Monday, November 21, 2011

Fracking opponents plan big protest in Trenton today

Trenton War Memorial
A number of organizations are calling for a large demonstration this morning in Trenton, NJ in opposition to hydraulic fracturing or fracking regulations proposed by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC).

The activists plan to march on the State House following a rally at 11 a.m. outside Trenton's War Memorial. That is where the Delaware River Basin Commission had been set to vote on regulations today before the commission abruptly postponed the meeting on Friday after
Delaware's governor said he would oppose the draft rules.

New York previously announced its opposition to the regulations which need three votes to pass. New Jersey and Pennsylvania were likely yes votes. It was uncertain how the fifth member of the commission, the Army Corps of Engineers, was planning to vote.

Either way, there was a likelihood of a 3-2 vote, a glaring lack of consensus on a prominent issue that was potentially going to split on party lines, said Maya van Rossum, head of the nonprofit Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

"The intelligence that we're gathering is that when Delaware announced that it was not going to support the regulations, essentially the feds and New Jersey got cold feet," van Rossum said.

Larry Ragonese, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, said that the agency viewed the proposed regulations as strongly protective of the environment, but that there was no rush if changes were needed.

"If other states still have questions that they feel need to be addressed, we would obviously want them to have an opportunity to make sure they can resolve those issues," Ragonese said. "The goal is to get it done correctly."

Gov. Corbett, on the other hand, voiced impatience. "Pennsylvania is ready to move forward now," he said in a news release, charging that the delay was "driven more by politics than sound science."

In a statement, the president of the industry's Marcellus Shale Coalition, Kathryn Klaber, also urged action, arguing that drilling has lead to more jobs and access to cleaner-burning fuel.

"The vocal minority calling for less energy development are simply ignoring the American people's basic needs," Klaber said.

Environmental activists say pollution from fracking would threaten drinking water supplies for 15 million users.

Last week, they claim to have delivered more than 71,000 letters to the Commission members. Opponents say today's rally is an opportunity to keep up pressure against fracking.

Expected speakers at today's rally include Josh Fox (Gasland writer and producer), Mark Ruffalo (actor, director and founder of, Deborah Winger (actress), Maya van Rossum (Delaware Riverkeeper), Jim Walsh (Food and Water Watch), and Jeff Tittel (Sierra Club NJ.) 

DRBC delays controversial vote on fracking rules

Decision delayed on drilling in Delaware River basin
Maryland Weighs Fracking's Potential Impact
State Rep. Gary Day explains why he voted for Marcellus Impact fee
Congressman rails against more fracking regulations

Bob Hanna to replace Lee Solomon at the NJBPU


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