“Fracking rally in Trenton draws almost 1,000” — Press Highlights
TRENTON — Nearly 1,000 people opposed to Delaware River watershed gas drilling rallied Monday in Trenton, essentially taking a victory lap after public pressure led a regional basin commission to postpone a vote on fracking, or hydraulic drilling.
Fracking foes concerned over health and environmental impacts — ranging from three-time Oscar nominee Debra Winger to “Gasland” filmmaker Josh Fox — told the crowd that the fight is not over, warning that the commissioners from New Jersey, Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania are likely to consider the matter in the future.
“We shut them down by swarming them with calls, swarming them them with emails, and with the threat that we’d shut down this meeting,” Fox said, drawing loud cheers. “We were not afraid of jail. I know a lot of you were not afraid to go to jail. I’m really happy we don’t have to go to jail.”
Even if the commission approves development of natural gas wells within 13,000-square-mile watershed, it will not be endgame, Fox promised.
“When it comes time to blockade the wells, we‘ll blockade the wells,” he shouted.
The administration is holding its cards close to the vest on the drilling proposal before the Delaware River Basin Commission. The obscure but important agency has authority over development in a watershed that includes parts of four states and supplies drinking water to 5 percent of the country’s population, including Philadelphia and New York City.
Late last week, the commission called off a vote that had been planned for today on whether to approve regulations and allow drilling to start.
The four governors who vote on the panel appear to be split, 2-2. The administration, represented on the panel by an Army Corps of Engineers commander, has the key fifth vote. That gives the White House a role in what is commonly a state decision.
As with the Keystone XL pipeline, the drilling dispute catches Obama between an industry that is promising jobs and development amid a stubborn economic downturn and an environmental constituency on the other side that has grown disenchanted with Obama’s compromises on pollution and climate change issues.
AT THE VERY last minute on Friday, the Delaware River Basin Commission canceled today’s public meeting at which its five members were scheduled to vote on ending a moratorium on fracking in the Delaware River watershed. The obvious reason: There weren’t enough votes to pass it.
But what had been billed as the biggest-ever rally against hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, with thousands expected to coverge on Trenton, is still planned to go on today, and that’s smart. Demonstrations like these are playing an increasingly important role in the debate about fossil fuels, and the long term cost to health and environment.
People are showing they have power to protect the environment; but like freedom, it will require constant vigilance.
Environmental victories are so rare that apparently even environmentalists don’t quite know how to kick back and rejoice. At a rally in Trenton, New Jersey on Monday, discussion veered between joyous celebration of Friday’s announcement by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to indefinitely postpone a vote that would have paved the way for 20,000 natural gas wells in the region and serious preparation to one day block their construction through nonviolent direct action.
These activists can be excused, however, for mixing business with pleasure because even more rare than an environmental victory is one that’s complete and total. Much like the recent announcement by the Obama administration to delay a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline that would transport tar sands oil from Canada to Texas, the DRBC vote delay was hardly an indictment of extreme carbon-based extraction that poisons water and the atmosphere. If anything, it’s a temporary roadblock to something government seems all too happy to allow.Another stirring account was rendered by Stephen Cleghorn — an organic farmer from Pennsylvania’s Jefferson County, whose land was leased for natural gas extraction without his knowing. He offered a heartfelt, if not wrenching, story of testifying before an impotent Department of Energy subcommittee on natural gas, while his wife was dying of cancer.
“I have a power in my soul now to enforce a moratorium of one if I have to,” he said. “But I don’t have to, because we are building a mighty movement to stop this.”