A huge environmental victory in the making

Two years ago the Delaware River Basin Commission draft regulations banned fracking, but left the watershed vulnerable to the storage, treatment, disposal, and discharge of fracking wastewater. It also did not ban the withdrawal of basin water for fracking elsewhere. 

In yesterday’s letter to the DRBC Governor Murphy specifically requested that it amend the draft regulations to ”ban the import, treatment, and discharge of fracking wastewater in the Basin.” Governor Murphy noted that several recent studies have reported multiple instances of damage to water resources associated with all stages of natural-gas development. 

After some eight years of campaigning this would be a huge victory for environmentalists and residents in the area. The Delaware River Basin extends from the Catskills in New York to parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. It is a vital water source for about 5 percent of the nation’s population. (See map below)

The National Resources Defense Council states, “By supporting a full ban in the Delaware River Basin, Governor Murphy is demonstrating critical leadership at a time when the Trump administration is doing everything in its power to expand fossil fuel extraction. Governor Murphy is also showing what states can do to protect our environment and communities in the face of a hostile federal government.”

For this to happen, NJ Spotlight points out that Murphy, the chair of the DRBC, needs to convince at least two of the three other governors on the commission to back his full ban, a prospect fracking critics are optimistic will happen. The other governors who sit on the DRBC are New York Governor Cuomo, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, and Delaware Governor John Carney.  These governors received a copy of the letter and are reviewing it. 

Matt Smith, a senior organizer for Food & Water Watch, predicted, “A full ban is within reach. We don’t want fracking in the Delaware River basin, we don’t want fracking companies taking water for drilling, and we don’t want toxic fracking waste dumped here.’’ Maya van Rossum, said “I think there is plenty of room for all three Governors to come around and do the right thing.’’

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