Yesterday, we were the Water Protectors, driving from Philly to Washington Crossing State Park to a public hearing of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), per invitation from the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

Promoted as a low-key event, scheduled for a mid-week mid-afternoon, we didn’t expect much. Until we got there! Just in the walk from the parking lot to the building we met allies who had traveled much longer than us, from upstate New Jersey, New York, and Delaware. One friend, having studied at nearby George School in Bucks County, flew in from Seattle!

16707588_1410542045663532_7596616826341368468_oOur treatment, once inside, was disappointing. Entering the auditorium of the Visitor Center was like going thru airport security, emptying our pockets and submitting to body scans. The meeting began with the DRBC Executive Director Steve Tambini’s authoritarian listing of the rules of conduct.

Despite the welcoming remarks, we noted that the room was filled to capacity, with over 30 people waiting outside.  My guess is over 300 people showed up, which is quite impressive in itself.

Speakers were given 3 minutes each, and ranged from a Green Party member, a student, a retiree, a board member of PA Interfaith Power & Light, several citizens, staff members of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Clean Water Action NJ,  Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, the Sierra Club and many others.

Why all the interest in applications for water discharge and withdrawal?

Since 2010, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) has prohibited permitting for natural gas extraction projects in the Delaware River Basin while they studied its potential impacts on water resources, a de-facto moratorium that has not allowed permits to be issued until natural gas regulations are adopted. Since 2010, the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence and on-the-ground experience where fracking has wreaked havoc prove that fracking simply isn’t safe. See a video explanation here. We sensed that the DRBC may be taking steps to lift the current moratorium on fracking, despite our prescient ruling in 2010.

Yesterday, our sense was justified upon seeing item 16 (of the 17 project applications) discussed, which was for a pipeline and natural gas facility construction by the Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company.

All of us, from 4 different states, unanimously, spoke of the many reasons for a complete and permanent ban on fracking in the Delaware River Watershed. Many of us read aloud a letter from the Delaware River herself, who provides drinking water to about 16 million people.

If you missed attending this hearing, it’s not too late to send in written comments as to why fracking must be banned forever in the Delaware River Watershed. You have until 5pm on Tue Feb 21, 2017 to do so. Here are the many ways to get your comments to the DRBC…

Please refer to “Water Resources Plan has no room for fracking”