The Dysfunctional DRBC Has No Idea What It’s Doing

delaware riverkeeper - Jim Willis reportsJim Willis
Editor & Publisher, Marcellus Drilling News (MDN)


The dysfunctional DRBC hasn’t got a clue. There’s a vacuum of leadership that has let it drift under the control of demagogic politicians and fractivists.

Talk about a dysfunctional mess.

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), a governmental organization remote-controlled by Big Green special interests, doesn’t even know how to communicate with another governmental organization; the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Earlier this year, at the prompting of radical groups like THE Delaware Riverkeeper, the dysfunctional DRBC sent a request to FERC asking the agency to block any tree felling ahead of a final approval by DRBC for the PennEast Pipeline; even though FERC and NOT the DRBC is the authorizing agency for PennEast.

FERC doesn’t have to wait for anybody for any of its decisions, of course. Nonetheless, FERC does listen, especially to fellow governmental organizations. FERC gets a lot of mail, email, etc. from complainers like the DRBC, so they have strict protocols in place for how other agencies and parties talk to it. The DRBC should have sent their request to FERC Secretary Kimberly Bose (she’s held that position and has been the point person since 2007), but it didn’t follow protocol.

Instead, the dysfunctional DRBC just fired off their huffy demand to someone else in a different department. So, it never got considered. Totally blown off. Funny!

And, now, the dysfunctional DRBC is scrambling, attempting to cover up the fact they’re so dysfunctional they don’t their know their heads from their…well, we’ll just leave it at that.

This is the same DRBC that says they need to ban fracking within the river basin to protect water supplies (even though their sister agency SRBC says the water’s fine after a decade of fracking). They can’t even send a letter to the right person, so how the heck are they qualified to determine whether or not fracking threatens water supplies?! The good news on the DRBC frack ban is that a lawsuit addressing the agency’s project authority proceeds in the Federal courts; something that makes the DRBC very nervous.

Here’s how the biased StateImpact Pennsylvania tries to help DRBC cover up their ineptitude in attempting to block PennEast:

The Delaware River Basin Commission asked a federal regulator to prevent PennEast cutting trees in the basin before it issues any approval for its controversial natural gas pipeline project in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, according to documents released on Wednesday.

But its request was not considered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission because it was not sent through the proper channels, a FERC spokeswoman said. The DRBC confirmed it had asked FERC to block early tree clearing by PennEast but had not received a reply.

Tamara Young-Allen, a spokeswoman for FERC, said the DRBC’s request has not been considered because the letter was not sent to the agency’s secretary, Kimberley Bose, as required, but to an official in the Office of Energy Projects.

If DRBC resubmits the letter through the proper channels, its request will be considered, Young-Allen said.

The documents were published by the environmental group Delaware Riverkeeper Network, which earlier this year urged DRBC to stop PennEast from doing any construction-related activities, including tree-cutting, until the interstate agency decides whether to issue permits.

In a letter to FERC in April, DRBC asked the agency to amend its certificate approving PennEast so that the company could not cut trees in the basin “until such time as the DRBC issues an approval for the project or activity.”

DRBC, which represents the basin states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Delaware plus the federal government, said it anticipates that PennEast might want to start cutting trees early in view of the many months it would take to build the 120-mile pipeline.

“The DRBC is concerned that the premature felling of trees could result in water resource impacts related to stream bank stability, soil erosion, and instream sedimentation that could go unmitigated unless and until the pipeline is actually built,” the agency said.

The agency’s request recalls Constitution Pipeline’s felling of several acres of maple trees on a northeast Pennsylvania farm in 2016 to make way for a pipeline that failed about a month later to get a crucial permit from New York state. That project now appears to be dead after a series of judicial and regulatory setbacks, while the landowners, the Holleran family, are seeking compensation for their lost trees.

Riverkeeper network head Maya van Rossum praised the river basin commission for asking FERC to deny any plans for tree clearing. She said DRN wants to avoid a repetition of the Constitution “debacle” but is also trying to remove one argument that FERC may use to overturn legal opposition to pipeline projects.

If trees are already cut, FERC may argue in court that a project is too far along to be denied, and seek to block all legal challenges, she said.

“We don’t want any undue and/or premature damage inflicted and we don’t want to see any undue pressure placed on the agencies because work has already begun in earnest on a project before all decisions are made,” van Rossum said.

Pat Kornick, a spokeswoman for PennEast, declined to say whether the company plans to cut trees before getting any DRBC permit, but appeared to leave open that possibility.

“At the appropriate time, PennEast will proceed within the limits of the approvals that have been granted,” she said.

PennEast anticipates beginning construction in 2019, Kornick said, later than its earlier plan for 2018.

FERC approved the project in January, but it still needs permits from the DRBC and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Those agencies could come under more pressure to approve the project if the company cuts trees before they have decided whether to issue permits, van Rossum said.

The project also needs approval from a federal judge in New Jersey who is deciding whether to grant the company’s eminent domain petitions on about 150 landowners who declined offers of compensation for building the pipeline on their properties.

Van Rossum said DRN obtained the DRBC letter through a Freedom of Information Act filing with the agency.

Editor’s Note: I’m not sure StateImpactPA is so much covering up the actions of a dysfunctional DRBC as it is doing the dirty work of the Delaware Povertykeeper a/k/a Riverkeeper. StateImpactPA and the Povertykeeper are sister shills for the Haas and Heinz families and their special interests, after all, and the former never misses an opportunity to quote the latter, keeping the fractivist echo chamber functioning like a powerful high-tech machine.

If I had to bet, in fact, I’d say Maya, after getting her FOIA information, ran to her fellow gentry class tools at StateImpactPA with a “You won’t believe what those bumbling DRBC idiots did; we need to hammer them to keep the pressure on.” This is one of the myriad ways she manipulates Steve Tambini, who has turned out to be weak and ineffectual leader, on behalf of her wealthy patrons.

dysfunctional DRBC

Maya vanRossum at work in dysfunctional DRBC meeting

Tambini is a very nice guy with no agenda of his own that I can detect, unlike his predecessor, but is seemingly incapable of steering his Commissioners away from trouble, which is the first obligation of any good bureaucrat—protecting them from themselves. The evidence is in his failure to use his legal counsel to dissuade his members from announcing their positions and votes before holding sham hearings on an incredibly flawed fracking ban.

Further evidence is offered by this latest episode, which tells us; a) he can’t stop the agency from doing stupid stunts like tree-cutting petitions to appease the unappeasable, and b) he can’t even get his staff to research how to at least do it correctly according to protocol. The culture of any organization comes from the top. Weakness inspires boldness among the incompetent and the agenda-driven and that’s what’s happening with the dysfunctional DRBC as it falls under the control of everyone but its leader. I wish it weren’t so, and had high hopes for the man, but what I see is an increasingly dysfunctional DRBC

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One thought on “The Dysfunctional DRBC Has No Idea What It’s Doing

  1. Unsurprising. The people who go around organizing the antipipeline resistance often MISINFORM people about lots of things, including how to properly participate in a ferc docket. Penn East has a docket no doubt full of interesting stuff, right?

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