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Judge Allows Delaware Riverkeeper Network to Intervene In Lawsuit to Protect DRBC Drilling Moratorium

U.S. District Court Judge Robert D. Mariani granted the Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s motion to intervene in a legal action filed by the Wayne Land and Mineral Group (WLMG) against the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC). The intervention seeks to overturn the moratorium against shale gas extraction in the Delaware River Watershed. The case was filed on May 17, 2016, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania and challenges the legal authority of the DRBC to regulate shale gas well pads within the boundaries of the Delaware River Watershed. WLMG had opposed the Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s motion to intervene in the lawsuit in order to defend the moratorium and the DRBC’s right to institute and maintain it. 

“The Delaware River and its watershed are a vital resource for the four states of our region,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and leader of the regional nonprofit organization, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. “Given the clearly demonstrated devastating impacts of drilling and fracking for gas, the DRBC’s authority over shale gas extraction is legally clear and strong.” In his ruling granting intervention, Judge Mariani noted that the Delaware River Keeper Network: 

  • “has demonstrated a sufficient interest and ‘significantly protectable’ legal interest in this litigation”;
  • “has demonstrated that its interests may be impaired by the disposition of the action”; and 
  • “has interests that may conflict with those of the DRBC and therefore “DRBC’s representation of the DRN’s interest in this litigation may be inadequate.” 

“It is important that the Delaware Riverkeeper Network was granted the right to intervene so we can ensure the healthy, safety and interests of the public and the natural resources of our watershed are fully protected and defended and that our rights to clean water and a healthy environment are not made subservient to other interests WLMG is seeking to advance or that the DRBC might seek to advance instead,” said van Rossum. 

The case filed by WLMG challenges the legal authority of the DRBC to implement a moratorium on shale gas extraction within the Delaware River Watershed while it decides how or if the quality of the Delaware River, a drinking water supply for 17 million people and an economic driver for the region, can be protected if drilling, fracking and all its associated activities are permitted by the DRBC. The case was filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania on May 17, 2016 by the Wayne Land and Mineral Group.