Delaware's Coastal Zone, which extends two-miles inland and 150-miles long, is protected by the Coastal Zone Act. The Coastal Zone Act 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."
Oil Refinery or Wild Land? The Coastal Zone Act was signed into Delaware Law by Governor Russell Peterson in 1971 as a response to plans by Shell Oil Company to build a refinery near Taylor's Bridge and present-day Blackbird Creek Reserve. The Coastal Zone Act is arguably one of the most important environmental laws in the State of Delaware. It restricts industrial development and requires environmental improvement as a pre-requisite for permitting, preserving enormous tracts of wetlands and shoreline as habitat.
Model for National Conservation Policy: The United States Congress recognized the value and impact of Delaware's Coastal Zone Act, and passed the Coastal Zone Management Act the following year in 1972.
Communities Stand Up to Big Oil: "Delaware's Coastal Zone Act was the first time in the world any community has won such a battle with international oil companies." - Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands in 1971, speaking as Chairman of the World Wildlife Fund.
Future of the Coastal Zone? 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 recent 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 State of Delaware recently noticed a new plan by the Delaware City Refinery to stabilize the shoreline from sea level rise and erosion. While on the surface the plan looks like a progressive way to protect the refinery's shoreline and fire suppression equipment (behind the docks in the oil unloading/loading area), a closer look reveals serious problems with the plan and a lack of substantiation of claims made about environmental benefits with evidence and documentation.