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Safe and Healthy Delaware River

Sign this Letter of Support  

We invite you to sign this letter of support for our Safe and Healthy Delaware River petition  to the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC). This petition will secure increased protections for those that enjoy swimming and recreating on the  Philadelphia and Camden reach of the Delaware River in ways that bring them into direct contact with the water.


All sections of the Delaware River are enjoyed in ways that bring people, including children, into direct contact with the water. While most sections of the River enjoy designations and regulations that protect primary contact recreation (things like swimming and kayaking), the stretch from the mouth of the Pompeston Creek down to the Commodore Barry Bridge (in short, the Philadelphia-Camden reach of the River), does not. By signing this letter of support for  our Safe & Healthy Delaware River petition, you can help us convince the Delaware River Basin Commission, as well as the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey that our urban River and its users are entitled to just as much protection, now and into the future, as the rest of the River. The map below shows stretch of the Delaware River in question:

Today, people enjoy our beautiful river in many ways that bring them into direct contact with the water, what is known as primary contact recreation, such as kayaking, swimming  and tubing. The regulations currently upheld by the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), Pennsylvania and New Jersey fail to recognize that these primary contact recreation uses take place frequently on the Delaware River along Philadelphia and Camden. As a result, the current water quality standards cannot be relied upon to sufficiently protect the health and safety of individuals, children and families who enjoy primary contact recreation activities on this stretch of the Delaware River.

Our Petition

Our petition calls upon DRBC and the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania to recognize primary contact recreation as a designated use for this section of the Delaware River in order to conform with the mandates of the Clean Water Act as well as to modify the water quality standards to better protect the health and safety of those who participate in activities on the river that involve direct contact with the water.

It is important for those of us who enjoy the River today, and those whowill enjoy the River for generations to come, to know that the DRBC and other agencies have put in place regulatory protections that will ensure the healthy water quality necessary to fully support ongoing recreational uses of the river, including those that put us in direct contact with the water.

If you would like to sign on in support of locking in the environmental successes we have achieved to date, and helping to make more progress that will make our Delaware River even safer for those who enjoy the water in our urban reaches, please sign this letter of support for our Safe & Healthy Delaware Petition.

 You can read the full petition here.

In summary, the petition requests:

“…the Delaware River Basin Commission promptly upgrade the designated use of  Zone 3 and River Miles 95.0 to 81.8 of Zone 4 of the Delaware Estuary to include primary contact recreation. Zone 3 and Upper Zone 4 are currently designated only for secondary contact recreation. This designation is inconsistent with the existing uses of these portions of the Delaware River. A designation that includes primary contact recreation is needed to bring DRBC into conformance with the mandates of the Clean Water Act, thereby avoiding state, federal and/or interstate conflicts over the designated and existing uses of these Delaware River waters, and protecting those recreating on and in this portion of the Delaware River. Recognizing the existing use of primary contact recreation will ensure the DRBC and the member states prioritize putting in place, and enforcing, the standards and protections essential for those who are enjoying these reaches of the River for primary contact recreation. 

Petitioners are organizations that serve communities who live, work, and recreate in the Delaware River Watershed and have a strong interest in seeing the public’s uses of the River protected. Petitioners share a common interest in promoting the health and enjoyment of the Delaware River for the benefit of the public. Upgrading the designated use of Zone 3 and Upper Zone 4 of the Delaware Estuary to reflect the full array of their existing recreational uses, including primary contact, is necessary to protect the communities we serve and the health of the waterways our members rely on.”                                                              

Our Safe and Healthy Delaware River Petition and the supporting efforts of our Coalition of partners seeks to ensure that water quality standards governing the river provide protections to those that come into direct contact with the water during recreational activities.  According to the petition, the identified river reaches are heavily used in ways that bring people into direct contact with the water, including children. As a result, according to the environmental petitioners, the DRBC and the states should modify the existing legally designated uses to reflect the actual existing uses of the river. This action, the petitioners contend, is needed in order to ensure those recreating on the river receive the proper level of protection from pollution now and into the future.

A valued public resource

“The Delaware River is a valued public resource, it is a resource that belongs to the people.  Communities should be able to enjoy swimming, fishing, boating and utilizing the River for recreation knowing that our government officials are recognizing these uses and ensuring they are protected under the law for both present and future generations,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.  “We know that communities throughout the region are right now enjoying the River in ways that bring them into direct contact with the water.  All we are asking is for the DRBC to recognize this use and to ensure that standards are in place that are ensuring the ongoing protection of these uses.  All of the other reaches of the mainstem are protected for primary contact recreation, the urban reaches should be protected too.”

“Upgrading the water quality standards for this section of the Delaware River will not only make the river safer for the many people who recreate there now, but would represent a broader win for the health and safety of the public and the environment for generations to come,” saidJoe Minott, Executive Director of the Clean Air Council.

