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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • Gas drilling issue remains in limbo

  • A major story appears on the front page of today's newspaper concerning Marcellus shale drilling as it relates to Wayne County.
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    A major story appears on the front page of today's newspaper concerning Marcellus shale drilling as it relates to Wayne County.
    The story is the fact two gas drilling companies have canceled their leases with property owners in northern Wayne County.
    Members of the Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance say the economic blow to the county is more than $185 million.
    It is the belief of this group that the Delaware River Basin Commission has dragged its feet and has successfully blocked any gas exploration or development in Wayne County.
    For those on the other side of the issue, this is surely a victory when it comes to their environmental concerns.
    The decision by the two companies comes at an interesting time for those against fracking. Controversial filmmaker Josh Fox recently had the debut of his second anti-fracking film, Gasland II, on HBO.
    The film depicts what Fox says is the environmental train wreck which is shale gas drilling.
    But critics say that Fox is full of it and has made the movie based on lies and deceptions in an effort to bolster his personal agenda.
    That's little solace for the property owners in the Wayne County who believe gas exploration and development would change the economic tide in this region.
    Who is right and who is wrong remains the $64,000 question — or multi-million dollar question, depending on who you ask.
    Here's one fact which can't be disputed: These sides are so far apart in their views it doesn't appear any reasonable compromise can ever be reached.
    Those on the pro-fracking side of the issue say Fox and his followers are nothing more than left-wing extremists who want to keep the Pocono region as a playground for themselves and the tourists.
    Page 2 of 2 - Those on the anti-fracking side of the issue say the property owners are nothing more than greedy landowners who care more about money than making sure the land and water are kept clean for future generations.
    It's certainly an interesting battle.
    But interesting does not solve any of the problems.
    The biggest hurdle lies with the DRBC, which has authority over gas exploration in Wayne County. The commission was formed in the 1960s by President John F. Kennedy to protect water resources in the Delaware River Basin.
    The main thrust of that decision was to make sure there was adequate water available in the basin — which is home to a sizable portion of the entire population of America including New York City.
    There seems little doubt that DRBC has continued to drag its feet when it comes to shale drilling.
    But why?
    That remains an open question. Some say it's because the group is heavily influenced by environmental groups who oppose drilling. Others say it's because they are looking out for the best environmental interests of people in this region.
    The truth might lie somewhere in the middle, but the fact remains gas drilling in Wayne County appears a long way in the future, if at all.
    That is the real crux of the matter.
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