In 1961, the Delaware River Basin Compact (Compact) established the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), which is a regional body that has the legal authority to manage the area comprising the Delaware River without regard to political boundaries. The DRBC consists of the commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers North Atlantic Division, and the governors from the four states that surround the Delaware River: New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey. Approximately one-third of the Delaware River Basin sits on top of the Marcellus Shale.
In May 2009, the Executive Director of the DRBC, Carol R. Collier, announced that all natural gas extraction project sponsors within the drainage area of the Special Protection Waters were required to get approval from the DRBC before beginning extraction projects, with the exception of “wells intended solely for exploratory purposes.” In June 2010, however, a supplemental Executive Order was announced, which discarded the 2009 exclusion for exploratory wells due to concern for water resources that could be affected by any drilling of shale gas wells in the Delaware River Basin.
Additionally, in May 2010, the DRBC unanimously voted to draft regulations for natural gas development in the Delaware River Basin and to postpone further consideration of well pad dockets until regulations were adopted. In November 2011, drafted regulations were published; however, they have never been formally considered by the Commission. Therefore, the moratorium on drilling established by the Executive Order in the Delaware River Basin is still in place. Currently, the DRBC has neither adopted regulations pertaining to the natural gas exploration in the Delaware River Basin, nor provided a timeframe within such regulations might be drafted and voted upon.
This guide is intended to present a collection of legal resources relating to natural gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin. While the Center for Agriculture and Shale Law makes every effort to maintain and update the content furnished in this guide, no warranty or other guarantee is made regarding the timeliness or accuracy of any information provided.