 “The Clean Water Act requires that our waters be protected for the way that people actually use them,” said PennFuture president and CEO Jacquelyn Bonomo. “This petition presents clear evidence and support that the community actually uses the urban sections of the Delaware River for things like swimming, tubing, and jet skiing. Because these uses put people, including children, in direct contact with the water, it is imperative that the DRBC and the states protect the water quality of this section of the river for primary contact. Ensuring the safety of our communities to use these waters for primary contact recreation is the legal responsibility of the DRBC.”

“The transformation of the lower Delaware River over the last 50 years is a direct testament to the power of the Clean Water Act to clean up our waterways. Yet the Act’s original vision to protect waterways based on how the public uses them isn’t being fulfilled in the lower Delaware – and that’s why the DRBC should act to meet the vision of the Clean Water Act,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “As water quality has improved along the Lower Delaware, the public is voting with their feet and their bodies – people are recreating in the Delaware. As our cities and river towns revive and access to the water is seen as a premium, the DRBC should protect the lower Delaware River for primary contact. The Delaware River should not be treated as a regulatory mixing zone – it is the people’s river and the DRBC should protect it for all recreational uses based on the Clean Water Act.”

The petition seeks to secure higher protections from River Mile 108, near the mouth of the Pompeston Creek, down to river mile 81.8, near the Commodore Barry Bridge – currently this reach of River is designated only for secondary contact recreation.  According to the petition, because this reach of river is heavily used in ways that bring people in direct contact with the water, the DRBC is legally obligated to recognize the primary contact uses and put in place higher standards that ensure protection of human health.  Survey results and data included in the petition demonstrate that the affected reach of the river is used for swimming, snorkeling, tubing, and jet skiing; it is also used by a wide variety of organizations such as the health and wellness organization Aqua Vida for paddleboard yoga, acro and fitness classes; and educational organizations such as Urban Promise that brings young people to the river for kayaking who, given their inexperience in paddling, do come into direct contact in the water.

“The Delaware River is an iconic part of the region’s natural heritage where visitors from throughout the Mid Atlantic and across the nation come to boat, fish, swim, hike and recreate, ” noted PennEnvironment Executive Director David Masur. “The action we’re taking today is a crucial step to ensure that we can restore and protect the Delaware River now and for future generations.”

“Our right to clean water has been denied since the industrial era. Although our water policies helped to improve some of the most egregious forms of pollution it has not gone far enough to clean up our shared resource. With the latest technology and science there is no reason why we can’t clean up the Delaware River,” said Jaclyn Rhoads, President of the Darby Creek Valley Association.

The petition explains that “secondary contact” recreation refers to activities where the probability of significant contact or water ingestion is minimal – according to federal regulation this includes things like boating and activities where people are expected to have limited contact with surface waters such as fishing from the shoreline. “Primary contact” recreation includes activities where people engage, or are likely to engage, in activities that could result in ingestion of, or immersion in, water, such as swimming and water-skiing.

“We strongly support the initiatives laid out in this petition. A stronger designation for these portions of the Delaware Estuary will ensure the water quality is optimal for recreational use. On-water organizations such as ours highly value clean water as we want our audiences to have the safest, most enjoyable river experience possible,” said Rupika Ketu, Environmental Program Coordinator for Glen Foerd on the Delaware.

The petition closes by urging: “Failure to recognize and protect the primary contact recreation uses taking place in the River today puts the health and safety of our River communities and river users at risk. The DRBC has the authority to initiate the necessary changes to accurately reflect the uses and activities that are actually taking place in the Delaware Estuary and in so doing to protect the communities that enjoy and depend upon a healthy Delaware River, including in Zones 3 and Upper Zone 4.”

Pennsylvania’s Green Amendment For the Generations


Photo of Senator Franklin Kury & Maya van Rossum
Senator Franklin Kury & Maya van Rossum share a special moment.

March 2012, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Maya van Rossum the Delaware Riverkeeper, seven municipalities, and Dr. Mehernosh Khan filed legal action challenging Act 13, which was signed into law by Governor Corbett on February 14, 2012.  Act 13 amended the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act, and was, without a doubt, an incredible overreach and giveaway to the gas drilling industry. Supportive legislators are quick to acknowledge that the industry helped them write the legislation displacing local zoning and providing automatic waivers for the minimal environmental protections, are among the many giveaways the law provided.

The plaintiffs challenged the new law on the grounds that, amongst other things, violated Article 1, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution and endangered public health, natural resources, communities and the environment.

On December 19, 2013, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a final in the case Robinson Township, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, et al.  v. Commonwealth, 83 A.3d 901 (2013).  In the plurality opinion written by the Chief Justice of the Court, the justices vindicated the importance and power of the Environmental Rights Amendment of the Pennsylvania Constitution; it promised all generations of Pennsylvanians that they will benefit from pure water, clean air and a healthy environment, giving them the ability to defend that right in the courts if it is violated. While the amendment had been proposed by Senator Kury and added to the PA constitution in 1971, it was not until this legal challenge that the amendment was seriously considered by the PA Supreme Court.

In the wake of this victory, van Rossum researched constitutions across the nation and found only one other state had an amendment of this kind — what she has dubbed a Green Amendment.  Based on this victory and that realization, van Rossum founded the national Green Amendment movement.

The battle to fully define and defend the environmental rights of the People of Pennsylvania continues with important and incremental successes advancing each year.

Important court opinions that continue to advance the right in PA  include:

In addition, we are starting to see government officials rely upon the Pennsylvania Green Amendment, Art 1, Sect 27, in decision making.  A great case in point is the decision by Governor Wolf to veto a bill that would have curbed the right of towns and cities to regulate use of plastic shopping bags – when announcing the veto the Governor said that its passage would have violated the Environmental Rights Amendment of the PA Constitution.

Article 1 Section 27 Campaign:

 In January 2019, a coalition of organizations and individuals called the Better Path Coalition organized a campaign to claim this right and tell Harrisburg that it’s time to uphold PA’s Green Amendment and be the climate and environmental champions we need. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network, as a proud member of the newly formed Better Path Coalition, worked with our partners to organize events celebrating Article 1, Section 27 of the PA Constitution—a day of action on Sunday, 1/27 and a delivery of this petition to every office in the capitol on Monday, 1/28 with the help of the children whose futures are on the line.

The events focused on reminding Pennsylvania’s legislators of their constitutional duty to protect environmental rights.  The IPCC report on climate change released in 2018 is dire. We have just 12 years left to address climate change. Meanwhile, industries continue to pollute Pennsylvania’s communities in myriad ways and Pennsylvania’s legislators and governors continue to allow the mass expansion of fracking, a primary source of one of the most dangerous climate changing emissions – methane. Young people from elementary through college age were among those that took the podium and spoke up at a press conference held at the PA Capitol building. Dressed as Dr. Suess’ character The Lorax, these young people then delivered petitions to Governor Wolf and other lawmakers, urging them to uphold Article 1 Section 27, Pennsylvania’s Green Amendment.

Photo of children delivering the petition

The 9,000 petitions delivered demanded that our newly elected representatives and those who returned to Harrisburg uphold Pennsylvania’s Green Amendment, which happens to be one of only two Green Amendment’s in the country. We want elected officials who will lead on climate, take aggressive action against pollution and environmental degradation, and prevent new sources of pollution and degradation from damaging PA communities. The petition read:

You will serve during the period climate scientists agree is the last chance we have to act if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. You will also be charged with taking on threats to our water, air, and environment that have harmed our communities and natural resources, in some cases, for years.

Pennsylvania’s constitution contains the strongest environmental rights amendment in the country. Article 1, Section 27 says “The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.”

We call on every newly-elected official and every elected official who returns to Harrisburg in 2019 to fulfill their Constitutional obligation to uphold Article 1, Section 27 by taking aggressive action to address the urgent environmental and climate challenges that confront us and establishing policies that prevent new sources of pollution from entering the Commonwealth.

A panel discussion about PA’s Green Amendment was held the day before the rally. Hear Franklin Kury, the original author of Pennsylvania’s Green Amendment, as well as Jordan Yeager and Maya van Rossum who were key to the effort that brought it to legal life in 2013, talk about how PA’s Green Amendment came to pass and how it is making a difference today.

NEW UPDATE* December, 2020

The Board of Commissioners of Marple Township, PA voted unanimously to reject a proposed residential development plan that would clear-cut 89 acres of forest of the Don Guanella woods. The Don Guanella woods is a 178-acre forest that has provided many environmental, health and recreational benefits to Delaware County for years. The township Board of Commissioners knew they had an obligation to uphold Article 1 Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution and the environmental rights of the people of Pennsylvania.

In presenting his argument to reject the proposal, Board Member Michael Molinaro said:

     I look at this as a fiduciary duty because as township officials, we’re elected to do what’s best for our township. And I’ve listened to people, and I’ve heard what they said, and I’m not going to say anything different because we have a duty under I believe under Article 1 Section 27 of PA constitution to protect and preserve the Commonwealth’s natural resources…I personally believe this [Article 1 Section 27] trumps everything else, any code you may have, any by right you say you may have, anything else. This is the role of us as municipal government is to protect our natural resources as best we can, especially when there’s not that many left. I mean if you look at Delaware County, and you look at this area, this is it. This is the last little piece that we have, and we’re not, and I’m not, going to let houses be built on it. So I believe this is our duty to protect these woodlands for not only us, not only Delaware County, PA, but also for future generations, so they can look back and say, ‘You know, this board stood up to this builder, and they did what was right.’



