For Immediate Release

November 26, 2012

 

Contacts:

Maya K. van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, 215-369-1188 ext. 102 (office & cell)

Jeff Tittel, Executive Director, NJ Sierra Club, 609-558-9100

Lynda Farrell, Executive Director, Pipeline Safety Coalition, 484 340 0648

Doug O’Malley, interim director with Environment New Jersey, 917-449-6812

Chris Robinson, Green Party of Philadelphia, 215-843-4256, gpop@gpop.org

Julia Somers, Executive Director, NJ Highlands Coalition, 973-588-7190 (office)

 

52 Organizations Demand Delaware River Basin Commission

Review of Pipeline Projects

 

West Trenton, NJ:  Fifty-two organizations have signed the Petition to the Delaware River Basin Commission asserting the agency has an obligation to exercise its jurisdiction over the proliferation of pipelines being constructed and proposed within the boundaries of the Delaware River watershed.  According to the Petition, pipelines are a significant source of waterway degradation and, according to DRBC’s Rules of Practice and Procedure as well as the Delaware River Basin Compact itself, should be subject to DRBC jurisdiction, docketing, and oversight.  The Petition was submitted at the DRBC’s last Commission meeting on September 12th by Delaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum.

“Before the first Marcellus Shale well was drilled in 2004, a web of 60,418 miles of gas and oil pipelines crisscrossed Pennsylvania’s landscape.  An estimated 25,000 additional miles of Marcellus gas pipelines by the year 2030 will raise Pennsylvania’s large diameter pipeline miles to roughly 85,000.  Marcellus infrastructure alone will impact 80 percent of native brook trout streams and undetermined miles of Pennsylvania watersheds.  These projections do not factor in the impacts of the Utica shale development.  We know that Pennsylvania natural gas resources will largely be sold in lucrative overseas markets, and we know the Delaware River Basin lies between Industry supply and Industry profit.  We have learned that state and federal permits are often based on Industry ‘preferred’ construction methods and paths.  Expedience and the least expensive corporate path to ports of export can no longer be acceptable considerations in the permitting process.  DRBC has the power, authority and obligation to intercede, and we expect them to use it,” said Lynda K. Farrell Executive Director of the Pipeline Safety Coalition.

“Gas pipelines can cause dramatic environmental degradation within the Delaware watershed, and should be subject to stringent review and regulation by the DRBC.  As the Northeast is looking at an expanded network of pipelines for bringing fracked gas to both local consumers and overseas markets, the DRBC must not abdicate its responsibility for oversight of these activities and how they would affect the Delaware River Basin.  DRBC should honor its mandate of protecting the watershed by instituting an effective program of shale gas pipeline review,” said Edie Kantrowitz with United for Action.

“The DRBC has not done their job when it comes to protecting the basin from impacts of pipelines.  They have the chance to fix their mistakes by accepting this petition and taking jurisdiction over these projects.  The DRBC needs to step in and protect the Basin from the destruction of these pipelines and their impacts on the water quality and supply.  These pipelines cut through streams, rivers, wetlands and environmentally sensitive areas.  They disturb steep slopes and forests, causing erosion, flooding and water pollution.  These pipelines need to have proper regulation and oversight.  The only way that can happen is by the DRBC taking control and looking at the impacts holistically,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. 

“What they are doing is unbelievable, so when you tell people about it, they don't believe you,” says Frank Finan with ShaleTest.org.

“As busy parents working in and outside our homes, we strive to ensure clean air, clean water and healthy food for our children.  We rely and depend on government entities like the DRBC to help us make certain that these issues and how they affect the health and safety of our children are on the minds and included in the policies of decision makers.  As guardians of a water resource for millions of people in the Northeast, it is DRBC’s responsibility and legacy to ensure that the integrity of the Delaware River Basin watershed is protected for our and for future generations.  DRBC’s responsibilities most certainly do not include EXEMPTING pipelines from their jurisdiction,” said Harriet Shugarman, Executive Director, ClimateMama.

“The construction of natural gas pipelines has the potential to result in serious impacts to water resources within the Delaware River Basin.  The DRBC should use its existing authority, or establish new authority, to ensure that all proposals to construct pipelines within the Basin are subjected to strict review to assure that no new pipelines will be constructed that might adversely affect water quality,” said Kate Sinding, Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council.

“The Green Party calls on the Delaware River Basin Commission to monitor gas pipelines within the Delaware River Watershed because of the dangers these pipelines present.  Greens call upon the DRBC to examine the September 9, 2010, explosion of the Pacific Gas and Electric pipeline in Crestmoor, CA.  This explosion was attributed to the poor quality control of the pipe used and the poor quality of the construction. Greens do not want so see a similar accident in the Delaware River Watershed,” said Chris Robinson, Green Party of Philadelphia.

Said Doug O’Malley, interim director with Environment New Jersey, “The fracking boom is coming home to the Delaware River Basin, and gas pipelines are giant scars on our watershed.  It should be obvious to all – and especially the Commission – that it can’t take a pass on gas pipelines.”

Stated Julia Somers, Executive Director of the NJ Highlands Coalition, “More than one third of the NJ Highlands are within the Delaware River Basin. The Highlands' forests, which are the sources of clean drinking water to almost two-thirds of New Jersey's population, are being torn into ribbons by linear development projects such as gas pipelines and electrical transmission lines. The DRBC must evaluate the impacts of these projects on our water resources and take appropriate action.”

 “Pipelines are a growing source of pollution and damage to our communities, using their power of eminent domain to scar and do permanent damage to the lands, waters, and private properties that fall in their path.  Pipelines require a vigilant regulatory review and approval process done on a watershed scale,” says Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper.   “The DRBC has an obligation to conduct this vigilant review.  Rather than fulfill their public protection responsibilities, they are choosing to abandon the public and side with the drillers and pipeline companies.  Our organizations have joined forces and voices to urge the DRBC to take a different path, to exercise their existing jurisdiction and obligation to review any and all pipelines that may pass through the Delaware River Watershed to ensure need and no harm.”

The next meeting of the DRBC Commissioners is December 5th.  There is a hope and expectation the issue of pipelines will be addressed in some way at the meeting.  For more information on the meeting go to the Delaware Riverkeeper Network calendar page: http://www.delawareriverkeeper.org/about/event.aspx?Id=303.

According to the Petition, DRBC is obligated to exercise its jurisdiction and require DRBC approval for any and all pipelines passing through the watershed.  The Delaware River Basin Compact, which provides for the mission and mandates of the DRBC, obligates the DRBC to review all projects with substantial effects on the water resources of the Basin for consistency with their Comprehensive Plan.  “The level of land disturbance and the invasiveness of the tributary and wetland crossings associated with these pipelines are significant and would most certainly have an impact on the water resources of the Delaware River Basin.  There are no limitations or exceptions within the DRBC Compact or its Rules of Practice or Procedure that would exempt pipelines from DRBC jurisdiction,” says Jane Davenport, Senior Attorney for the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

Furthermore, according to the Petition, pipelines proposed, as well as in general, individually and cumulatively:

·         will include “significant disturbance of ground cover affecting water resources;”

·         have already been referred to the DRBC by the National Park Service for action under the Rules of Practice and Procedure;

·         will affect reaches of the Delaware River designated as Special Protection Waters, which, according to DRBC regulations, cannot be degraded; and

could “pass in, on, under, or across … recreation project areas as designated in the Comprehensive Plan” of the DRBC, such as the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation