A comment by the DRBC in regard to folks concerned about the economic impact of its proposed fracking ban reveals stunning ignorance as well as arrogance.
Energy In Depth has a nice summary of the hearing held in Waymart earlier this week to gather local opinion on the potential impact of what appears to be a proposed fracking ban by the Delaware river Basin Commission (DRBC). Reading it, I learned something I didn’t know, even though I was there and testified. I had not seen the Channel 16 coverage of the events and didn’t realize the excuse the DRBC gave for not attending to hear local opinion. When I did read it, I was absolutely stunned at the ignorance and the arrogance of the statement.
Here’s what the calloused, tone-deaf, uniformed DRBC representative who spoke with Channel 16 said was the reason they didn’t come to hear the voices of those impacted, though they were specifically invited (emphasis added):
DRBC did receive an invitation to today’s hearing. We were informed that the subject of the hearing would be focused on the local economic impact that DRBC’s proposed natural gas regulations would have on the area.
The commission’s focus is water resource management, and not economic impact; as such, we did not feel that our attendance at this hearing was appropriate.
It’s hard to think of adjectives and adverbs strong enough to convey my utter disgust with this statement. It’s the epitome of bureaucratic arrogance, the elitism of the appointed who know they’re responsible to no one as long as they do the will of craven politicians. It starts with the willful ignorance of the Delaware River Basin Compact under which authority the agency operates, which states the following:
Whereas some twenty-two million people of the United States at present live and work in the region of the Delaware River Basin and its environs, and the government, employment, industry, and economic development of the entire region and the health, safety, and general welfare of its population are and will continue to be vitally affected by the use, conservation, management, and control of the water and related resources of the Delaware River Basin…
The commission shall have power to acquire, operate and control projects and facilities for the storage and release of waters, for the regulation of flows and supplies of surface and ground waters of the basin, for the protection of public health, stream quality control, economic development, improvement of fisheries, recreation, dilution and abatement of pollution, the prevention of undue salinity and other purposes.
No one can read these two provisions and not realize the DRBC exists in large part to ensure water is available for economic development, including natural gas development. Yet, the agency suggests it has nothing to do with economic development?
This is nothing less than outrageous, the heritage of Carol Collier’s leadership when she did everything she could to turn the DRBC into an uber-environmental super-agency. She ignored the economic development mandate and it appears Steve Tambini, the current Executive Director, intends to do the same, unwilling to confront the blatant politics of his commission members and more interested in pleasing the malcontents and elitists who are now setting DRBC policy by intimidation and surreptitious funding of that intimidation.
The striking arrogance of the DRBC in supposing the agency has no responsibility to consider the economic impact of the regulations it is developing is even more appalling. What kind of bureaucrat supposes it’s good PR to tell those dramatically impacted by its actions that they just don’t count? That they’re just a bunch of backwoods rubes whose lives don’t measure up against the scenic values of New Yorkers? T`hat the DRBC just doesn’t give a damn and “don’t need no stinking’ badges” or any economic development for that matter?
There are, interestingly enough, a whole series of executive orders at the Federal level ordering agencies enacting new regulations to “assess all costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives, including the alternative of not regulating” where the regulations would “have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or communities.”
Likewise, Pennsylvania has an Independent Regulatory Review Commission that uses a very specific series of questions to evaluate the economic impact of new Commonwealth regulations. Among those questions are the following:
Describe the communications with and solicitation of input from the public, any advisory council/group, small businesses and groups representing small businesses in the development and drafting of the regulation.
Identify the types and number of persons, businesses, small businesses … and organizations which will be affected by the regulation. How are they affected?
Identify the financial, economic and social impact of the regulation on individuals, small businesses, businesses and labor communities and other public and private organizations. Evaluate the benefits expected as a result of the regulation.
List any special provisions which have been developed to meet the particular needs of affected groups or persons including, but not limited to, minorities, the elderly, small businesses, and farmers.
Include a description of any alternative regulatory provisions which have been considered and rejected and a statement that the least burdensome acceptable alternative has been selected.
Now, I’ve had enough experience with government to know the bureaucracy can always find the selective facts to support whatever position it takes, so these provisions are hardly a serious obstacle to a determined politician and an obsequious staff of hacks, but they do demand attention. They force the bureaucracy to make claims that are subject to debate and potential future litigation by those impacted. They do, ultimately, have an impact, which illustrates the problem here; that the DRBC is subject to no such restrictions because it’s a compact and neither state nor Federal government per se.
The DRBC is, rather, a rogue government entity that can abscond with the rights of state residents and the states themselves, whenever governors such as Tom “Trustfunder” Wolf and Andrew “Corruptocrat’ Cuomo are willing to sell out some portion of their constituents. The DRBC can thumb its nose at those constituents and “steal their women and children” with impunity. It can swagger up to Channel 16 and tell their reporter, in so many words, “we don’t need no stinking’ badges and “we don’t do no stinkin’ economic development either” despite a clear mandate to the contrary.
It’s long past time Pennsylvania began the process of withdrawing from the Delaware River Basin Compact if this is how it views those of us who happen to live here.