President, Upper Delaware River Basin Citizens
Ned Lang, Upper Delaware River Basin Citizens (UDRBC), talks about the group’s meeting with Rep. Matt Cartwright’s representative to talk DRBC issues.
On November 7, 2019 four members of the Upper Delaware River Basin Citizens (UDRBC) met with April Niver, Economic Development Director for US Representative Matt Cartwright. In attendance were UDRBC President Ned Lang, UDRBC member Andrew Vannatta, and Board of Directors Bob Rutledge and Betty Sutliff. The meeting was held at Representative Jon Fritz’s office in Honesdale.
The UDRBC, a large coalition of landowners mostly centered in Wayne County, is at the forefront in an effort to defend and honor the private property rights of all citizens of the Delaware River Basin. Working with politicians at all levels to further member land use rights, the delegation’s goal was to meet with Rep. Cartwright’s aide to inform Representative Cartwright of the concerns UDRBC members have regarding the mission creep and overreach of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) and its unfair treatment of the landowners in Wayne County.
The concern of the UDRBC is that the DRBC is moving outside of its Compact into regulation of any use of water and at the same time ignoring the economic balance of its Compact, favoring recreation and tourism at the expense of industries like agriculture, manufacturing, natural gas, timber, and other industries.
More specifically, these were the points made:
- Board member Bob Rutledge gave a brief history of our group, starting with the Northern Wayne Property Owners’ Alliance (NWPOA) and the due diligence done by its members to acquire a landowner friendly and environmentally protective lease, which cost the group almost three-quarters of a million dollars. The three attorneys hired to develop the lease specialized in oil and gas law, environmental law, and Pennsylvania law. The loss of that lease was an economic loss to our members of an estimated $186 million dollars in just bonus money.
- Our initial perceived distrust of the oil industry, which prompted such a comprehensive and expensive lease, has turned into a distrust of the environmental movement and the DRBC.
- The overreach/mission creep of the DRBC is a huge concern of ours. The DRBC sees any human activity as a project to be regulated by them. This is outside of their Charter. Right now the most obvious, or the canary in the coalmine so to speak, is their belief that a well pad is a project and under their regulation because it will use water in the future. The Wayne Land and Mineral Group is suing them. Another area they have started to encroach upon is septic systems.
- The exceptional value waters here are a result of our good stewardship and the open fields that we have. We are the true environmentalists, as opposed to the anti-fossil fuel advocates, and our farmlands are very important to us, as many of those farms have been in our families for multiple generations.
- The disingenuous nature of the DRBC is apparent, as they have turned a blind eye to areas like the Barnes Landfill. Documentation showing the DRBC was notified of leachate flowing freely into the river goes back to 2012.
- The four governors stated they would vote in favor of a ban on natural gas in the DRB before public comment was ever given. Yet, Governors Wolf and Cuomo sit on the Susquehanna River Basin Commission and vote in favor of natural gas. That is not fair to us. Is a ban in our basin a precursor to a ban in that basin? When members of NWPOA met with Governor Wolf, his position was that if they helped him get his severance tax, he would help them get their gas out of the ground. However, the current impact fee is going to areas that are impacted and would help with a lot of the road repair that we need here.
- DRBC Executive Director Steve Tambini refused to answer our question regarding what other industries are banned in the Basin due to possible risk. He said his refusal to answer was due to the ongoing lawsuit with the Wayne Land and Mineral Group, yet he allows the Delaware Riverkeeper to sit on 5 of 7 DRBC committees. The RiverKeeper has already sued the DRBC and is poised to sue them again should they open up the basin to natural gas development.
- Pennsylvania has over half of the landmass in the basin but only 20% of the say. Pennsylvanians, therefore, are being unfairly controlled by other governors for whom they did not vote.
- A hydro-geologist, Brian Oram, was allowed to sit on a DRBC committee via Farm-Bureau, but he resigned due to the strong opposition he experienced. Our organization and other like-minded groups would like the opportunity to sit on some of the DRBC committees which impact our region, and also to participate in Congressional hearings regarding the DRBC’s activities as the DRBC attorneys are on record establishing that the DRBC wants to have jurisdiction over all human activities (projects) that could potentially negatively impact waters in the Delaware River Basin.
- We recognize the importance of eco-tourism in the Poconos, but maintain that economic development is part of the DRBC Charter and should not favor recreation and tourism at the expense of industries like agriculture, manufacturing, natural gas, timber, and other industries.
- We invited Congressman Cartwright to visit a well site with us on April 24th and requested that Ms. Niver find out where Congressman Cartwright stands with regard to the DRBC’s proposed ban on fracking and the takings of our minerals. We expressed our wish to have continued dialog with the Congressman.
To learn more about the UDRBC and its mission or to become a member, go to udrbc.org.