NEWTOWN, PA -- The Delaware River Basin Commission has voted to begin the process of implementing a ban on hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, in the river basin, including Wayne and Pike Counties.
The vote Wednesday morning was 3-1, with New Jersey abstaining, to adopt a resolution allowing the banning process to move forward.
Hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" is the process of using liquid to break up underground shale to extract natural gas.
With "yes" votes from the governors of New York, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, the resolution passed to start a process that could result in a permanent ban on fracking in Wayne and Pike Counties.
The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) met at Bucks County Community College near Philadelphia and there were plenty of supporters of a ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for good.
"We want a total and complete and permanent ban on gas drilling and fracking and all its phases throughout the entire Delaware River watershed. We will settle for nothing less," said Tracy Carluccio, Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
The resolution also calls for rules the DRBC considers safe, allowing the disposal of fracking wastewater and transporting it within the Delaware River watershed. The river provides drinking water to 15 million people and has had a de facto moratorium on fracking for nearly a decade.
"All of it is vague," said James Barth of Berlin Township. "We don't know. Commenting is speculation as to whether or not it's just going to impact the drilling and fracking as opposed to waste, the withdrawal of water, and so forth."
Barth is from northern Wayne County and has spent years pushing for a permanent fracking ban, and like many here, will keep coming throughout the process.
The proposed regulations should be out by December followed by hearings and public comment.
The natural gas industry vehemently opposes such a ban while folks, including Barbara Arrindell of Damascus Township in Wayne County, want "all things fracking" banned.
"It's our home and it's your mandate to protect and preserve basin and resources for current and future residents, human and otherwise," Arrindell said.
This is only the beginning of what could be a long process, according to DRBC officials. Back when this process was started some years ago, it took 11 months before those draft regulations were tabled this time.
The commission will hold public hearings and take public comment leading up to the decision.
Executive Director Steve Tambini says he expects to vote on fracking regulations in 2018.