Shutting out Public from Gas Drilling Decisions, press release from environmental groups
November 9, 2011 —
Organizations from throughout the Delaware River Watershed cried “foul” today because the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) issued what it termed as “modified” natural gas development regulations on November 8, 2011 without any opportunity for public comment, input, or testimony concerning the changes to the draft regulations (www.drbc.net). DRBC released a draft of its proposed rules in December 2010 with a public comment period that closed April 15, 2011. A record number of comments were received by the agency on the draft - 69,800 comments - breaking all records for public involvement.
Since then they have been reviewing the comments and announced last month that they would be voting on the draft regulations 10:00am -12:00pm on November 21, 2011 at a special meeting at the War Memorial in Trenton, NJ and that there would be no public hearing and no opportunity for public input into the new version of the regulations. A vote to approve gas regulations would lift the current moratorium on gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin.
“DRBC is slamming the door in the public’s face and it’s simply unacceptable. It’s a gross violation of the public trust not to hear what people have to say about these changed regulations; the deep and unprecedented interest that people have shown to gas drilling is undeniable and our Watershed’s health and future is at stake”, said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper.
"The Upper Delaware River is a nationally recognized ecological treasure and because of its pristine nature is able to provide clean drinking water for millions of people. Now we have the DRBC proposing how to trash it!" said Wes Gillingham Program Director for Catskill Mountainkeeper. "They are shutting out the people who's quality of health depends on this river, through a politicized process that is driven the oil and gas industry. It is outrageous."
"They are using this process to weaken the regulations and make them even worse. What they are doing is unconscionable. This is an abuse of power that blocks the right of the public to have a say in a matter that will directly affect their lives," said Jeff Tittel, Director, New Jersey Sierra Club.