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Taking action on the climate

Delaware River Basin Commission holds in-person meeting

Alex Kielar
Posted 6/11/24

NARROWSBURG — The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) held its second-quarter public business meeting on Wednesday, June 5 at the Tusten Theater in Narrowsburg. Most DRBC meetings are now …

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Taking action on the climate

Delaware River Basin Commission holds in-person meeting


NARROWSBURG — The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) held its second-quarter public business meeting on Wednesday, June 5 at the Tusten Theater in Narrowsburg. Most DRBC meetings are now virtual, but this latest one was in-person, which allowed for community members to make themselves seen and heard. 

Members of the public and representatives of the Delaware River Frack Ban Coalition (DRFBC) and Damascus Citizens for Sustainability (DCS) called for climate action at the meeting.

Prior to the DRBC meeting, the DRFBC and DCS held a press conference at the Narrowsburg Union at 7 Erie Ave. Representatives of the Upper Delaware River spoke on issues connected to the climate and DRBC decisions that impact the climate crisis. 

“We want the Delaware River Basin Commission to consider climate impacts on every single permit decision they make,” said Deputy Director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Tracy Carluccio. “We want them to say whether or not a project they’re going to vote on, and presumably approve, is going to worsen climate change impacts or is it going to help bring us back from the brink of disaster?” 

Associate Director of Catskill Mountainkeeper, Wes Gillingham, spoke about how decisions made in the past have impacted the climate in various ways. Gillingham also showed three maps, one showing major proposed developments across Sullivan County that are taking over the landscape, another showing the water resources and how the developments are right on top of the New York State aquifer, and a third showing the developments and the environmental justice areas that New York State has, identified because of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. 

“Whether you’re a homeowner, you’re fixing the roof from an insane hailstorm last week or whatever else,” Gillingham said, “you’re making decisions every single day about how to deal and adapt to climate change. The Delaware River Basin Commission needs to do the exact same thing with everything they’re tasked for, every single docket and every single proposal they evaluate.”

Anneke van Rossum, the Advocacy and Policy Coordinator with the Delaware River Keeper Network spoke on the proposed Camp FIMFO project - which stands for Fun is More Fun Outside. 

“When I kayak down our river, I see all sorts of people enjoying it,” van Rossum said. “I see people of different ages, different backgrounds, different ethnicities and different religions enjoying everything from camping to swimming to even playing soft music and dancing along the river banks. 

“While I would say many consider this the top tier level of outdoor fun,” van Rossum continued, “apparently to some the only way we can be certain fun is more fun outside…is if we pound down our land, strip the trees, put in RV cabins and take kids out of the river and give them a water slide.”

Following the press conference, the DRFBCAC led a march to Tusten Theater for the DRBC meeting. Several people involved in the march held signs reading different messages regarding climate change which included calling for the DRBC to take climate action, “our future is water” and opposing the Camp FIMFO project. 

During the business meeting, a resolution was on the table that would direct staff to develop a Climate Resilience Plan that includes elements related to planning, consultation, outreach, education and rule-making concerning climate change. 

Deputy Director of the DRBC, Kristen Bowman Kavanagh, explained the resolution. She said that five submissions of public comment were received from three different organizations - the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Environment New Jersey and Damascus Citizens for Sustainability during a public comment period from April 26 through May 13. 

One of the major themes of the comments explained by Kavanagh was for the resilience plan to focus on prevention, particularly on prevention of greenhouse gas emissions - which Carluccio described in the earlier press conference. Carluccio was wearing a sticker with the letters “LNG” crossed out, which showed her disproval for Liquefied Natural Gas, as the DRBC approved a project for an LNG Export Terminal that would increase greenhouse gas emissions. 

“What all the climate scientists are telling us is that we must drastically ratchet back our greenhouse gas emissions if we are going to avoid climate catastrophe,” Carluccio said in the press conference. 

Some of the public comments Kavanagh explained requested that the DRBC consider denying any applications for projects that would increase greenhouse gas emissions which would negatively impact water resources.

Kavanagh also provided the comment response from the DRBC and said the resolution would authorize the Executive Director to develop a climate resilience plan that includes a list of priorized actions for the DRBC to take for evaluating the impacts of climate change on water resources at the basin. 

“The resolution itself is not the appropriate instrument to address a substance of potential future climate resilience,” said Kavanagh.

She said the resolution meets the intended needs of the commission and has not been revised from the draft presented to the public, but the public will have an opportunity in the future to comment on any proposed rolemaking or modification of the comprehensive plan. The resolution as stated was approved unanimously. 

After the adjournment of the public business meeting, the basin commission opened it up for an open public comment session in which 17 pre-registered members of the public commented on several different issues related to climate action, the Delaware River, fracking and protecting water resources. 



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