For the most up to date information, please visit the Green Amendments For The Generations

New York’s Green Amendment For The Generations

October 12, 2022
The Environmental Rights Amendment: By and For New Yorkers

The passage of the Environmental Rights Amendment (New York’s “Green Amendment”) is great news for all New Yorkers, especially environmental justice communities and the wider climate justice movement. This presentation discusses the ERA and how we can collectively advance and strengthen its protections, focusing on the role of community and advocacy in this work.


  • Prof Rebecca Bratspies, CUNY SChool of Law
  • Anthony Rogers-Wright, New York Lawers for the Public Interest
  • Maya van Rossum, Green Amendment For The Generations
  • Michael Youhana, EarthJustice
  • Moderator: Kate Kurera, Environmental Advocates NY

September 2020
A New York Green Amendment: Balancing Power and Equity in EJ Communities:

A panel discussion moderated by Mike Harrington, Assistant Director, Tishman Environment and Design Center. Panelists Include:

  • Maya K. van Rossum, Founder, Green Amendments for the Generations
  • Eddie Bautista, Executive Director, New York City Environmental Justice Alliance
  • Kate Kurera, Deputy Director, Environmental Advocates NY
  • Christine Appah, Senior Staff Attorney, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest Environmental Justice Program

What is a Green Amendment?

Green Amendments are self executing provisions added to the Bill of Rights section of a constitution that recognize and protect the rights of all people – regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or income, including future generations – to pure water, clean air, a stable climate, and healthy environments.

What’s Happening in New York?

In 2017, Assemblyman Steve Englebright first proposed bill A6279, New York’s Green Amendment. A parallel provision has been proposed in the NY Senate by Senator David Carlucci. While the bill was solidly supported in the Assembly the Senate fell short. But two years later, in 2019, the bill was repurposed and began to advance.

On April 9, 2019, Green Amendments For the Generations, key New York lawmakers and a coalition of groups announced plans to push for approval of a Green Amendment Bill by the New York legislature. Watch the press conference here.

As of April 30, 2019 the New York legislators, in both the state Assembly and Senate, voted for first passage of a proposed amendment to the NY State Constitution (A2064/S2072) that would recognize and protect the inalienable right to clean water, clean air and a healthful environment. The vote count was overwhelmingly in support of passage with senators voting for passage 45 to 17 and the Assembly members voting 110-34.  90 organizations have signed on to a letter in support of the first passage.

As of February 9, 2021 both the New York State Senate and Assembly voted to add a Green Amendment (A1368/S528) to the state constitution. The NYS Senate voted 48-14 for second passage and the NYS Assembly voted 124-25 for second passage. The bill will be placed on the New York state ballot for the people to vote upon in November.

While for years there have been provisions discussing various environmental issues in Article XIV, the provisions do not have the high level strength needed to recognize the inherent and indefeasible rights of people to a healthy environment and to provide those rights the same level of protection given to the right to free speech, to freedom of religion and other fundamental rights the people of New York hold dear. But New York is poised to remedy that with its Green Amendment proposal.

Who Are Our NY Partners?

Green Amendments For The Generations has been working with the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Environmental Advocates NY, and the NY Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club to support constitutional level protection for environmental rights in New York’s constitution.

Catch up on our New York Green Amendment Virtual Events

Our Three Part Webinar Series:

Resources to help you learn more and spread the word.

Find lots of fact sheets, webinars, and more at our Green Amendments For The Generations resources page.


New Jersey’s Green Amendment For The Generations

What is a Green Amendment?

Green Amendments are self executing provisions added to the bill of rights section of a constitution that recognize and protect the rights of all people. regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or income, including future generations, to pure water, clean air, a stable climate, and healthy environments.

What’s Happening in New Jersey?

In 2020 the proposed Green Amendment bills ACR80/SCR30 (formerly ACR85/SCR134) were re-introduced to the New Jersey legislature.

As of October 2020, the proposed NJ Green Amendment has 43 sponsors in the Assembly and 12 sponsors in the Senate. Click here to see if your legislator is signed on! If they have not, consider reaching out to them and sharing your opinion on this powerful environmental protection idea.

As proposed the New Jersey environmental rights amendment would read as follows:

  1. Every person has a right to a clean and healthy environment, including pure water, clean air, and ecologically healthy habitats, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic qualities of the environment. The State shall not infringe upon these rights, by action or inaction.
  2. The State’s public natural resources, among them its waters, air, flora, fauna, climate, and public lands, are the common property of all the people, including both present and future generations. The State shall serve as trustee of these resources, and shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all people.
  3. This paragraph and the rights stated herein are (1) self-executing, and (2) shall be in addition to any rights conferred by the public trust doctrine or common law.

