TRENTON – One of the state’s leading environmentalists believes the fact a vote on ending the moratorium on a controversial form of gas drilling exploration has again been postponed bodes well for their cause.
Maya von Rossum of Delaware Riverkeeper said this morning that the third vote postponement – and the fact no new vote has been scheduled – means “there is a really significant difference of opinion among the commissioners.’’
The Delaware River Basin Commission last week put off a vote scheduled for today at the War Memorial here on whether to lift a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, sometimes referred to as ‘fracking.’
Environmentalists, who argue the process poses extensive threats to clean drinking water, did not cancel a rally planned for today that is scheduled to feature activists such as celebrities Debra Winger and Mark Ruffalo as well as other environmental organizations.
“We have a real shot at stopping hydraulic fracturing from ever happening,’’ von Rossum said.
She acknowledged that although it may be more of a feeling or instinct than anything else, she said the continued delays on the Commission’s part indicate there are concerns and that some commissioners are wavering.
The five-member Commission includes New Jersey, Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania as well as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Commission oversees a 13,000-square-mile region that affects the drinking water of 15 million people.
Von Rossum said Del. Gov. Jack Markell has expressed a desire for more science on the practice, and she believes that the Army Corps of Engineers also is uncertain.
An Army Corps spokesperson contacted last week said they would have no comment on the postponement of the vote, and stressed that their organization represents other federal agencies at the Commission, not just the Engineers.
Von Rossum also expressed hope that Gov. Chris Christie’s vote is in play. Some environmentalists in the past have said they feel the New Jersey vote will prove to be the swing vote on the issue.
Although they expected a greater turnout if the vote had still been held, von Rossum said they still anticipate hundreds of people to show up.