Sierra Club asks Governor Markell to preserve the integrity and intent of the Coastal Zone Act
The Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club asks Governor Markell to preserve the integrity and intent of the Delaware Coastal Zone Act throughout his activities as Governor, and asks him to prioritize environmental conservation and restrictions on industrial development within the Coastal Zone.
In 1971, Governor Russell Peterson signed into law one of Delaware’s most important pieces of environmental legislation, the Delaware Coastal Zone Act. This legislation describes how “the coastal areas of Delaware are the most critical areas for the future of the State in terms of the quality of life in the State.”
Despite the specific restraints on new heavy industrial development in the Coastal Zone Act, the new construction of heavy industry has proceeded at an alarming pace during the past four years. The upcoming permitting process at the Delaware City Refinery is an area of particular concern, as the Refinery is within our Coastal Zone.
The intent of the Coastal Zone Act is to protect the Coastal Zone. Since DNREC has not implemented its “Environmental Goals and Indicators for Delaware’s Coastal Zone,” written in May 1999, all decisions regarding offsets remain arbitrary. DNREC was not funded to implement these indicators, including high priority items such as ambient air quality and affected populations. Any building in the Coastal Zone, without the use of these indicators, undermines the integrity and intent of the law.
In addition, it is the responsibility of the permit applicant wanting to build in the Coastal Zone to demonstrate how their offsets outweigh their impacts. In order to successfully evaluate offsets, the applicant must undergo a thorough review of what impacts will result of building in the Coastal Zone. Without implementation indicators by DNREC, offsets are decided as individual value judgments rather than regulatory decisions.
Executive Order 36, which Governor Markell signed on June 14, 2012, also appears to encourage political influence into the regulatory process of the Coastal Zone Act. In this Executive Order the Governor has directed staff to review existing regulations “to consider the real-world effects of regulations in light of economic, technological and other changes”, “reduce impediments to economic growth”, and to “to conduct a periodic, focused and targeted review of areas in which existing regulations may be reduced or streamlined”.
The Governor of Delaware has sworn an oath to uphold the laws of this state, including the Coastal Zone Act. We ask that the Governor keep his oath to the citizens of this state and uphold the letter of the law in the Coastal Zone Act and the permitting process for the Delaware City Refinery. The Governor can provide assurance of his commitment to Delaware’s Coastal Zone by describing, in detail, how the Coastal Zone Act and corresponding Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control regulations will be applied to the Delaware City Refinery’s permit process for their proposed expansion.