Sierra Club: Phil Murphy Opposes Fracking in the Delaware Basin: Letter to DRBC

Contact:  Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club, 609-558-9100


Phil Murphy Opposes Fracking in the Delaware Basin: Letter to DRBC


In a letter delivered at the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) meeting and read into the record by New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel, Phil Murphy has come out against fracking in the Delaware Basin. He is joining the Sierra Club as well as other environmental groups and citizens in calling on the DRBC to make the fracking ban in the region permanent. The DRBC meeting is held on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 at 10:00 am at Washington Crossing Historic Park Visitor Center, 1112 River Road, Washington Crossing, Pa.


“The Delaware River Basin is a treasure that’s under threat from fracking and pipelines and we must have a permanent ban to protect it. This environmentally sensitive area supplies clean drinking water for more than 17 million people. Due to its outstanding natural resources including high water quality and recreational value, the River is designated Wild and Scenic. 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. “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 this environmental progress could be rolled back. That is why we are urging the Commission to defend the Delaware and uphold all of these protections by making the fracking ban permanent. We want to thank Phil Murphy for supporting this important cause and working to protect our 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.


“Fracking should have no role in the energy future of New Jersey, and given the tremendous importance of the Delaware River to the state, that sentiment must also be applied broadly to the Delaware River Basin. It is now time for this moratorium to become a permanent ban,” said Phil Murphy. “What happens in neighboring states does have a direct impact on New Jersey. Our state’s and region’s long-term environmental and economic health and progress go hand-in-hand, and must be put before short-term political whims. This Commission can send that unequivocal message by permanently prohibiting fracking within its jurisdiction.”


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.


“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,” Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “The DRBC’s own new rules make it more difficult for people to testify at the meetings. Phil Murphy was unable to attend and speak himself because the public testimony slots were all already filled. We are 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!”

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