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As unregulated energy fleeces Texans, Northeast states bet on sensible water management

Delaware River at sunset Mt. Bethel PA

As Texas grapples with a colossal failure of both energy infrastructure and citizen protection following decades of energy deregulation, a consortium of Northeast states outlaw natural gas fracking in the Delaware River Basin this week in a win for business, people and the environment.

Fracking and the Northeast

For over a decade energy companies like Chesapeake Appalachia, Chevron and Cabot Oil and Gas have fought for access to natural gas deposits in the Marcellus Shale which runs from West Virginia to Maine. While Pennsylvania has allowed the environmentally damaging practice, neighboring New York has banned the method statewide since 2014.

The Delaware River Basin includes those areas of Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania that feed water to the Delaware River. The river draws tourists to towns and businesses along its shores. Photo: DRBC and New Jersey

The Delaware River Basin Commission, formed in 1961 by Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania to protect the states’ interests in the shared waterway, ruled that fracking “poses significant risks to the water resources of the Delaware River Basin.”

Fracking and Water

Hydraulic fracturing has contaminated hundreds of water supplies, both private and municipal, across Pennsylvania since extraction began in the state over a decade ago. Benzene, ethylene glycol, methanol, other carcinogens and heavy metals are common in fracking. The EPA identified over 1,000 chemicals in fracking formulas between 2005 and 2013. High traces of naturally-occurring radioactivity is often found in fracking waste water.

“Fracking poses significant risks to the water resources of the Delaware River Basin and prohibiting high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the basin is vital to preserving our region’s recreational and natural resources and ecology,” states DRBA member and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.

Decades of Texas Deregulation

Sensible environmental regulation coming from the Northeast contrasts sharply with successful, decades-long efforts by Texas Republicans to eliminate regulation on business, even in the area of public utilities.

Republican-lead initiatives in the state have removed it from the national power grid and as unseasonably cold weather froze outdated, unsecured natural gas distribution lines, consumers are left with exorbitant bills.

Some consumers have paid thousands of dollars for one week’s electricity.

Sullivan County legislator Alan Sorensen advocates for county government involvement in protecting and developing natural resources for public use and tourism. Photo: Jonathan Hyman/Orange County Government

The Washington Post reports that more money flowed through the Texas energy market last week than has flowed through the market in the previous three years combined.

Northeast Bi-Partisan Regulation

Two hours outside of New York City in Sullivan County, sensible environmental regulation is bi-partisan. The River Reporter quotes Sullivan County Republican legislator Alan Sorensen on the topic of nature tourism, “It benefits the entire community, makes the county more attractive and enhances the quality of life.”

Tourism accounts for 20% of Sullivan County jobs according to the Sullivan Catskills Visitors Association and Delaware River recreation is critical to regional business.

“Fracking threatens the health of our people, water, climate, and communities and we’re relieved to see it outlawed in the Delaware River Basin.” writes Sierra Club representative Patrick Grenter.

Cover: Craig Adderley/Pexels

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