminated drinking water,” said Jeff Tittel,
Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “The DRBC needs to protect our water and not only
implement this ban but also be sure not to turn the Basin into a dumping ground for fracking
The battle over fracking in the Delaware River basin goes back nearly a decade. A sustained
campaign by environmentalists and residents of groups derailed a plan to introduce fracking,
leading the Commission in 2010 to prohibit gas extraction projects in the basin while it studied
the impacts of fracking on the basin’s water resources.