"WEST TRENTON, N.J. -- The Delaware River Basin Commission hasn't heard the last word on natural gas drilling in northeast Pennsylvania. It agreed last week to hold further hearings there on its drilling moratorium.
At issue is the quality and quantity of water in the Delaware River watershed, a mile beneath which lies the vast, gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation.
The gas is extracted by hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking,' a horizontal drilling process using millions of gallons of water mixed with chemicals and sand -- with the potential, critics say, to pollute and deplete the region's water resources.
Nearly 600 residents attended a daylong DRBC meeting last week to plead their clashing cases: that drilling is needed not only to produce relatively clean energy but to save economically strapped communities -- or that the process threatens both groundwater and surface water and could deplete streams and aquifers."