Delaware River Basin Commission Drops The Ball, Again

Environmental Organizations Disrupt DRBC Meeting,

Demand A Resolution On Pipeline Oversight

Despite the wildly banging gavel, The Delaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum would not be silenced at the March 6 Delaware River Basin Commission public hearing – not until she had given full voice to the resolution proposed by numerous environmental groups in the basin. Only then did she yield the floor, and it was to the incredible harmony of the 70 or so activists in attendance singing This Land Is Your Land.

Try as DRBC might, even with a formal acknowledgement of  the March 1 letter signed by 67 organizations and a petition signed by thousands of citizens, the Commission can no longer fallback on its routine deferral of pipeline oversight. While the DRBC would continue to kick the can down the road, chainsaws are whirring, and trees are already being felled by the thousands as forests are fragmented for new pipeline routes. This is no longer acceptable to watershed stakeholders, nor was it palatable to the majority of people in that meeting room.

van Rossum delivered their message with succinct, breathtaking force:

“A failure to act is a decision not to act.”

Thank you, protestors. Thank you, Delaware Riverkeeper, for standing up for our right to a clean, safe watershed.

Somebody has to do something to protect these waters,” Joe Zenes, Pike County PA resident. Posted by Delaware Riverkeeper Network, March 7, 2013

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network and concerned citizens from four states vented their anger at the Delaware River Basin Commission when the agency refused to take action to regulate shale gas pipelines in the watershed. The protestors shutdown the meeting at one point.”  

Pointing Fingers, Literally

Sir, you’re failing us, and you’ve failed us miserably,” said former US Army Sargent and New Jersey resident Kenneth Collins indicating the DRBC Army Corps of Engineers federal representative, Lt. Colonial John Becking, with a single, forceful digit.

The Resolution Solution

Seems reasonable to ask the commission charged with protecting our water resources to protect our watershed from explosive, corrosive, polluting gas pipelines, yes? Environmental groups are asking for a simple resolution, and that is for the DRBC to exercise authority it already has.

We propose a resolution for you to vote on, for the DRBC to exercise its full jurisdiction under the compact, and the rules of practices and procedure over any and all gas pipelines that cross any portion of the Delaware River Watershed,” said van Rossum

Sandy Bauers, Inquirer GreenSpace columnist, covered the meeting live in her piece, Protesters Demand To Be Heard at DRBC Meeting and in greater detail in a follow-up article, Protesters Disrupt DRBC Meeting Over Gas PipelinesBauers reports on three newly introduced bi-partisan, common sense bills designed to deal with the explosive gas pipeline issue:

“In a related action, State Sen. Andrew Dinniman (D., Chester) last month introduced three pipeline-oversight bills. They would require the Department of Environmental Protection to ensure that residents were notified of proposed projects and to post public documents on its website. The bills, supported by three area Republican senators – John Rafferty Jr., Ted Erickson, and Charles McIlhinney – also would require pipeline operators to replace affected land under agriculture or conservation easements.

For a video of the full March 6, 2013 DRBC hearing posted by, click here.

Video by Leigha Cohen.

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.

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