Fracked Gas Pipelines -- A Danger Needing Review
The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) is obligated to review and approve any pipeline projects that pass through the boundaries of the Delaware River Watershed. But, to date, it has chosen not to exercise that jurisdiction. DRBC has received a formal Petition to secure the exercise of their jurisdiction. We need your letter today to urge the DRBC to respond favorably to this formal Petition and to exercise their jurisdiction.
Pipelines are a serious and significant source of damage for our rivers, streams, wetlands, forests and communities. Pipelines clear, cross, cut and/or otherwise damage what ever is in their path. Exceptional value streams, productive wetlands, mature forests, and peaceful communities have all suffered when they lie in the path of a pipeline. Pipelines also require loud and polluting compressor stations that add insult to injury for the communities where they are placed. The proliferation of pipelines is in order to serve the proliferation of drilling and fracking pressing forth across our states and region. Even communities where fracking and drilling is prohibited or not yet happening, find themselves the unwilling targets of the pipeline companies. The DRBC could provide a critical and irreplaceable level of review and protection if they would exercise their authority.
At least a dozen pipelines or pipeline expansions are being proposed for the Delaware River Watershed. Pipelines that are known to be considered for construction will cross counties throughout the Basin including Chester County, Pike County, and Monroe County, PA; Sussex County, NJ; Delaware County and Broome County, NY; a number of counties leading up to and into Philadelphia yet to be specifically identified. Additional communities will be targeted with additional proposals anticipated.
- Delaware River Basin Commission
Shale gas pipelines being proposed to pass within and/or through the boundaries of the Delaware River Basin will have a “substantial effect on the water resources of the basin” (DRBC Compact Section 3.8) these projects must be subject to the review and approval of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) prior to their construction. The DRBC Rules of Practice and Procedure support the exercise of this jurisdiction, as articulated in the Petition submitted to the DRBC by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network at its September 12, 2012 public meeting.
There are at least 12 major pipelines where either the preferred option and/or alternative options for the path of construction of the pipeline would cross within the boundaries of the Delaware River Basin and therefore must be subject to DRBC review. The level of land disturbance, and the invasiveness of the River, tributary and wetland crossings associated with these pipelines are significant and will have an impact on the water resources of the Delaware River Basin.
Therefore, I request that the DRBC:
➢ Immediately exercise its existing jurisdiction with regards to the construction, installation and ongoing maintenance (including maintenance of permanent rights of way) of pipelines passing within and/or through the Delaware River Basin;
➢ Conduct its reviews of needed water withdrawals, as well as pipeline construction, installation and maintenance at the same time because they are intimately and irretrievably connected; and
➢ Update its Rules of Practice and Procedure to make absolutely clear that all pipelines passing within or through any portion of the Basin must be subject to DRBC review.
The Delaware River is an irreplaceable source of drinking water for an estimated 17 million people. The Delaware River, its tributaries and watershed ecosystems support a multi-billion dollar ecotourism industry. The Delaware River and its watershed communities and resources provide educational, recreational, and health benefits to people from throughout the region and nation. The ground cover disturbance, excavation and installation associated with pipelines and their associated infrastructure (such as the multiple compressor stations required) has ramifications for all of these vital and irreplaceable uses of the Delaware River, its tributaries and watershed. And some of the pipeline projects proposed may include alternatives that involve crossing Comprehensive Plan recreation areas like the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and the tributaries that feed these Recreation Areas, an irreplaceable gem in the fabric and health of the Delaware River and the region.
The pipeline projects being proposed for within this Basin will adversely affect the communities, River, streams, ecosystems, and natural resources of the Delaware River Basin. It is essential that the DRBC provide a watershed-based level of analysis and oversight.
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