The Fight to Save the Delaware River Continues

A natural gas drilling site.© Mark Schmerling

This is a guest post from Deb Nardone, Director of the Sierra Club's Natural Gas Reform Campaign.

The fight is on to protect one of our nation’s most beautiful and most vital rivers, the Delaware.

Yesterday the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), a group made up of Governor Cuomo, Governor Corbett, Governor Christie, Governor Markell, and Colonel Christopher Larsen of the US Army Corps of Engineers released a final set of rules to allow for natural gas development and destruction in the Delaware River Basin. These proposed rules do not take into account the devastating effects that massive water withdrawals, well pad development and hydraulic fracturing will have on the sensitive Delaware Watershed -- and for that reason, the DRBC must not adopt them.

The Commission’s members have the opportunity to put the people first and stand up for clean water. The Delaware River, its tributaries and groundwater make up the main source of drinking water and economic wellbeing for more than 15 million people. To allow a careless, under-regulated industry off the leash and allow them to drill into the Watershed is foolish and should be a no-brainer. Let me remind the DRBC that it is their legal mandate to fully protect basin resources. Right now, these rules fail to guarantee protection for those who live downstream, putting millions at risk.

In addition to the Commission considering drilling into a major source of drinking water, they also failed to allow for sufficient time for public comment. The public, who will live with the end result of this decision for years to come, should be given enough time to ask questions and express their concerns before this final set of rules are adopted. This public neglect is unacceptable and intolerable.

After hearing yesterday’s news, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune agreed:

The Delaware River Basin Commission is putting fresh water for millions on the chopping block. By ignoring a clear call from the 15 million people who drink its fresh water and putting the profits of big oil and natural gas first, the DRBC has failed. The natural gas industry’s path of destruction is clear and the health of our environment and communities are continually being put at risk. The Sierra Club urges the Delaware River Basin Commission to listen to its residents, hear their concerns and not endanger one of our most precious fresh water sources.

In two weeks, the DRBC will vote to adopt these rules—a vote that will ultimately decide the fate of the Delaware River Watershed and the safe drinking water it provides to more than 15 million people. I hope you will join me in standing up against the dirty practices of the natural gas industry and their reckless desire to drill for gas without concern for those they hurt.

The Delaware River and those who rely on its fresh water need our help. The fight is on, let’s make our voices heard!

The Fight to Save the Delaware River Continues
New natural gas development guidelines released for Delaware River Basin raise major concerns.

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