On the Senate side there is bi-partisan support. Senator Linda Greenstein (D-14) has led the charge and been joined by Senator Kip Bateman (R-16) to advance SCR30. On October 15, 2018, a bipartisan super-majority of the Senate Environment Committee passed SCR134. If you are interested to learn more about the impact of the proposed NJ Green Amendment, you can view the hearing at this link – the testimony was interesting, insightful and educational.

On the Assembly side, Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin is joined by Assemblyman John McKeon and Assemblyman Daniel Benson as the primary sponsors of ACR80.

View all the sponsors of the bill here.

How and When did this all start in the great state of New Jersey?

November 30, 2017, New Jersey Assemblyman Tim Eustace, joined by Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, Assemblywoman Pinkin and Assemblywoman Sumpter, announced new legislation that, if passed, would amend Article 1 of the state constitution to recognize that “Every person has a right to a clean and healthy environment….”, that the State has a duty to serve as trustee of the state’s natural resources, and must conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all people. Since its original proposal there has been significant forward progress.

You can also help us demonstrate support for passage of a New Jersey Green Amendment by signing the petition today and be sure to share it with your friends. Read the petition and sign on here.

Delaware’s Green Amendment For The Generations


At our October 5, 2019 event, co-sponsored by our partners Sussex Health and Environmental Network (SHEN), Socially Responsible Agriculture Project (SRAP), and Green Amendments For The Generations, and where we were joined by our other active partner the Delaware Audubon Society, it became overwhelmingly clear that the people of Delaware see the value and importance of having a DE Green Amendment.

The Campaign

Photo of mother and child at the beach

The campaign is beginning with the grassroots, informing communities about the benefits of a Green Amendment and collecting petition signatures to demonstrate to that a Green Amendment is widely supported by the public.  As our coalition, development and movement in the state grows there will be more opportunities to learn and get involved.

While our planned gathering for the spring got derailed by the pandemic, we are reassessing the best next step to keep folks informed and engaged.

New Webinar Available: Socially Responsible Agriculture Project’s virtual summit on Agriculture, Engagement & Solutions featured Maya van Rossum for a session on the Green Amendment where she discussed why the rights to clean air and water matter.

Read the petition and sign on here and be sure to share it with your family and friends.

Take action to support a Delaware Green Amendment here.

For the Generations


For the Generations: Ensuring Constitutional-level environmental protections for healthy people and quality lives; for today’s generation and tomorrow’s. Our right to pure water, clean air and a healthy environment are inherent fundamental rights retained by the people. There can be no life, liberty or happiness without a healthy environment.

The Groundwork has Been Laid for a New Era of Environmental Protection:

While for years the Pennsylvania environmental community has looked to the promise of Pennsylvania’s constitution and its promise of “pure water”, “clean air” and “preservation of the natural … environment”, the fulfillment of that promise had for a long time alluded them; consistently swept aside by the Pennsylvania legislature and its courts. So much so that when the Delaware Riverkeeper Network included the PA Constitution’s Environmental Rights Amendment as a cornerstone of our legal attack on the pro-drilling legislation known as Act 13 many in the community derided us as wasting our limited legal briefing space and resources. 

IMG_0640.JPGBut, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in Robinson Township, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, v. Commonwealth (Dec. 19, 2013), vindicated the importance and power of the Environmental Rights Amendment of the Pennsylvania Constitution; it promised all generations of Pennsylvanians that they will benefit from pure water, clean air and a healthy environment, giving them the ability to defend that right in the courts if it is violated.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision should inspire a new generation of environmental protection in Pennsylvania – inspiring strong, environmentally protective legislation by newly emboldened and empowered legislators, and supporting strong litigation when industry dollars are used to drive bad legislation and bad political acts. The decision should also inspire other states, and even the federal government, to construct their own social contracts promising pure water, clean air and healthy environments for present and future generations.

A New Initiative

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network is establishing a new initiative, For the Generations, to: 

  • to ensure that the Pennsylvania Environmental Rights Amendment is further strengthened in the wake of the PA Supreme Court Decision; 
  •     to pursue and secure constitutional protection of environmental rights in states across the nation; 
  •     to pursue and secure recognition of environmental rights at the federal level through constitutional amendment; and 
  •     to ensure governments at the local level, state level, and federal level honor the rights of all people to pure water, clean air and healthy environments in the laws they enact, the decisions they make, and the actions they pursue.

If you would like to talk about how you can begin a movement in your state to secure meaningful constitutional environmental protections for present and future generations check out our resources on this page and reach out to the Delaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum (email at to talk about the situation in your state and how you can help make a change.

A copy of the Supreme Court decision Robinson Township, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, v. Commonwealth can be found here.

