The Delaware River is a gem for our region that provides pristine waters, clean and abundant drinking water, beauty, an abundance of recreational opportunities, and intact forested river corridors. The river deserves our most diligent protection, especially because the quality of our waters is exceptional which is increasingly rare. Unfortunately, the Pennsylvania General Assembly recently accepted for consideration a pair of bills that fails to protect our water.
House Bill 2450 proposes to radically change the structure of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) by allocating an unequal number of votes to the members of this intergovernmental compact based on land acreage in the watershed.
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, and the Federal government formed the DRBC compact in 1961 as equal partners. Each member has one vote with equal interest in protecting and controlling the water quality and quantity in the basin without regard for political boundaries. One state, one vote reflects our country’s long-standing principle of one person, one vote. No single person holds greater voting power because of the number of acres he or she owns. HB 2450 violates this one person, one vote principle, and skews asunder the agreement that forms the basis of the ground-breaking and successful intergovernmental DRBC compact.
House Bill 2451 carves out a special exception only for hydraulic fracking, specifically without placing special restrictions on the impacts to people and our environmental resources.
The bill proposes the special exception for fracking “provided that the rules and regulations do not impede or interfere with the operation or control of projects, structures or facilities constructed or used in connection with hydraulic fracturing.” This special exception is a corruption of the legislative process.
The House introduced these bills in March and the House Appropriations Committee determined that neither bills would “impact Commonwealth funds” and that the change to the DRBC is without effect until the other members of the compact enacted identical legislation. The House then referred the bills to the Senate Committee on Environmental Resources and Energy in April.
HB 2450 and HB 2451 waste our taxpayer money because the other DRBC members have not indicated a willingness to change the compact. Additionally, these changes would most certainly cost us money and impair our waters. We deserve representation that protects our clean drinking water and the Delaware River.