Much of Pennsylvania, including Wayne County, is underlain with rich deposits of natural gas, according to recent published reports. As such, there has been a tremendous amount of activity in certain areas of the State regarding the exploration and production of this natural resource. The exploration activity is largely focused on the Marcellus Shale formation currently, although there are reportedly other formations that may be explored as well in the future.
Statewide in 2010, there were 3,314 Marcellus Shale permits issued and 1,386 wells drilled, according to information obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. In Wayne County, nine (9) permits were issued and three (3) wells were drilled, according to the PA DEP. Despite the fact that a large amount of Wayne County acreage has been leased, the drilling is less than what has occurred in other Northern Tier Pennsylvania counties in 2010. A significant factor that distinguishes Wayne County from other northern tier counties is that the majority of Wayne County falls within the Delaware River Basin and is, therefore, subject to the regulatory oversight of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) instead of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC). In the summer of 2010, the DRBC instituted a moratorium on drilling for natural gas in the basin. The reason for the moratorium, according to the DRBC, was to allow for the development of draft regulations for natural gas drilling. The draft regulations were released by the DRBC on December 9th of 2010. The release of the draft regulations will be followed by a 90-day written comment period and three public hearings, which were scheduled for February of 2011.
In regard to the proposed draft natural gas regualtions of the DRBC, the comment period ended on April 15th, 2011. According to comments from Carol Collier, Executive Director of the DRBC, September of this year is likely the earliest DRBC Commissioners would vote on the proposed regulations.