John Mack - Newtown Supervisor

To Frack or Not to Frack? That is the Question.

At the March 19, 2018, Working Session of the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors (BOS Definition) meeting, a proposed "Oil & Gas Drilling" (i.e., Fracking Definition) amendment to the Joint Municipality Zoning Ordinance (JMZO Definition) of Newtown Township, Upper Makefield, and Wrightstown (the "Jointure") was discussed. This amendment would allow fracking in the RI Rural Industrial District and QA-A Quarry/Agriculture-A District of Wrightstown.

This action is being considered because it is feared that the temporary ban on fracking by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) - a federal/interstate government agency responsible for managing the water resources within the Delaware River Basin – will not be renewed in 2018.

At a March 28, 2018, public meeting, the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors approved Resolution Definition 2018-R-11, which calls upon the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to “enact a complete and permanent ban on natural gas development and hydraulic fracturing and all related activities (including drilling, fracking, wastewater processing and discharges from and water withdrawals for drilling and fracking operations) throughout the basin.”

The DRBC is a federal/interstate government agency responsible for managing the water resources within the Delaware River Basin without regard to political boundaries. Although the Commission proposes to extend its ban on high volume hydraulic fracturing in hydrocarbon bearing rock formations within the Delaware River Basin, it also proposes rules to address the inter-basin transfer of water and wastewater related to hydraulic fracturing; i.e., it would allow such fracking-related activities.

The resolution includes 10 scientific citations as support of the “significant evidence that shale gas development, and its related operations which include all the phases of the fracking process … has adverse effects on public health, property interests, agriculture and on our air, water, and land.”

In an online survey that I hosted, 67% of respondents favored the resolution, whereas 10% said do nothing. 15% thought that Newtown should pass an Ordinance Definition banning fracking. NOTE: A resolution just states a position or policy - it is not a law. See the chart below for a summary of responses.

Survey Results. N=39. This is not a Newtown township approved survey.

“Lawful and properly regulated Fracking has provided a huge boost to Pennsylvania’s economy and US’s energy independence!,” said one anonymous respondent. “Do it right and we all benefit!”

“People are generally against fracking but it's hard to determine what the ramifications of a change would be,” said Jan Filios, a resident of Newtown and a representative of Bucks Environmental Action.

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