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UDRBC Meets with Pennsylvania DEP to Talk Reality About the Future of Wayne County

Josh Fox Fundraiser - Betty Sutliff Reports on the LiesBetty Sutliff
Wayne County Landowner
Member of Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance

 

The Upper Delaware River Basin Citizens (UDRBC) met with Pennsylvania DEP officials Wednesday to talk about its future and what a DRBC fracking ban would do.

Six members of Upper Delaware River Basin Citizens (UDRBC) made a three hour trip to Harrisburg on March 28 to meet with Pennsylvania DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.  The same group had previously spoken with the Secretary following a “Cabinet in Your Community” meeting at Wallenpaupack High School as time was not allotted for their questions to be addressed during the meeting.

UDRBC

Rep. Jonathan Fritz (left) and members of the UDRC meet with Pennsylvania DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell (head of table) in the “Delaware Room” of all places

Prior to the meeting in Harrisburg, the group was asked to submit the questions they had for the Secretary in advance, which they did.  After their questions were reviewed, the UDRBC was told,  “The questions you provided are not appropriate for the meeting discussion, as those issues are subject of litigation,” and, “Absent the Secretary responding to the questions you have provided in the scheduled meeting, please let us know if you still would like to meet with him.” 

Well, yes, we did.  Since the public comment time for the DRBC was still open until March 30 and there had been no vote yet to ban natural gas extraction in the DRB, we did not agree with the position the DEP took regarding our questions.  However, we respected their decision and put our concerns in statement rather than question form.

Joined by Representative Jon Fritz and Michael Cortez from Senator Lisa Baker’s office, the members of UDRBC took turns commenting on the issues they brought to the meeting.  The main points made in the meeting were: 

  • The DRBC is not really concerned about the quality of drinking water downstream because they’ve turn a blind eye to the Barnes Landfill in Barryville, NY.
  • The DRBC public comment period is a sham because the Governors have already stated how they are going to vote.  
  • Only 218 people, both pro and con, spoke at the DRBC public comment venues.  This certainly does not indicate any great concern by the supposed 15 million people in New York and downriver about the safety of their drinking water.  UDRBC had 1,300 signatures on their counter proposal to the ban.
  • Banning natural gas extraction in Wayne County is the canary in the coal mine.  The DRBC is a rogue agency that will continue to creep into other areas like timber and farming.
  • Banning natural gas extraction in Wayne County because of special protection waters is a ruse because there are similar waters in the Susquehanna Basin and the gas companies are able to meet the highest such standards.  Special protection waters designation, moreover, simply addresses anti-degradation requirements for treatment and discharge of wastes and does not authorize a ban or any other land use controls.
  • The water quality has been tested in the Susquehanna River with “no discernible impact.”  In fact, the water quality has improved.

Facts and documentation were provided for all of the above, but my personal goal was to show DEP the face of Wayne County.  The face of Wayne County does not look like Debra Winger, Susan Sarandon, Yoko Ono, Noah Hutton, Mark Ruffalo, or Sean Lennon.  The face of Wayne County is the lifelong residents who have lived and worked on land that has been in families for generations.  

The face of Wayne County is the people who love their land, have worked the land with their hands, and have been good stewards of that land, as evidenced by the exceptional quality of the water.  The face of Wayne County is the people who are emotionally invested in the land and it is their love for the land that causes them to see the economic opportunity that harvesting natural gas may bring to the area as a means to not only save the land, but preserve a way of life as well.  

To me, Wayne County means community.  I gave praise to the Honesdale High School Future Farmers, also in attendance at the Cabinet in Your Community event in Wallenpaupack, who raised $56,000 for a local farm family who lost their barn and herd last winter in a fire.  Those students are the face of Wayne County and I hoped to accurately and adequately represent them. 

