Upper Delaware River Basin Citizens
The Upper Delaware River Basin Citizens or UDRBC has called out the DRBC fracking ban as unfair, a theft of property rights, overreach and discrimination.
The proposed ban on natural gas development in the Delaware River Basin by the DRBC is a travesty. It can be summed up as unfair politics, theft of property rights, overreach with respect to the DRBC Compact, and discrimination across county lines.
On June 8, 2015, along with six others, I met with Governor Wolf regarding natural gas development. What was very telling in that meeting was not just what he talked about, but what he never talked about – a concern for water quality or safety! His conversation was all about severance tax and how if we helped him achieve that, he would help us get our gas out of the ground.
Governor Wolf needs to stop playing politics with our lives and our livelihoods. We are no more than dispensable lifelong resident landowners, a sacrifice to the all-important god downriver, the vote! It’s all about votes and Governor Wolf knows where the population is and where his base lives. Oh, but if he could get his severance tax out of us so he could send money to Philadelphia, how things would change! The ban in the DRB has nothing to do with the quality or quantity of the water but the quantity of the vote.
THEFT OF PROPERTY RIGHTS:
In late November, oral arguments resumed at the Third Circuit Court of Appeals on the matter of the Wayne Land and Mineral Group’s lawsuit against the DRBC’s theft of property rights from the upper basin landowners.The precise question put to the DRBC’s chief counsel, Ken Warren, was, “If the only criteria for the DRBC to exercise its jurisdiction
is that it uses water, why can’t you freely roam across the Delaware River Basin and, any place using water, regulate and forbid?” When pressured, instead of answering the question, Warren passed out!
The DRBC is operating in a fashion completely the opposite of the SRBC even though it is composed of the same governing majority of members. For some reason, while it the DRB, they think they can regulate land use in addition to water quality and quantity. If the DRB gets to regulate anything involving water then it can, in fact, “freely roam the basin and, any place using water, regulate and forbid” at will.
This is a massive power grab. Those of us who remember the Tock’s Island debacle see this power grab as a Super Park in the making, only this time it is our property and our rights that are at stake. This is just the beginning of a land grab and a power grab that will work its way into other areas of our lives. Where does it stop? What will be next? Will it be agriculture, timber, construction, or whatever fits into their grand scheme of a super park for this area? Who will be sacrificed next for the creation of a wilderness or a super park here?
OVERREACH OF THE DRBC COMPACT:
The total ban of natural gas development in the Delaware River Basin is the beginning of overreach by an out of control agency of unelected officials who bow to the political winds of the so-called environmentalists such as the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and the William Penn Foundation; EINOs (Environmentalists In Name Only).
Even Hillary Clinton saw the EINOs for what they really are, “We were even up against phony environmental groups, and I’m a big environmentalist, but these were funded by the Russians to stand up against any effort, ‘Oh that pipeline, that fracking, that whatever will be a problem for you,’ and a lot of that money supporting that effort was coming from Russia.”
If natural gas development turns land into moonscapes and causes widespread ruination of water supplies as the anti-fossil fuel so-called environmentalist hypocrites would have us believe, then why is the SRB booming? Property values in Pennsylvania’s most heavily drilled counties, Bradford and Washington, saw median house values increase between 60-70% from 2000-2013. The Wall Street Journal recently published an infographic from Moody’s Investor Service (see below), which shows eight out of nine states that had the highest percentage of growth in property value, are in major oil and gas producing states. Seven of those states are shale states using fracking.
Extending their control beyond the scope of water quality and quantity into land use issues puts the DRBC on a slippery slope of overregulation that will find its way into many other aspects of our lives. Although recreation and tourism are important to this area, it is not the only source of income for people who live and work here.
DISCRIMINATION ACROSS COUNTY LINES:
A complete ban of natural gas development in the Delaware River is unconstitutional. Pennsylvanians should be governed by Pennsylvania Law and not the DRBC. What is good for the vast majority of the sixty-seven counties should be good for all.
The discriminatory treatment of a handful of counties in Pennsylvania is totally unfair. How can three of the same individuals who sit on the DRBC vote the exact opposite when they sit on the SRBC? Both basins supply drinking water and contain special protection waters. If the SRBC’s “remote water quality monitoring network has not detected discernible impacts on the quality of the Basin’s water resources as a result of natural gas development, “ then what would make anyone think that it would be dangerous in the DRB?
In Governor Wolf’s inaugural address he said that Pennsylvania “has to offer a level playing field making sure all businesses, all Pennsylvanians, have a chance to get ahead and that all Pennsylvania’s families deserve the same opportunities.” He also said we needed to be “willing to listen to each other . . . and learn from each other . . . and work together to give all Pennsylvanian’s a shot at a great life.” Does all not include residents of Wayne County just because they live in a different watershed on the other side of a mountain?
Well, welcome to my side of the mountain. On my side of the mountain, I am not allowed to recover what is rightfully mine. I’ve lost out on economic opportunity and my right to prosper. I’ve lost these things just because I am in a different watershed than other areas of Pennsylvania. If a raindrop rolls down the western side of the mountain, all is well. The raindrop is safe. The water resources are unimpaired, and Governor Wolf allows natural gas development, but not on my side of the mountain.
My husband and I attended the Harford Fair last fall and spoke to many vendors. Some told us that they don’t even bother going to the Wayne County Fair because there is no money there. The economic disparity between areas that get your “yea” vote and those who get your “nay” vote is a great injustice. You vote prosperity for one area and poverty for another. What gives you that right? Why is opportunity afforded or denied based on which side of a mountain water descends?
Tom Wolf is a “Where” Wolf. He changes his mind and his vote depending on where he is. Some people change their minds depending on which way the wind blows, but Tom Wolf changes his mind depending on which way the water flows. In the Susquehanna River Basin, he votes drill, Baby, drill, and then in the Delaware River Basin he votes ban, Baby, ban.
All sixty-seven counties in Pennsylvania should be ruled by the same law, Pennsylvania Law, and not be superseded by people they never elected.
Whether you see the ban on natural gas development as unfair politics, theft of property rights, overreach of the DRBC Compact, discrimination across county lines, or all of the above, it is time for you to fight for your rights and your property! Please attend at least one of the venues, but if you cannot attend the public comments or don’t wish to speak publicly, go to the UDRBC website and send a written comment to the DRBC. Sample comments are already prepared for you to choose from if you do not wish to write your own. Just follow the links. Get involved!
Editor’s Note: The UDRBC is doing yeoman’s work and the Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance has recently merged with the organization to give citizens of the Upper Delaware region more influence and the ability to fight back against the rich elitists and extremists who want to make a wilderness of the region. Consider using the UDRBC arguments from above and others from here and here in making your own comments to the DRBC.