Hundreds pepper DRBC with comments on drilling


Yesterday's two public hearings on the proposed regulation of natural gas drilling by the Delaware River Basin Commmission had a good turnout. According to, about 500 people showed up at the meeting in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, while the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin reports that 250 attended the hearing in Liberty.

In Pennsylvania, according to the Associated Press, most of the speakers were pro-drilling:

Of the first 45 or so people to speak at an afternoon hearing in Honesdale in Wayne County, only five opposed drilling. Supporters said the regulations are cumbersome, have not balanced economic concerns with environmental ones and take away the rights of private property owners.

WNEP-TV, which aired a segment on the hearings which you can watch above, rounded up a few of the pro-drilling contingent's critiques:

Inside the auditorium, many of the comments were against the regulations, saying they are too tough on gas drilling companies.

"You have the audacity to claim that your proposed regulations prevail over our commonwealth, disregarding our own laws," said Carol Woodmansee of Lake Como.

"They would impose 500 foot setbacks from any stream, no matter how small. This is not reasonable," said Amber Stahl of Honesdale.

"We need natural gas now, to invigorate our economy," said Michele Stahl.

U.S. Representative Maurice Hinchey didn't appear at either hearing, but his office submitted a letter to the DRBC that calls for bringing more public hearings to New York:

While the scheduling of three public hearings is a positive step in ensuring that communities throughout the Basin have a full opportunity to comment publicly on this important topic, this limited number of public meetings needs to be expanded and the comment period extended by an additional 90 days based on the importance and complexity of this issue. I would therefore reiterate my earlier request to the Commission to urging it to consider additional public hearings in New York State and other areas that will be impacted by the final regulations for natural gas drilling so that those in Sullivan County who cannot be here today have an opportunity to comment publicly.

Two anti-drilling celebrities -- both of whom are up for Academy awards -- spoke at the Pennsylvania hearing, the Times Herald-Record reports:

"If you go through with the regulations, you are signing the death warrant of the Delaware River," said Josh Fox, a Wayne County resident and director of the Oscar-nominated documentary "GasLand."

Actor Mark Ruffalo, a Callicoon, N.Y., resident, who also is nominated for an Academy Award, seemed to address drilling supporters directly who said they felt confident the state's regulations are sufficient to regulate the natural gas industry.

If there are no problems with the gas industry, why are there so many problems with the gas industry?" he asked, alluding to reports of tainted drinking water and streams in drilling areas.

The Liberty meeting also attracted some shenanigans, the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin reports:

While speakers only had two minutes to make their case, some still chose to take an unconventional approach.

Allan Rubin, of Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, performed an impromptu puppet show to voice his displeasure with the gas industry, complete with full script and cue-card holder.