How Your Organization Can Partner Up:

Our win in the historic case of Robinson Twp, Delaware Riverkeeper Network vs. Commonwealth of PA not only secured substantive authority for the PA Environmental Rights Amendment, but it secured a declaration of the inherent and indefeasible nature of the rights to pure water, clean air and a healthy environment that should provide better protections for Pennsylvanians and Inspiration for other states to pursue these rights. 

How can we join forces to make it happen?

If you are an organization in Pennsylvania: We are at a critical stage now with this Supreme Court decision — it is important we are working together to advance advocacy and litigation that will strengthen the PA Supreme Court ruling and that will prevent the industry and the state from undermining it. Because future interpretations and applications of the PA Supreme Court decision Robinson Twp, Delaware Riverkeeper Network vs. Commonwealth will have statewide implications, including for the Delaware River watershed, and because the Delaware Riverkeeper Network played such a key role in securing this historic environmental win, we have created the Generations Project and are working with individuals and organizations throughout Pennsylvania to advance it through both advocacy and when appropriate through litigation. 

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network has a legal program that allows us to pursue these kinds of cases. But as with any legal action it is important we have strong local partners to help ensure we have participated in the process from early on, and we need members that are affected so as to support our legal standing in the courtroom. So if you are interested in joining forces with the Delaware Riverkeeper Network to advance the findings of Robinson Twp, Delaware Riverkeeper Network vs. Commonwealth consider signing your organization up as a member, and encourage your individual members to do so as well. 

As with all litigation where the Delaware Riverkeeper Network is a part and provides the legal resources, our organization will be a lead plaintiff in the case providing resources, experienced decision making, and a collaborative spirit. 

If your organization would like to join sign up here.

Be sure to sign up your local organization, and also to encourage your individual members to join, so we have all the representation we need to withstand the inevitable challenge by the industry to get the case dismissed attempting to assert we are not adversely impacted by the actions we are challenging. 

If you are an organization outside Pennsylvania:

If you are an organization outside Pennsylvania who would like to learn more about how to pursue and secure a successful Environmental Rights Amendment, to discuss legal strategy for advancing or replacing an existing constitutional provision, to be on the cutting edge of what we hope will be a growing nationwide movement to advance the cause of securing constitutional environmental rights for everyone in the nation and in so doing advancing the message that thesis a right for everyone in the world, then please contact Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper ( to joining the For the Generations movement. 


Delaware’s Green Amendment For The Generations

New Jersey’s Green Amendment For The Generations

New York’s Green Amendment For The Generations

Pennsylvania’s Green Amendment For the Generations

DRN & 7 Towns Challenge & Defeat Act 13


Act 13, also known as HB1950, was signed into law by Governor Corbett on February 14, 2012. 

Act 13 amended the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act, preempting municipal zoning of oil and gas development. It also established an impact fee on natural gas. 

The  Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Maya van Rossum in her capacity as the Delaware Riverkeeper, Dr. Mehernosh Khan, and seven municipalities filed suit on March 29, 2012 challenging the law on the grounds it violates the Pennsylvania and United States Constitutions and endangers public health, natural resources, communities and the environment. The municipalities participating are: Township of Robinson, Washington County; Township of Nockamixon, Bucks County; Township of South Fayette, Allegheny County; Peters Township, Washington County; Township of Cecil, Washington County; Mount Pleasant Township, Washington County; and the Borough of Yardley, Bucks County. 

The named Appellants are the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (“PUC”); Office of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania; and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”).

Oral argument was held before the PA supreme court on October 17, 2012.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued its decision on December 19, 2013. In that decision the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that Act 13 violates the Pennsylvania Constitution on the grounds that it violates the Environmental Rights Amendment. In doing so, the Court held that the right to pure water, clean air and a healthy environment are fundamental rights that must be given high-priority consideration and protection by every level of Pennsylvania’s government. The Court’s decision also struck down the shale gas industry’s effort to force every municipality in the state to allow gas drilling and related industrial operations in every zoning district. The Court’s decision upheld the ability of local governments to protect their local communities and natural resources through zoning. Chief Justice Castille authored the historic majority opinion. Justices Todd, McCaffrey and Baer joined in the result. 

Justices Castille, Todd, and McCaffrey held that provisions of the law violate Article I, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution – the Environmental Rights Amendment. Justice Castille stated that “we agree with the citizens that, as an exercise of the police power, Sections 3215(b)(4) and (d), 3303, and 3304 are incompatible with the Commonwealth’s duty as trustee of Pennsylvania’s public natural resources.” In discussing Section 3304’s uniform zoning provisions, Justices Castille, Todd, and McCaffrey agreed that the provisions “sanctioned a direct and harmful degradation of the environmental quality of life in these communities and zoning districts.” They also concluded that the Act forced some citizens to bear “heavier environmental and habitability burdens than others,” in violation of Section 27’s mandate that public trust resources be managed for the benefit of all the people. 

