Voices of the People are Heard at DRBC Meeting
Protecting Our Waters, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and citizens from across the region dominated the meeting of the Delaware River Basin Commission today, calling on the DRBC to exercise its jurisdiction over an ever-burgeoning network of regional fracking infrastructure.
Testimony poured forth from the roughly 70 folks who traveled to West Trenton to kick the DRBC into action. Speakers so overwhelmed the DRBC that it went into recess for a time, and opened up the floor for public comment early. Iris Marie Bloom, director of Protecting Our Waters, reported that speakers were “linking pipeline impacts on air, water and climate; upstream and downstream; from fracking extraction through every stage of distribution.”
The hearing comes on the heels of the DRBC’s unanimous vote in December to deny all requests to exercise their jurisdiction over pipelines, including such destructive lines as the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Northeast Upgrade. In January the DRBC issued a limited reversal of that decision, deciding to review two pipelines that had already been built.
At the meeting today, DRBC chair Kelly Heffner told the audience that the DRBC would addess a formal petition the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Protecting Our Waters and 65 other organizations submitted to it, but would do so at a later hearing. Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum protested that waiting until the next DRBC meeting would be too late.
The DRBC has jurisdiction to protect the Delaware River and its watershed. Under massive public pressure, the DRBC in late 2011 backed off from issuing regulations for gas drilling, effectively stopping new drilling in the Delaware River Basin. However, the DRBC has kept mum while the Delaware River Basin has been despoiled by pipelines and compressor stations, and is under political pressure from Pennsylvania Governor Corbett, among others, to allow fracking in the watershed.