What’s gerrymandering got to do with Fracking? Everything. They, the legislators, don’t listen to you when you protest fracking because they don’t have to. The are safe and secure regardless of how you vote. Here is Jim Greenwood explaining why…
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Read the article in the Courier Times today. You’ll not only get a great overview of what’s afoot here. You will gain an important lesson in the down and dirty world of money and influence in government. Ostensibly, it’s about a ban on fracking in the Delaware Basin. but the DRBC decision was to propose rule-making, not ban fracking.
Between now and November, DRBC staff will be drafting language for regulations to govern not just drilling operations, but also the taking of water from the river to be used in fracking and also the disposal of the contaminated waste water. Our watchdog groups like the Delaware Riverkeeper Network smell a rat. The general public has no opportunity for influence until the proposed regulations are written. But the politicians and lobbyists will be hard at it, working to influence the phrasing and content of those rules. We’d like to think that common sense and science would prevail. But that is rarely the case. it will be very difficult for We the People to be heard in this process.
Stay tuned. If you snooze, we lose.
The Delaware River Basin Commission is a regulatory panel that decides what may be removed from or discharged to our Delaware River watershed. Members represent the United States (Corps of Engineers), New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Each entity has a seat at the table and a vote. But the individuals, the people who sit in those powerful chairs do not vote based on their personal conviction or discernment. The speak and vote for each of the Governors, and the President of the US.
Sure, most of the routine permitting of water companies and waste treatment operations is left to the staff these board members oversee. But issues like fracking are highly politicized. Lobbyists and industry lawyers make it their business to influence the policy that determines how these board members decide things.
The tension was palpable when the Colonel representing the Corps of Engineers voted against the motion that directed the staff to draft rules banning and regulating fracking in the Delaware River Basin. Everyone knew that she was following her orders and had no discretion whatever. As the roll call proceeded, other panelists made it clear that they too were speaking for those in higher authority.
As a courtesy to the many concerned citizens present, the panel permitted a public comment period after the meeting adjourned. It was not on the record, and it would not be heard by the real decision makers unless those who sat on the dais were extraordinarily committed to reporting the passion the various speakers expressed. These commissioners, many of the second or third alternates for the primary commission members, were there to take the verbal punches and try to remain civil and be cordial sparing those for whom they are surrogates.
If any one of them experienced themselves as guardians of a public trust, the moral injury they personally sustain should earn them a medal. When a person is ordered to do something that violates their deeply held moral and ethical convictions, when such an order comes from one who has absolute authority over the person, and when the stakes are very high, doing that abhorrent thing tears at the soul of one’s humanity. It’s a high-risk job if you really care about doing the right thing.
There will be enormous pressure for the DBRC to create loopholes and wiggle room in the regulations so that the energy industry can drill their wells and build their pipelines. The process will happen without public scrutiny, except when leaks happen. Insiders and influence peddlers will seek to influence the phrasing and the content. Political deals may be made. And, when the proposed rules are finally published and opened for public comment, it will be damned hard to get any meaningful changes adopted. Why? Again, because the people in those chairs listening to the public are not empowered to vote using their discernment and conscience – they will be under orders decided by a political bureaucracy and given before the hearings even begin.
The Pope speaks about climate change and morality …
Penn Environment is circulating the following email. Consider taking an active role…
Big news: we just learned that in 5 days there will be a vote to help establish a ban on fracking in the Delaware River watershed for good. 1
With 289 confirmed cases of people’s drinking water wells contaminated by fracking in Pennsylvania, we can’t risk the drinking water for the 15 million people who rely on the Delaware River. 2
The frackers are already railing against news of the vote by spreading misinformation and lobbying the Governor. That’s why he needs to hear from thousands of Pennsylvanians in the next few days to make sure this passes.
Eight years ago we helped flood the governor’s office with public comments in support of the first moratorium on fracking in the Delaware River Basin. Since then, it’s become only more clear, as fracking companies in PA have violated environmental and public health protections over 4,000 times in other parts of the Commonwealth.3
And so for eight years, we’ve kept our drinking water safe.
This new policy would permanently commit environmental regulators to keep fracking away from the Delaware River, giving all of us peace of mind that our water will always be safe from fracking’s cocktail of toxic chemicals. Add your name for a ban on fracking near the Delaware now.
You can be sure the fracking industry will fight this effort over the next few days, but with your support we can protect the Delaware.
PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center
P.S. Help us build even more support for protecting the Delaware by forwarding this to your friends and family!.
1. “AP Source: Permanent Delaware River drilling ban in the works,” Associate Press, September 7, 2017.
2. “Water Supply Determination Letters,” Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, accessed September 7, 2017.
2. Alana Miller and Adam Garber, “Fracking Failures 2017: Oil and Gas Industry Environmental Violations in Pennsylvania,” PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group, Spring 2017.
Wastewater disposal wells are bad news. Such wells have caused earthquakes in Oklahoma and Texas, and now they may come to Pennsylvania. What’s even more alarming and disgusting? Our taxes are being used to make it happen! The State of Pennsylvania has issued permits for the wells and simultaneously filed lawsuits to overturn the local government’s attempt to block them. (Read Article)
If that doesn’t make your blood boil, also consider the fact that there is little benefit and much harm to Pennsylvanians. Sure, if you own stock in a gas energy company, or have one of the few jobs they create, you might have some near-term benefit. But the gas is not for domestic needs — there is already a glut. It’s for overseas markets. The governor does hope to attract plastics makers who can use natural gas as a hydrocarbon source. But that is not the motivation for any of this. The hidden agenda is to sell the gas as fast as possible before its use is banned to save the planet.
Global climate change is a major economic disruptor that looms ahead of us. Models differ on how soon each of its principal life-threatening effects will be impossible to ignore. The process seems to be accelerating. As we have been saying for years, nothing good comes of fracking.
[Thanks to Charlie Peterson for the tip.]
Here is a copy of the Jointure’s drilling ordinance. In my opinion it falls far short of what is needed. It represents a minimalist approach Continue reading
Act 13 is the infamous law that stripped local PA communities of their power to regulate pipelines and fracking. In recent time litigation seeking to recover those powers has been favorably decided by the PA Supreme Court. Although this has not fixed all the problems, it has given more options to municipalities. But not all towns have effective strategies. Get the facts and empower your local elected officials.
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Here is the latest iteration of the zoning ordinance proposed by Solicitor Clemens as what he views as the best the Jointure can do to exercise control over future attempts to site fracking drill pads in the three municipalities. The legal strategy is to avoid including provisions that the State of Pennsylvania will not allow the municipality to enforce, but to include provisions that a municipality has the right to enforce.
I am not a lawyer, but my early training as a contract administrator made me aware of the kinds of language that leaves wiggle room and sets the stage for litigation. This proposed ordinance has a lot of subjective criteria that would be difficult to enforce and is silent on most of the risks to health and the environment that fracking creates. See for yourself …