The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) extended by 30 days the period for submitting written comments on its proposed regulations to ban hydraulic fracturing within the four-state basin it oversees.
The commission said this it was extending the comment period to March 30, from a prior February 28 deadline, Platts reported.
The DRBC also added two public hearings on the proposed rule, which has been widely panned by the oil and gas industry, while praised by environmentalist organizations.
"The commissioners believe the extended comment period and two additional hearings announced today in response to numerous requests will provide adequate opportunities for the public and government officials to study the proposed regulations and offer input to inform the commissioners' decision-making process," DRBC executive director Steve Tambini said, in a statement.
After years of debating the issue, the commission last month formally proposed banning fracking in its watershed, which includes parts of Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
Groups representing the exploration-and-production industry such as the Marcellus Shale Coalition vehemently oppose such a ban, saying it would effectively shut down oil and gas development in a region considered highly prospective for Marcellus Shale production, Platts reported.
To date, the commission has scheduled four public hearings on the proposed rule, two on Jan. 23 in Waymart, Pa., and two on Jan. 25 in Philadelphia.
In addition, the commission will now hold a hearing on February 22 in Schnecksville, Pa., and a moderated public hearing by telephone on March 6, Platts reported.
The DRBC is a federal/interstate government agency made up of representatives of the states of Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.