Natural Gas Drilling Index Page
Pending Rulemaking: Regulations Regarding Hydraulic Fracturing Activities

As of March 30, 2018, the 120-day comment period closed on this proposed rulemaking.

The Commission will take time to review and consider the oral comments and written submissions received, determine whether any changes based on the comments are appropriate, and prepare a response document. There is no set schedule for a vote by the Commissioners to adopt final rules. As always, the Commission may adopt final rules only at a duly-noticed public meeting.

Written submissions received and public hearing transcripts are available for review and download. Click here to view and to learn more about this proposal.


  • September 13, 2017 - DRBC announced that the commission approved a resolution at their regularly scheduled business meeting to publish revised draft rules addressing natural gas development activities within the Delaware River Basin.
  • November 30, 2017 - DRBC announced that the commission posted on its web site the draft proposed regulations regarding hydraulic fracturing activities in the basin and the schedule of planned public hearings and written comment period.
  • January 8, 2018 - DRBC announced that the period for written comment on proposed regulations regarding hydraulic fracturing activities in the basin has been extended from Feb. 28 to March 30, 2018 and that additional public hearings also have been scheduled in February and March.
Legal Challenge by Wayne Land and Mineral Group, LLC

On May 17, 2016, Wayne Land and Mineral Group, LLC (WLMG) filed a complaint against the DRBC in federal district court. U.S. District Court Judge Robert D. Mariani issued his Opinion and Order on March 23, 2017 granting DRBC's Motion to Dismiss the case. The plaintiffs (WLMG) filed a Notice of Appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on April 7, 2017. On July 3, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit remanded the case back to the district court. The DRBC will not be commenting on this active legal matter at this time.

Natural Gas Development Background Information

Extent of Marcellus Shale Formation in the Delaware River Basin

Much of the new drilling interest taking place in northeastern Pennsylvania and southern New York is targeted at reaching the natural gas found in the Marcellus Shale formation, which underlies about 36 percent of the Delaware River Basin. Because the Marcellus Shale is considered a tight geologic formation, natural gas deposits were not previously thought to be practically and economically mineable using traditional techniques. New horizontal drilling and extraction methods, coupled with higher energy costs, have given energy companies reason to take a new interest in mining the natural gas deposits within the Marcellus Shale.

However, these new extraction methods require large amounts of fresh water to fracture the formation to release the natural gas. A significant amount of water used in the extraction process is recovered, but this "frac water" includes natural gas and chemicals added to facilitate the extraction process, as well as brine and other contaminants released from the formation.

Why Is The DRBC Involved?

The DRBC is a federal-interstate compact government agency that was formed by concurrent legislation enacted in 1961 by the United States and the four basin states (Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware). Its five members include the basin state governors and the Division Engineer, North Atlantic Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who serves as the federal representative. The commission has legal authority over both water quality and water quantity-related issues throughout the basin.

In connection with natural gas drilling, the commission has identified three major areas of concern:

  1. Gas drilling projects in the Marcellus Shale or other formations may have a substantial effect on the water resources of the basin by reducing the flow in streams and/or aquifers used to supply the significant amounts of fresh water needed in the natural gas mining process.
  2. On-site drilling operations may potentially add, discharge, or cause the release of pollutants into the ground water or surface water.
  3. The recovered "frac water" must be treated and disposed of properly.

Note: The commission does not get involved in the private negotiations taking place between natural gas drilling companies and private property owners. However, property owners are advised to seek appropriate technical and legal representation to ensure that they obtain adequate protection of their property.