February 20, 2018

DCS Letter to Incoming DRBC Director Tambini

For years, DCS has been working with the DRBC, providing local and broad based, legal and scientific expertise, especially with regard to all the fracking related issues. In this letter, we greet incoming Executive Director Steve Tambini. We look forward to working with him and the DRBC to protect our beautiful river. Download the letter as a pdf.

August 20, 2014

Mr. Steve Tambini
Executive Director
Delaware River Basin Commission
25 State Police Drive
P.O. Box 7360
West Trenton, NJ 08628-0360

Dear Mr. Tambini,

As the new Executive Director of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, our members and supporters would like to congratulate you on your appointment and state that we look forward to working with you to preserve the pristine waters of the Delaware River Basin and the unique physical and social watershed environment that have produced this priceless regional and national resource.

Over the years, your predecessor, Ms. Carol Collier, found our knowledge of the Basin and our local, legal and scientific water-use expertise beneficial to the Commission and welcomed our participation in the Commission’s deliberations, even when we were raising hard questions about some of her decisions. We hope to find you will be equally open and equally professional regarding the kind of community-based dialogue that is essential to successful management of the Basin’s resources. Honest, open and transparent communication is the only way to ensure that the interests of the towns, villages, hamlets, farmers, small businesses and burgeoning organic and sustainable industries that make life in the Basin of such regional and national importance are properly considered and weighed.

In that spirit, we commend you for your statement at your swearing-in ceremony, “I truly look forward to working with you to uphold the basin compact and collectively manage this magnificent resource.” Those of us who call the Basin home equally look forward to working with the DRBC to do exactly those two things.

At the same time, we must share with you our dismay at the churlish comments of the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC), Tom Shepstone and other pro-oil and gas spokespeople who celebrated Carol Collier’s resignation and the end of her “ignominious era”. Private gossip suggests that MSC is encouraged by your past affiliation with Pennsylvania American Water, an associate member in the Marcellus Shale Coalition, and hope to find you more sympathetic to its agenda of opening up the Basin to shale gas fracking.

Of course, as long-time advocates for a ban on fracking in the Basin, Damascus Citizens and our members must be concerned by the apparent hope of the MSC that you will take a knee jerk pro-fracking position. As Basin residents who would suffer enormous economic, social and environmental losses if fracking comes to the Delaware River Basin (DRB), we have over the past years collected and presented to both the DRBC and the States of New York and Pennsylvania enormous volumes of scientific and technical information
documenting the many dangers and adverse impacts of fracking. And we have fought long and hard to ensure that such material is evaluated fairly and professionally and that the governmental processes of review are impartial, science based and take into full account these community concerns. We look for you, whatever your prior associations, to do the same. The only thing ignominious here is the apparent industry hope that you will not do so.

For six years, we have waited for the industry to engage with us on one question: how can fracking — with all its known and demonstrable risks to human communities, flora, fauna, food – and watersheds -– be compatible with the Basin Compact which states, ”that pollution by sewage or industrial or other waste originating within a signatory state shall not injuriously affect waters of the basin as contemplated by the comprehensive plan.” Moreover, we have no patience with the refusal of the industry to engage in addressing the question of whether there is any way for fracking to be made compatible with the DRBC’s jurisdiction and mandate: “to control future pollution and abate existing pollution in the waters of the basin.” The Compact very clearly specifies that, “The ground waters of the Basin shall not contain substances or properties attributable to the activities of man in concentrations or amounts sufficient to endanger or preclude the water uses to be protected. Within this requirement, the ground waters shall be free from substances or properties in concentrations or combinations which are toxic or harmful to human, animal, plant, or aquatic life, or that produce color, taste, or odor of the waters.” Albert Appleton, currently an international water resource management consultant and the former Commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection who created the famed New York City Catskill watershed protection plan has stated to the Commission, “Quite apart from the many sources of physical pollutants that fracking would produce, the landscape disruption created by fracking, with its drilling pads, deforestation, spoils ponds, roads and pipeline corridors, and storage facilities would totally transform and degrade the hydrological qualities of the DRB, destroying the pristine quality of the watershed and resulting in major and permanent damage to all aspects of the Delaware River water resource.”

We are determined to prevent that, as we believe the DRBC must be. We look forward to working with you on our mutual goal of protecting the hydrological treasure that is currently the DRB and to ensuring that the DRBC’s actions are based on the best scientific information and standards of professional administrative practice.

Very truly yours,
B. Arrindell