DRBC Cancels Controversial Nov 21 Vote on Gas Drilling Regulations

In what is being hailed as a BIG WIN FOR THE DELAWARE RIVER WATERSHED, The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) has cancelled, or postponed, its scheduled November 21st meeting in which the commission was to vote on opening the Delaware River Watershed to industrial shale gas drilling. THE MORATORIUM STANDS! It’s a victory for the nearly 74,000 people who petitioned the DRBC not to frack in the river basin. The watershed protection coalition’s news release is bounding across the internet this morning.
News Release by Coalition:
Berks Gas Truth * Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy  Catskill Mountainkeeper * Damascus Citizens for Sustainability * Delaware Riverkeeper Network * Environment New Jersey * Food and Water Watch Hudson Riverkeeper * New Jersey Sierra Club * NYH2O * New Jersey Environmental Federation *PA Clean Water Action * United for Action

For Immediate Release, November 17, 2011:

“Turning Point in the Delaware River Watershed Against Gas Drilling and Fracking Delaware River Basin Commission CANCELS Special Meeting Governor Jack Markell of Delaware Announces Opposition”

Wilmington, DE – The Delaware River Basin Commission has cancelled the special meeting set for Monday November 21 they had scheduled to vote on opening the Delaware RiverWatershed for gas drilling and fracking.  The dominoes began to fall when Governor Jack Markell announced that Delaware would vote against the plan to allow gas development to commence in the Delaware River Watershed.  New York had earlier stated that they were voting “NO” on the proposal.  Apparently, the Commission did not feel they had the three votes needed to move the proposal forward, canceling the use of the War Memorial Theater for Monday.
Members of the public who opposed the adoption of the proposed natural gas development regulations praised Governor Markell for putting science above politics and listening to tens of thousands of people who have said “Don’t Drill the Delaware”.  They also cheered the cancellation of the meeting and heralded the news as the first step towards killing the plan to allow drilling and fracking for natural gas in the sensitive Delaware River Watershed, water supply for 15 million people and a National Wild and Scenic River.
The Delaware River Basin Commission is composed of the Governors of the four states that drain to the Delaware River, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware and a federal representative, the Army Corps of Engineers for the Obama Administration.  The issue has been a raging controversy over the past 3 1Ž2 years; a drilling moratorium is currently in place in the Basin while the DRBC develops natural gas regulations.  If Monday’s vote has approved the regulations, gas drilling and fracking would have commenced in the Upper and Middle Delaware River Watershed which is underlain by Marcellus and Utica Shales.
“The issue of shale gas drilling has finally moved out of the political arena and is now being treated as an issue of genuine public policy concern,” said Delaware Riverkeeper Maya K. van Rossum. “This is a big win for the River and the region” concluded van Rossum, “Now we just need to put the nail in the coffin and make sure gas drilling in the Delaware River watershed stays down and out of our basin.”
“CLEARLY THE CITIZENS VOICE HAS BEEN HEARD!  We have won this round.  We will continue to fight until we stop fracking in the Delaware permanently!  Thousands of citizens weighed in with the Governors of Delaware, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania and the Obama administration and we have turned the tide against fracking in the Delaware River basin.  This is a huge victory for the movement against fracking worldwide.  We do not know yet if this is a cancellation of a month or a year or indefinitely, but we will oppose fracking the Delaware River until it has been banned from the basin.  We are awaiting the DRBCs next announcement and we will move forward once they announce their next decision, said Josh Fox, writer and director, “Gasland
“This is a huge win for human health, and for all of us who’ve been working incredibly hard, nonstop, to protect animal and human health from fracking poisons. Tens of thousands of people have raised their voices in a great shout, that we must not devastate our land, poison our water and hurt our people for short-term profits. We are proud to be among this great ocean of voices, thrilled that our elected officials are listening, and urge them to make this fracking moratorium last for at least a generation,” commented Iris Marie Bloom, Director, Protecting Our Waters.
“This is great news! This is a real victory for clean water. The vote being delayed is a vote against fracking. We believe every delay keeps the moratorium in place until we can get a permanent  ban,” said  Jeff Tittel, Director, New Jersey Sierra Club. “Governor Christie should follow the governor of Delaware lead and vote no on the DRBC rules. Christie needs to protect the drinking water for 3 million New Jersey residents and keep the moratorium in plac
