DRBC faces serious funding shortfall
Collier pointed out that the lower basin might see up to a meter sea level rise over the century, which could allow the salt line to rise. “If that’s so, do we need more water at Trenton to keep that down and if we do, where is that water going to come from?” asked Collier. “We’re working with the Army Corps of Engineers to connect our water flow model to their salinity models so we can do some scenario tests.”
Regarding DRBC’s proposed regulations for natural gas development, Collier reported that although DRBC commissioners have been participating in bi-weekly phone calls, the chair of the Army Corps of Engineers is calling for a face-to-face meeting.
DRBC is also responding to a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) lawsuit from New York State, which could have significant repercussions according to Collier. “The Attorney General first sued our federal member and some other federal agencies, then sued DRBC. It’s the first time that one of our states has sued DRBC, saying that we are a federal agency and therefore should be doing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for natural gas drilling.”
The DRBC maintains it is not a federal agency because its purpose is to bring the states and federal government together on equal planes. “If we are required to do NEPA, it really affects states’ rights,” explained Collier. “When they signed up for the commission, they didn’t really think they were signing up for the federal requirements. And it would be required for everything else we do.”
The next DRBC commissioners meeting is scheduled for May 10. Visit www.state.nj.us/drbc for more information.