December 9th, 2015, 9:15 am. In just a few minutes I will be leaving home to testify at the Delaware River Basin Commission’s (DRBC) business meeting. These five people representing New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and the US Government grant permits for projects that impinge on the watershed or the Delaware River itself. So they decide about pipelines, drilling of wells, and industrial processes on the river banks. They have a moratorium in place on shale gas extraction permits in the basin. But they are considering allowing pipelines to cross the watershed and the river. Here is what I plan to say:
I am Richmond Shreve, of Newtown, PA. I’m a grandfather concerned for his grandchildren’s future and I’m here to speak for them. I want to be sure that each of you is mindful of the effect of your decisions on their future not just in terms of stewardship of the Delaware River, but in terms of global environment.
Only half of the 9,000 shale gas wells already drilled in Pennsylvania are in production. Yet the glut of domestic gas has driven the price per million BTU as low as $2 and forecasters don’t see it going above $3.40 until 2020 or later. And 16,000 more drilling permits are already approved.
These numbers tell us the market is already in oversupply with more is coming on line. We are moving from an energy boom to an energy bust.
Sure, Japan and other countries may pay a premium price to buy and burn some of the excess. But you and I know that atmospheric carbon is changing the climate. The world’s present known reserve of fossil fuels represents five times what it will take to exceed the 2 degrees centigrade tipping point and trigger a century of catastrophic global warming.
We must not burn all that carbon fuel. If we do, our grandchildren’s prospects look grim. So when you are asked to permit more pipelines, or to allow more fracking, or to accept toxic waste facilities I beg you to be mindful of all the consequences. You are like the legendary Casey Jones at the throttle of a colossal engine racing toward a train wreck.
Don’t leave your grandchildren to say, “They didn’t see it coming. They couldn’t stop it.”
Public comments like mine are allowed only two minutes, sometimes less. So I will have to read fast. I’m hoping my words will speak to their hearts and stiffen their resistance to the enormous pressure to get gas out of the ground and sell it to the highest bidder. If you share my hope, print this post and attach it to a handwritten note to your legislative representatives both state and federal. Perhaps what can’t be acknowledged for political reasons will be acknowledged for personal ones.