“If it wasn’t for all of us and our colleagues – regionally and in the drilling fields, there would by now be drilling and fracking and air pollution and water contamination and landscape desecration and industrialization in the DRB. The wonderful, overwhelming and powerful display of solidarity to protect our homes, property and environment from the thieves in power – the corporations and those they buy and own. We must continue to apply all the pressure we can from every perspective on every public official and force them to switch their priorities. 28 – 1/2 days of fuel is not worth ruining the basin for 20 million people for generations.  We hereby put President Obama on notice that he will be held accountable, because he has breached his promise to those who elected him to protect our most valuable environmental resources”, said Joe Levine, NYH2O.
“This is the second time that the DRBC has waffled on moving forward to dill the river basin it is charged with protecting.  Clearly, some of the members there are waking up to the huge public outcry and increasing awareness thathydraulic fracturing is not a tenable solution for energy production in this region and for the country as a whole,” said David Braun, president and cofounder United for action.
The overwhelming public response against gas drilling in the Delaware River watershed has finally been heard. Gov. Christie needs to vote to protect our drinking water, regardless of when the vote is held. These gas drilling regulations are a disaster for the Delaware, and New Jersey residents don’t want to let gas drillers into the Delaware watershed,” said Doug O’Malley, Environment New Jersey.
“Damascus Citizens for Sustainability has been educating the public, petitioning and testifying at the DRBC since early 2008 about this intrinsically contaminating shale gas drilling.  That the decision was not made today to move ahead with a disastrous plan is good.  We will see what the next steps are and keep pushing to maintain the moratorium and seek a Cumulative Impact analysis – it is the only prudent step possible”, said Barbara Arrindell, Director, Damascus Citizens for Sustainability.
“The people of the Delaware River Watershed spoke and the voting members of the DRBC heard them.  Delaware’s Governor Markell has joined New York in voting for clean water, the protection of the environment and public health.  We will not give up until we are assured that our Watershed will not be drilled,” said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
“Today’s postponement and Delaware’s announcement shows we are making an impact on the DRBC and that our voices are being heard. Riverkeeper will continue to work to ensure that these regulations are withdrawn and that the commission conducts a full review of all environmental, public health and safety risks posed by gas development in the basin,” said Kate Hudson, Watershed Director, Hudson Riverkeeper.
“Markell should be applauded for responding to the will of the people. It’s a great victory for those who live in the basin, and a crushing blow to the industry that is furiously trying to sell fracking as safe when the facts show that is should be banned,” says Jim Walsh, Eastern Region Director of Food & Water Watch.  “We hope that President Obama and Governors across the country learn from his leadership and put the brakes on fracking too!”
“The overwhelming public response against gas drilling in the Delaware River watershed has finally been heard. Gov. Christie needs to vote to protect our drinking water, regardless of when the vote is held. These gas drilling regulations are a disaster for the Delaware, and New Jersey residents don’t want to let gas drillers into the Delaware watershed,” said Doug O’Malley, Environment New Jersey.
“Kudos to Governor Markell! He is not only protecting Delaware citizens but also Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, and New Jerseyites and setting the standard for the rest of the country,” said Dave Pringle, NJ Environmental Federation.

For more information, contact:     
Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper 215-369-1188×102; Tracy Carluccio Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network 215-369-1188×104; Wes Gillingham, Program Director, Catskill Mountainkeeper 845-901-1029; Jeff Tittel, Director, New Jersey Sierra Club 609-558-9100; Tina Posterli for Hudson Riverkeeper 516-526-9371; Doug O’Malley for Environment New Jersey 917-449-6812; Barbara Arrindell, Director, Damascus Citizens for Sustainability 570-729-8687; Karen Feridun for Berks Gas Truth, 610-678-7726; Jim Walsh, Eastern Region Director, Food & Water Watch 732-979-6883; Dave Pringle, NJ Environmental Federation 732-996-4288; Joe Levine, NYH2O, (212) 219-1038 x1; Jim Walsh, Eastern Region Director, Food & Water Watch 732.979.6883: David Braun, United for Action, 917-514-0700; Nathan Sooy, PA Clean Water Action, nsooy@cleanwater.org

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