Corbett not keen on Council plan to hold off drilling

A City Council resolution passed last month calling for more studies on natural gas drilling could fall on deaf ears in Harrisburg.

A moratorium is in place for gas-drilling permits in the basin, but Gov. Tom Corbett’s office said it will reopen state land to new drilling. City Council’s resolution pressures the Dela­ware River Basin Commission, the four-state entity mandated to protect water quality in the Delaware River basin, including Philadelphia, to ban hydraulic drilling in the watershed.

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is a drilling technique that pumps millions of gallons of water containing chemicals, sand and other materials into shale in order that gas can escape into the drill more efficiently. Pennsylvania is right in the middle of the issue as the extensive Marcellus Shale region passes under much of the state.

Councilman Curtis Jones Jr., who introduced the resolution, acknowledged the challenge of slowing Shale activities. “Who cares what a City Council pursues when you’re a large company?,” he said. “You’re just one voice in the wilderness.”

Developers say natural gas production will add billions to state revenue and thousands of new jobs, but environmentalists and activists fear that fracking will harm natural resources, in particular the water supply. A Corbett spokesman declined to comment on the resolution.