Pennsylvania Senators Arlen Specter and Bob Casey have ripped the bandage off an old, bistate wound with a request for some $4 million for the deepening of the 103-mile main shipping channel between the Philadelphia Harbor and the mouth of the Delaware Bay.
Environmentalists in New Jersey and Delaware are furious to learn that Pennsylvania is trying to breathe new life into a project they thought had been put on a back burner if not killed.
The enviros claim the project threatens aquatic life, drinking water and wetlands.
Specter's press secretary said the project is necessary to help the Delaware Valley region compete with other deep-water ports.
The proposed project caused a rift between New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, both Democrats, early in Corzine's administration. Corzine then opposed the project and the dispute grew so hot that, for a time, he held up funding to the bistate Delaware River Port Authority.
After months of wrangling, Corzine backed off after Rendell promised that all dredge spoils from the project would be disposed of in the Keystone State.
On June 23, 2008, Rendell today signed an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority to officially begin the five-year, $379 million dredging project.
But environmentalists have continued their opposition, noting that the project still requires environmental approvals from the state of Delaware and hoping that it ultimately would prove too expensive to fund.
For more, see the Courier-Post's Pa. lawmakers earmark funds for deeper Delaware
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