Damascus Township Supervisor Steve Adams added to the human interest aspect of the discussion by sharing the heritage of his own family going back to the Virginia settlement and the Mayflower and noting no group was a bigger or longer stakeholder on this issue than the existing residents of Wayne County.  No, the face of Wayne County is not paid protesters or move in movie stars.

UDRBC

Chuck Coocodrilli (seated), Steve Adams, Ned Sader, Betty Sutliff, Tom Shepstone, Rep. Jonathan Fritz and UDRBC President Ned Lang at the top of DEP headquarters (16th floor) overlooking the Capitol on a very foggy Wednesday afternoon

Representative Fritz closed the meeting with some recent articles where Governor Wolf went on record praising the economic benefit of shale in western Pennsylvania along with West Virginia and Ohio.   Fritz stated that allowing any activity to take place in all counties in the state while singling out Wayne County for refusal is unjust and unheard of with any other type of activity. 

Representative Fritz also made it clear that if a ban is enacted in part of the state, the attention of opponents will move to the rest of the state.  Those opposed to natural gas extraction will want to extend the ban to the Susquehanna River Basin next. He made it clear the position of the Governor is a political one and one that puts DEP in a very difficult position that opens up a huge Pandora’s box both legally and politically.

Although the room was stacked with attorneys, including DEP’s chief counsel, and all lips were basically sealed, it was a cordial meeting, and I sensed sincerity from Secretary McDonnell and thanked him for it.  We entered the meeting knowing the folks in attendance had all been directly or indirectly appointed by the Governor and, right or wrong, were bound to do his bidding.  Because they brought their “big guns” to the meeting, we came away feeling they also knew we were not only sincere, but well informed and ready to fight for our rights. We left them with an invitation to join us in a river rubbish roundup we have planned for this summer.

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8 thoughts on “UDRBC Meets with Pennsylvania DEP to Talk Reality About the Future of Wayne County

  1. Outstanding article. The UDRBC needs help from all landowners no matter what state you live in. Here’s the link to their website – https://www.udrbc.org/ and to their facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/UDRBC/ If the super powerful and wealthy forces at work to kill drilling in Wayne County succeed, it will spread like a cancer. If there’s any doubt about who is really behind killing fracking in PA this great op – ed by Tom Shepstone names names – http://nypost.com/2013/03/19/blueblood-agenda/ and this U.S. Senate report by the Committee on the Environment and Public Works really spells it all out – http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/6ce8dd13-e4ab-4b31-9485-6d2b8a6f6b00/chainofenvironmentalcommand.pdf Pay particular attention to the charts on pages 5, 7, 10, 13, and 22. The entire report is titled “The Chain of Environmental Command: How a Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and Obama’s EPA”. Although this report is 92 pages long, 25 pages are reference sources, and of the remaining 67 pages, about one half of each page are references, thus the report is really only about 35 pages. It should make one shudder to see it is not the Russians we should fear, but billionaire foundations and their army of “non – profits” who are insidiously stealing our private land rights under the guise of “clean water” and the “environment”. This Senate report should be shown to Gov Wolf and the DEP Commissioner ASAP. In closing one should ask: why hasn’t the Senate report been widely distributed by the media as it did have a press release by the Senate that was completely ignored? It would appear that the billionaires have far more control than one could ever imagine.

  2. Pingback: UDRBC Meets with Pennsylvania DEP to Talk Reality About the Future of Wayne County - Shale Directories

  3. Pingback: UDRBC Meets with Pennsylvania DEP to Talk Reality About the Future of Wayne County | shaledirectories

  4. My hat is off to those who took the time to express their positions to a rogue agency whose decisions are enforced by groups to whom individual rights are as meaningless as the paper they are written on.

  5. Wonderful, concise and right on target article. Great job Betty telling the facts of gas drilling for the Upper Delaware Property Owners. Thanks to you Betty and the others who attended the meeting in Harrisburg and also thanks to our Representative Jonathan Fritz for setting it up. Now we wait and hopefully facts and history of gas drilling will be upheld for Wayne County development.

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