Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fracking foes celebrate a win but cannot declare victory

Anti-fracking opponents rally in Trenton, (Julio Cortez/AP photo)

On the steps of Trenton's War Memorial yesterday hundreds of environmentalists took time to celebrate a battle win in a campaign that they know is far from over.

At a rally followed by a march to the State House, they were urged to keep up the political pressure that had forced the Delaware River Basin Commission to postpone a vote on regulations that would have allowed the start of natural gas well drilling in northeast Pennsylvania.

Those wells would employ the controversial technique called hydrofracturing (fracking) that pumps a mixture of water, sand and toxic chemicals, under high pressure, into underground shale rock deposits to release trapped natural gas.

The natural gas industry supports the regulations, arguing out that further delay will penalize local governments that could benefit from the economic development that gas exploration promises.

A coalition of regional environmental organizations is leading the opposition, claiming that fracking poses an unacceptable pollution risk to the Delaware River basin's water supply that serves 15 million users.

The vote, originally scheduled for yesterday in Trenton, was postponed abruptly on Friday when Delaware's Governor, Jack Markell, a Democrat, made it know that he would be voting no. He would have joined New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo, also a Democrat, in voting no.

Pennsylvania's Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, a virtual cheerleader for the gas-drilling industry that contributed more than a million dollars to his election campaign, was more than ready to vote yes. His GOP colleague, NJ Gov. Chris Christie, was expected to do the same.

The deadlock gives the tie-breaking vote to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' representative on the Commission, a distinction that the Obama Administration likely would have preferred not to make.

If the federal government votes against the rules, Obama's presidential rivals will claim he's turning his back domestic energy, jobs, and an opportunity to stimulate the Keystone State's slumping economy.  A yes vote will further alienate progressives who already find the President's environmental efforts to be uninspiring.

More coverage in today's EnviroPolitics. Try it free, for 30 days with no-obligation


Like this post? You'll love our daily newsletter, 

Try it free for 30 days!
  No obligation. Cancel anytime with one click

Subscribe here to view all our YouTube videos

Repost this article