Justice Baer concurred in finding Act 13 unconstitutional, agreeing with the Commonwealth Court’s reasoning. Justice Baer stated that the provisions “force municipalities to enact zoning ordinances, which violate the substantive due process rights of their citizenries.” He further noted “Pennsylvania’s extreme diversity” in municipality size and topography and that zoning ordinances must “give consideration to the character of the municipality,” among other factors, which Act 13 did not.

The State requested the court reconsider its opinion and the  Delaware Riverkeeper Network and the seven towns opposed the request.

Chester PA: Penn America Energy Proposed LNG export project


Penn America Energy is proposing to build a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project in Chester, PA on the Delaware River. Their purported plan is to build an LNG processing plant, known as a “liquefier”, and a deepwater port terminal with a dock in the river at the location of the shuttered Ford Motor Assembly Plant at 800 W Front St. The LNG would be exported in enormous ships that would travel down the Delaware River, through the Delaware Bay and overseas to “Europe, Asia or Latin America”.1 The company says, “Natural gas will be sourced primarily from Pennsylvania given the proximity to the Utica and Marcellus shale fields”.2

The fracked gas is proposed to be transported from the shale fields by an Enbridge (formerly Spectra) natural gas pipeline. A new greenfields pipeline connector would need to be built from the location of the Eagle Compressor Station in Chester Springs through Chester and Delaware Counties for about 5 miles to the plant in Chester.

Submitted File Requests

DRN has submitted several file requests with various agencies to learn more about what Penn America is planning because much of the available information is out of date or very limited in detail. For instance, the owner of the Ford Motor Company site has stated publicly the property is not for sale and is already being used by other facilities.3

Other information from news articles and reports:

Ford Motor Assembly Plant Site is reportedly 100 acres.4

It is a $4 to $8 billion project.5

They plan to process up to 1 B cubic feet of gas per day.6

They plan to export 7 million metric tonnes of LNG each year.7

They plan to operate for 20 years: 2023-2043.8

The Greater Philadelphia Lateral Expansion pipeline:


About The Project

This Enbridge (formerly Spectra) pipeline project seems to be dormant. The website is outdated with an “in-service” date of 2019. Their open season was back in 2015. They would need to get easements for about 5 miles for a new connector pipeline of the existing market pipeline in Chester County. The Eagle Compressor, shown below on the map from the pipeline site, exist at 310 Fellowship Rd., Chester Springs, PA 19425. People have opposed it here.

Graphic shows map of the pipeline project
Map source

Political Maneuvering Behind the Scenes:

There is quite a bit of information in the copies of emails that were secured by WHYY through records requests, linked in WHYY article.9

The project’s plans lack public transparency. In a Feb. 23, 2021 email from Franc James to M. Doweary,10 Mr. James of Penn America stated that the Penn America LNG project had been “in development for the last 5+ years”.11

Yet, there has been no public discussion or public information available until the news articles were published in June 2022. The expose has sparked strong public opposition, as revealed in the WHYY article. The Chester environmental justice group, Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living (CRCQL) is a community organization dedicated for decades to protecting Chester residents from just this kind of environmental affront. Zulene Mayfield, founder of the group, has pledged to fight the project being located in Chester. Delaware Riverkeeper Network is also opposing the project.

We do know from the company’s economic report that they are behind schedule for all phases of the project.12 From the report:

2016-2019 Development phase

2019-2023 Build Phase

2023-2043 Operations (20-year life of project)

Stated they would pre-file with FERC in 2021 (then apply to FERC in 2022) but they have not done so.

Challenges at the Ford Motor Co. Site:

Evonik Chemical appears to use the dock that has navigation channel access (google satellite). The river would need to be dredged if a new dock were to be built for the proposed terminal to access the now-deepened navigation channel.

It appears that M and M Industries and Dee paper use parts of the old Ford Motor site (google satellite).

The Ford site is reportedly 100 acres, undersized for the facilities and storage that would be needed for such a project.

Here is a google satellite map of the Ford Motor Assembly Plant site on the river:

Graphic - google satellite map of the Ford Motor Assembly Plant site

Chester Is an Environmental Justice Community

One of the first communities in the United States to use the term “environmental justice”, Chester has been struggling with environmental injustice that is best described by the community organizations who are active in the City. See the website of the Chester environmental justice group, Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living (CRCQL). This is a community organization dedicated to protecting and empowering Chester and its residents to challenge a plethora of environmental burdens for decades. Founder Zulene Mayfield and the organization have pledged to fight the proposed LNG facility due to its inescapable dangers and polluting emissions that would add to the intolerable burdens from which they are already fighting to free their community.

