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Governors Must Ban Fracking in Delaware Valley

Trenton, NJ: Sierra release – We are gathering in Trenton today to send a message to the Governor, and the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), to ban fracking permanently in the Delaware Valley. The Sierra Club is joining with the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Environment New Jersey, Clean Water Action, Food and Water Watch, and Bucks County  Environmental Action to hold a press conference followed by a march to deliver tens of thousands of petitions. Recently, signals from the DRBC staff have raised alarm bells that the Commission may be taking steps to adopt regulations and lift the current moratorium. We must keep public opposition strong against fracking and urge voting members – the Governors of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, representing the Basin states, and the Army Corps of Engineers, representing the federal government to make the ban permanent.

“We’re calling on the Governors and the DRBC Commissioners, especially Governor Christie, to enact a permanent ban against dangerous fracking in the Delaware River Basin. We’re marching in Trenton to bring 64,000 petitions to Governor Christie. We need our Governors and DRBC Commissioners to stand up and protect our Valley because this environmentally sensitive area supplies clean drinking water for more than 17 million people. The region is being threatened by fossil fuels through fracking and pipelines and we must stand against these projects. That is why we are demanding the DRBC put a permanent ban on fracking in the Delaware River Basin,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This becomes even more critical with President Trump being pro-fracking and Congress passing bills to make it easier to build pipelines. Christie must join with Governors Wolf, Cuomo and Carney to commit to keeping the fracking ban for this region.”

Fracking in the Delaware River Basin would destroy tens of thousands of forests, open space, and wildlife habitat. At the same time it will pollute our waterways and threaten the drinking water for 17 million people. In 2010 the DRBC prohibited permitting for natural gas extraction projects in the Delaware River Basin while they study its potential impacts on water resources, a de-facto moratorium that does not allow 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.

“Given the change in Administrations at the federal level, it is more important than ever that we protect our resources. With Donald Trump as President, all of the recent environmental progress could be rolled back. Without a permanent fracking ban, residents in the Delaware River Basin could be faced with well pads, compressor stations, drilling rigs, and countless miles of pipeline construction. That is why we are urging the Commission to defend the Delaware and uphold these important anti-fracking protections by making the ban permanent,” said Jeff Tittel. “The Trump Administration is threatening our Valley by opening up public lands for drilling. This could include the Delaware Water Gap and that’s why we need the moratorium in place.”

The process of fracking involves injecting huge amounts of water and chemicals in rock formations that can pollute surrounding aquifers and waterways. This requires mixing millions of gallons of water with toxic chemicals including volatile organic chemicals like benzene, methyl benzene, formaldehyde, and others that are linked to cancer. The process also releases toxic chemicals like arsenic and mercury that are naturally trapped in the shale. The average well uses 2.5 to 4.5 million gallons of water for fracking, many wells are fracked two to three times. Drilling will also require trillions of gallons of water.

“The Delaware River is an environmental treasure on the East Coast that supplies the clean drinking water for more than 17 million people. The River even received designation for Wild and Scenic and is classified as Special Protection Waters (SPW) due to exceptionally high water quality and outstanding natural resources with special regulations that protect those resources and maintain the River’s exceptional water quality.  The entire drainage area that flows to the nontidal Delaware River, which extends from Hancock NY to Trenton NJ, is designated as SPW, and is the longest stretch of anti-degradation waters in the nation.  The citizens of New Jersey want a ban on fracking in the Delaware River Basin!,” said Tittel.

Truck transport of process water and waste fluids will carve through our natural areas.  This will fragment the forest inviting in invasive species and altering the ecosystem.  In addition, truck transport will result in runoff and pollution of the areas surrounding the roadways. Development of roads to support construction vehicles is a secondary impact of drilling projects.   Each well will destroy 17 acres of forest and need a half mile of roadway. At one time there were proposals for more than 50,000 wells in the Delaware River Basin. This could mean the removal of 750,000 acres of woodlands and 25,000 miles of road.

“We shouldn’t have to wait for the next Governor; Christie should do his job and protect the River! The people of the Delaware River Valley want to protect the treasures of the basin and support a permanent end to fracking in the region. In the past decades, we have stood together to protect the Delaware River from inappropriate development, dirty power plants, and pump stations. Our advocacy helped pass environmental laws that are now at risk such as the Federal Clean Water Act as well as Special Water Resource Protection Areas. We have also worked to clean-up the River and save open spaces along the River. The Governor must act and protect our Valley,” Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We are also demanding the Commission do their job to defend the Delaware and uphold all of these protections. We are here to tell DRBC, ‘Don’t Ruin the Basin, Commissioners!’ Don’t frack the Delaware! Fracking needs to get the FERC out of our Valley!