While DRBC hearings to date have been fairly conducted, they don’t count. The agency has already predetermined the outcome and denied landowners due process, but…
The DRBC hearings to date on its proposed ban on the development hydraulic fractured horizontally drilled gas wells in the basin have been fairly conducted. A retired judge with no axes to grind and little or no knowledge of the matters at hand has acted as hearing officer, which has freed the commissioners from having to face the public whose rights they’re stealing.
Moreover, the judge has started each hearing with a monologue in which he has stated they are real opportunities for public input. There’s not a doubt in my mind he means it, but he happens to be totally wrong, precisely because he’s unfamiliar with the issue. He doesn’t realize he’s engaging in sham DRBC hearings, the outcome of which has already been predetermined, making a mockery of the due process of law to which we’re all supposed to be entitled.
The DRBC hearings are an opportunity to make a record but, beyond that, they are clearly meaningless. Phil Murphy, the new Governor of New Jersey and NJ Spotlight, one of the house organs of the same William Penn Foundation that has funded the DRBC and the Delaware Riverkeeper, tell us this is so (emphasis added):
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy yesterday joined neighboring governors in backing a ban on hydraulic fracturing, making a prohibition on the controversial natural-gas drilling practice in the Delaware River Basin much more likely.
At a press conference in Phillipsburg on the banks of the Delaware River, Murphy also said he is opposed to the dumping of fracking waste within the basin and withdrawal of water within the watershed to be used in drilling operations outside the basin…
“Today, we reverse course,’’ Murphy told a gathering of supporters at Union Square on the river’s edge, saying the banning of fracking will protect the public’s health and safety, which are at risk from the drilling.
Murphy also sent a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf, the chairman of the DRBC, announcing his support for a ban, which is likely to be voted on by the commission later this year.
Gov. Murphy, with this event and statement in the middle of the DRBC hearings has chosen to declare he’s already made a decision to side with environmental extremists. He’s not interested in public input. Public comment is for serfs and commoners. He’s more interested in paying back the Haas family (William Penn Foundation) and the Rockefeller family (Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation) who fund both NJ Spotlight and the Delaware Povertykeeper a/k/a Riverkeeper and want to make a wilderness of the Upper Delaware. Just call Murphy “Panderer Phil.”
The other governors on the DRBC have also already declared there will vote for a fracking ban. Here’s what Food & Water Watch posted in March, 2017, for example, regarding Tom “the Two-Faced Trustfunder” Wolf’s position:
Pennsylvania is home to thousands of fracking wells, but the state’s governor has declared that fracking is off-limits in one critical part of the state. At a March 12 meeting in Philadelphia, I stepped up to ask Governor Tom Wolf if he supported a ban on fracking in the Delaware River Basin. His answer couldn’t have been any clearer: “Yes, absolutely.”
Wolf’s commitment comes at a crucial moment. Activists in the four states represented on the Delaware River Basin Commission (Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Delaware) fear that the DRBC might be considering new regulations that would allow drilling in the watershed, which provides drinking water to 17 million people. Hundreds showed up for a DRBC meeting last month to show that they vigorously oppose any moves that would allow drilling. News reports indicate that environmental officials from Pennsylvania have been discussing such regulations with DRBC staff.
Then, there is Governor Andrew Corruptocrat Cuomo and Governor Carney of Delaware who said this:
“Protecting and preserving our water resources is paramount to ensuring the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers and of all residents living within the Delaware River Basin,” Governor Cuomo said. “With this resolution, the DRBC builds on New York’s leadership to protect the environment and public health from hydraulic fracturing, while protecting this vital water source that millions of people depend on every day. I am proud to stand with my colleagues from Delaware and Pennsylvania in approving this critical resolution and we will continue to work on developing the necessary regulations to codify this commonsense resolution.”
Delaware Governor John Carney said that the DRBC resolution is consistent with the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act, a bill introduced by Carney and passed by Congress in 2016, by helping to ensure that the water resources of the basin will be protected for present and future generations. “Fracking could diminish water resources in the Delaware River Basin, both through consumption and degraded water quality,” said Gov. Carney. “We are pleased to join both New York and Pennsylvania in voting in favor of this resolution, which will protect public health, and a precious water supply. This action will guarantee that fracking for oil and gas will not threaten water resources in the Basin.”
There’s also the matter of Attorney Kenneth Warren’s deceitful arguments to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in November, when he told the court (beginning at 31:35) that gas wells would be repeatedly hydraulically fractured (very seldom happens) and that he’d been instructed to develop regulations banning the practice.
If there’s any open-mindedness in any of these statements, someone needs to point it out to me, because I don’t see it. The decision has already been made. The DRBC hearings are a complete sham. And, that may be the good news.
I say that because there’s such a thing as the due process of law that’s guaranteed by our Constitution and agencies—even independent agencies who imagine they’re above the law—are subject to it. The Federal Maritime Commission, for example, was the subject of a landmark legal decision in 1978 from the District of Columbia District of the US Court of Appeals, which said this:
“The public right to participate in a hearing, however, is effectively nullified when the agency decision is based not on the submissions and information known and available to all, but rather on the private conversations and secret points and arguments to which the public and the participating parties have no access. In such cases the exercise of permitting public comment and response by interested parties the “hearing” is nothing more than a sham.”
Clearly, those circumstances exist here as well. The DRBC members haven’t waited for the “submissions and information know and available to all” that comes out of public hearings. The decision is pre-ordained by the definitive statements of four governors before the hearings are even finished. They’ve made behind the scenes deals and commitments with each other and with an elitist environmental oligarchy composed of the Rockefeller’ NRDC gang, the William Penn Foundation and like-minded power-players. Their in tent is to abscond with the mineral rights of Upper Delaware landowners without compensation. Moreover, they have deliberately ignored SRBC water quality data, making a mockery of the baseless speculation they have put out to justify their intended action. If there were ever an instance of an agency conducting sham hearings, this is it.
What does it mean? Why is it good news? Because this thuggish behavior can be very useful in another lawsuit against the DRBC. Their reckless “dam the torpedos, full speed ahead” rush to the cameras to signal their political virtues to the elitist environmental oligarchy, while they grab our land in an act of raw political power, may well come back to bite them where it hurts.