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Statement of Megan DeSmedt, Environment America Clean Water Campaign Director, on the DRBC proposal to ban fracking in the Delaware River Watershed

For Immediate Release

“Good morning Commissioners, and thank you for the opportunity to speak.

“My name is Megan DeSmedt and I am the clean water campaign director with Environment America. We are a citizen based environmental advocacy group with a presence in states across the country. I am here today representing our 1.5 million members, supporters, and activists across the country including almost 300,000 here in the watershed from our state based organizations PennEnvironment, Environment New Jersey, and Environment New York. I also am here as a resident, I live in South Philadelphia, just a few miles away.

“Today, I am here to deliver a message from our supporters: we applaud your proposal to ban fracking in the Delaware River Basin, and protect drinking water for over 15 million people, as well as habitat for countless wildlife and the special places we like to go hiking, fishing, swimming and boating. I can’t wait for the weather to get a little warmer so my family and I can get out and enjoy some of the natural beauty our area has to offer, whether it’s right down the street at the Heinz Wildlife Refuge, or at Ridley Creek, the Wissahickon, or countless other places.

“I am pleased to see the DRBC and Governors from the basin states move to ban fracking, recognizing that the public is demanding protection to our health, environment and the drinking water for nearly 15 million Americans from the dangers posed by fracking in the watershed.Here in Pennsylvania, 65 drilling companies have committed more than 6,200 violations of Pennsylvania’s environmental laws, and there is a growing mountain of evidence that shows fracking threatens our air, water, land and health.  Considering the gas industry’s track record of pollution in Pennsylvania, and the latest science, this is absolutely the right move.

“While we support  prohibiting fracking in the Delaware River watershed, we call on DRBC to strengthen this proposal to ensure our watershed is protected from the dangers inherent in the disposal, storage, treatment or discharge of fracking wastewater, as well as a ban on water withdrawal from the basin for fracking or any other purposes. These activities pose a very serious threat to water quality and the ecological health of the basin, and must not be allowed. More work is needed to address these threats as the process moves ahead.

“Since efforts to allow fracking in the Delaware River watershed were first broached nearly 10 years ago, our organizations have played a crucial role highlighting both the risks posed by fracking and the public support from the region’s residents to protect the Basin from this harmful activity. Given the harm caused by fracking and the risk it poses to our environment and health, it’s not surprising that tens of thousands of residents have voiced their opposition to fracking in the watershed, establishing what we believe to be the largest public comment in DRBC history. We are seeing an equally vocal and engaged citizenry around these proposed regulations.

“We applaud you for undertaking the work to ban fracking and we look forward to working with you to ensure that the watershed is protected not only from fracking, but all its related activities. Thank you.”