Delaware River Basin Commission
On Wednesday 3/6 a group of over 100 anti-fracking and pipeline activists converged on Trenton to demand that the DRBC ignore us no longer. We asked the Commission to exercise its full jurisdiction over all pipelines crossing our exceptional watershed, which provides drinking water to about 17 million people.
When the DRBC attempted to skip right from the Legal Report section of the meeting to voting on the dockets on their agenda, Maya Van Rossum of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network stood and demanded that the people who had travelled for hours from around our region have the opportunity to be heard. After she finished (to the chagrin of Commission Chair Kelly Heffner from PA, who repeatedly tried to hush her) "the people's public hearing" began as people around the room stood to testify. The flustered Heffner called the meeting to a recess and the commissioners exited the room to resounding boos and a chorus of "Shame! Shame! Shame!" chants.
When the commissioners returned they said that they would hear comments at the end of the meeting. When that did not appease the crowd, they agreed to move the comment period up but still insisted on doing it their way -- with only people who had previously signed up speaking, in a pre-determined order at a microphone in the middle of the room which they would shut off if anyone spoke for more than 2 minutes each. Despite these attempts, the activist took control of the meeting and proceeded as planned, each standing and speaking their full comments at their seats around the room. Around 70 people spoke out about the petitions and the issues at hand.
Around 2:15pm Ms. Heffner called the DRBC business meeting back to order and demanded testimonies stop and for the Commission to commence docket voting. The Commission seemed to take their votes as quickly as possible, attempting unsuccessfully to simply speak over the chants of the crowd and singing of "This Land is Your Land". Maya Van Rossum again demanded the Commission take a vote on "the people's resolution" for DRBC to exercise jurisdiction over NEUP and all pipelines through the watershed.
DRBC Executive Director, Carol Collier appeared to be rushing toward the exit immediately after the docket voting, when she seemed to realize that she was required to stay until 3pm. She, Kathy Stiller and the other Commissioners sat staring blankly and chit chatting as protesters sang "This Land..", "We Shall Overcome" and "We Shall Not be Moved" in addition to chanting "We want a vote!" among other things, from the conclusion of DRBC’s official business around 2:30pm until the public meeting's end time at 3pm.
Though the DRBC acknowledged their error in not reviewing 2 now completed pipelines, they are continuing to make the same mistakes and ignoring our pleas for oversight on the Tennessee Gas Pipeline's North East Upgrade Project.
DRBC -- Apologizing after the fact for avoidable damage already inflicted on communities and the environment is not enough!
TGP has already begun the clear cutting of mature trees on private property in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, even though they have not received a necessary wetlands permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. The Federal Government representative on the DRBC is Lieutenant Colonel John Becking, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District Commander.
Though the DRBC did not acknowledge our request for them to take a vote to accept the Delaware Riverkeeper petition, signed onto by our chapter and 65 other organizations as well as almost 3,000 citizens, we feel that the day was a big success in that our voices were finally begun to be heard. Hopefully the DRBC got the message after 30 minutes of singing and chanting to close out the meeting that "We want a vote!" and we will be back! The next DRBC meeting will be held on May 8th in Trenton.
DRN Video: Delaware Riverkeeper Network video DRBC pipeline protest
The News Eagle: http://www.neagle.com/article/20130306/NEWS/130309863/1001/NEWS
Protecting Our Waters: http://protectingourwaters.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/voices-of-the-people...
The Reporter: http://www.thereporteronline.com/article/20130307/NEWS01/130309634/marce...
Philadelphia Inquirer Story 1: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/greenliving/DRBC-meeting-ends-with-mo...
Philadelphia Inquirer Story 2: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/greenliving/Protesters-demand-to-be-h...