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November 09, 2011

The Fight to Save the Delaware River Continues

Schmerling_004

The fight is on to protect one of our nation's most beautiful and 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 that would allow natural gas development and destruction in the Delaware River Basin. The proposed rules do not take into account the devastating effects that massive water withdrawals, well-pad development, and hydraulic fracturing would 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, including its tributaries and groundwater, is the main source of drinking water and economic well-being for more than 15 million people. To allow a careless, under-regulated industry to drill into the watershed is foolish. Let me remind the DRBC that their legal mandate is 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 considering drilling into a major source of drinking water, the Commission has also failed to allow sufficient time for public comments. The public, which must live with the 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 is adopted.  This public neglect is unacceptable and intolerable.

Upon 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 by 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 sources of fresh water

In two weeks, the DRBC will vote on whether to adopt these rules -- a vote that ultimately will decide the fate of the Delaware River watershed and the safe drinking water that it provides for 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!

 -- Deb Nardone is the Sierra Club's Natural Gas Reform Campaign Director. Photo by Mark Schmerling.

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