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Montgomery and Bucks counties join lawsuit opposing bid to negate DRBC fracking ruling

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Bucks and Montgomery counties have joined Sen. Steve Santarsiero and his colleagues in their effort to preserve the authority of the Delaware River Basin Commission to ban fracking in the Delaware River Basin.

Santarsiero (D-10) held a virtual press conference April 15, along with Bucks County Commissioners Diane Ellis-Marseglia and Bob Harvie, Bucks County Solicitor Joe Khan, and Steve Miano, counsel representing the Democratic senators in Yaw v. DRBC.

“The Delaware River Basin is home to 5 million Pennsylvanians who are guaranteed the right to clean, safe drinking water through the Environmental Rights Amendment to the state Constitution,” said Santarsiero.

“We are not just here for ourselves; we are here to prepare the world for future generations,” said Ellis-Marseglia, chair of the Bucks County commissioners. “Natural resources, including the river, need not be destroyed for our grandchildren and their grandchildren by selfish covetous acts in 2021.”

“The Delaware River has been the lifeblood of Bucks County since the arrival of William Penn. It’s impossible to overstate its importance to the history, economy and culture of our county. We need to do all we can to protect it,” said Commissioner Bob Harvie.

Sen. Santarsiero also shared that the Senate Democrats today filed their motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ suit, in which they have sought to overturn the Delaware River Basin Commission’s now-permanent ban on fracking in the Delaware Basin.

“The DRBC has continued its steadfast commitment to protecting the Delaware River Basin, as it was charged to do, and by doing so, has helped ensure our right as Pennsylvanians to clean water,” said Santarsiero. “Our position is strong, and I believe that constitutional right for all Pennsylvanians will be found to supersede the Republicans’ arguments for monetizing our natural resources.”

Montgomery County Commissioners Val Arkoosh and Kenneth Lawrence, who were unable to participate in the press conference, voiced their support in written statements.

“The quality of the Delaware River Basin watershed is critical to the health of 5.6 million Pennsylvanians, the sustainability of countless species, and local jobs,” said Dr. Arkoosh, chair. “This lawsuit stands to put our drinking water and economy at risk and it should be dismissed.”

Lawrence added, “Protecting the Delaware River Basin from fracking is vital to the preservation of more than 13,000 square miles of drinking water that supplies the Delaware River and its tributaries.”

The Democratic senators’ motion to intervene in the lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and was granted on March 19, 2021.

PennFuture, Clean Air Council, and the Widener University Commonwealth Law School’s Environmental Law and Sustainability Center filed a “friend of the court” amici curiae brief with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in the case of Yaw v. DRBC.

Specifically, amici oppose ongoing efforts by Pennsylvania Senate Republicans, local municipalities and others to challenge the Delaware River Basin Commission’s Feb. 25, ban on fracking within the watershed. The amici brief focuses on the Environmental Rights Amendment, which recognizes a public right to have the Commonwealth conserve and maintain public natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations.


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