Activists call for fracking ban along Delaware River

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The battle over fracking the Delaware River is heating back up again as a group marched to the New York state capitol to hand over a petition signed by thousands of residents.

“I live on a piece of land that has been in my family for multiple generations,” explained Wes Gillinghan, the associate director of Catskill Mountainkeeper.

Wes and his family live next to the Delaware River Basin, and to him the area is important to protect.

“It’s the longest free flowing river in the east, it has healthy populations of eels, eagles, multiple other species. It has some of the cleanest water in the country,” continued Gillinghan.

The Delaware River also provides water to 17 million people, which is why this group delivered a petition to Governor Cuomo signed by over 60,000 people who are calling for a continued ban on fracking in the Delaware River Basin.

The area is overseen by the DRBC, or the Delaware River Basin Commission.

Members in the group are the governors of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and also parts of the federal government.

“It could also ramp up the development of new pipelines and compressor stations across NY state despite our statewide fracking ban,” said one of the members from the National Resources Defense Council.

But not all agree that regulating fracking falls under the DRBC commission’s jurisdiction.

“They’re primary purpose is to regulate water activities to make sure we don’t have unnecessary diversion of water from one place to another,” explained Thomas West, a managing partner of West Law Firm, an energy and environmental law firm. “ I don’t think they have any business trying to prohibit fracking.”

While thousands signed this petition, a large part of the community especially in the southern part of New York, support the fracking of the Delaware, seeing it as an opportunity.

“Every report that has come out since then has demonstrated that hydraulic fracturing can be done safely and without adverse environmental impacts and that the industry is doing just that,” said West.

Despite whatever decision is made with the Delaware River Basin, fracking will remain illegal in New York for now.

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