The 2020 Census reports (From:,_Pennsylvania):

Population: 32,605 2020 Census


2020 census

Graphic with Chester city, Pennsylvania – Demographic Profile

Points About the Location on the Delaware River re. Ships

The ships that Penn America would use would likely be similar to the size of the ships that would use the LNG export dock (Dock 2) proposed for the Gibbstown LNG Export Terminal, across the river from Chester, about 1.9 miles north in New Jersey. These ships would be larger than any currently embarking from this far north on the river. In addition to other impacts associated with enormous vessels, these ships would have more explosive power should there be a release of the contents because they hold more product. One ship holds the equivalent energy of 69 Hiroshima bombs.13

Many permits would be needed for this type of project. So far, DRN file requests have resulted in no records located at PA DEP or DRBC. Other FOIAs and Right to Know Law requests submitted by DRN are pending.

Permits Needed Could Include:

  • U.S. Coast Guard
  • Army Corps of Engineers
  • Department of Energy
  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
  • Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
  • Delaware River Basin Commission
  • Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection – several permits needed depending on the site specifics (i.e. stormwater management) but these are key: Air Permit and perhaps Water Obstruction and Encroachment Permit.
  • Depending on the process they would use, may need: National Pollution Discharge and Elimination System permits (NPDES) discharge permits and water allocation permits from PADEP and DRBC.
  • May need municipal and county approvals.
  • Pipeline will need another set of permitting at various government levels/agencies.

Proximity to the Proposed Gibbstown LNG Export Terminal

The Ford Motor Assembly site in Chester is 1.94 miles from the proposed Gibbstown LNG Export Terminal (Dock 2) on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River.

A release of LNG to the atmosphere can impact a large area. When released, LNG, which is liquid methane, boils furiously into a flammable vapor cloud 620 times larger than the storage container. An unignited ground-hugging vapor cloud can move far distances,14 and exposure to the vapor can cause extreme freeze burns. If in an enclosed space, it asphyxiates, causing death.15 If ignited (ignition can be from a small spark or even the ignition switch on a car), the fire is inextinguishable. Fire companies are told to evacuate as quickly as possible and let it burn out on its own. A resulting pool fire is so hot that second degree burns can occur within 5 seconds for those exposed within .69 miles and 10 seconds of exposure could be fatal.16

An LNG release can cause a Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion.17 The explosive force of LNG is similar to a thermobaric explosion – a catastrophically powerful bomb. The 2016 US Emergency Response Guidebook advises fire chiefs initially to immediately evacuate the surrounding 1-mile area.18  No federal field research has shown how far the vapor cloud can move so in the most recent serious Plymouth, Washington LNG fire, emergency responders evacuated a 2-mile radius.19

Chester and Gibbstown are both within 2 miles of each other. An incident that releases LNG at one facility would impact the other, compounding the public safety risks for residents and the environment in both communities and the Delaware River. The threats posed by LNG being handled, processed, stored, transloaded, or transported at either site are unmitigatable due to the unique and far-reaching hazards of LNG.

Spillage of LNG into water presents a hazardous situation where the water quickly transfers heat to the liquid methane, causing it to expand with explosive speed that can result in damage to nearby structures.20 Explosion can occur and have a cascading effect as the vapor cloud moves downwind or along topographical features such as a tributary, ditch, tunnel, or human built structures, threatening public safety, human life and the environment. Accidents have occurred over the years across the globe that have had caused severe harm; some have had catastrophic effects. See: 

Proximity to the State of Delaware, where LNG terminals are banned

Chester is approximately 3 miles from the Delaware State Line. Delaware would be exposed to the hazards of LNG, both the public health and safety issues and the environmental impacts. The State of Delaware Administrative Code prohibits the development of liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals in the coastal zone in Delaware under current law.21 The Coastal Zone runs the length of the state, including all of the coast along the Delaware River and Bay. See:

The environmental impact statement that concluded that LNG terminals were too dangerous to allow in Delaware’s Coastal Management Zone stated that Wilmington was not an acceptable location because: “A recent study, for reasons discussed below, recommends that population near proposed sites be “zero or very low” density within a one-mile radius, and low within a 6-mile radius.”22 Chester’s population density far exceeds “low” at 32,565 people living within 4.8 square miles of land area.

The reference cited in the Delaware Coastal Management Program FEIS states that a study cited by the U.S. Congress’ Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) “…recommends that population near proposed [LNG terminal] sites be “zero or very low” density within a one-mile radius, and low within a 6-mile radius”23. The same report states, “There has never been a massive LNG spill on water. Estimated distance vary from less than one mile to more than 50 miles, depending on different assumptions. Work by the U. S. Bureau of Mines has indicated that a 25,000 cubic meter spill–the contents of one the cargo tanks in a big LNG tanker- – could produce a 1500 foot long plume, the major part of it is highly flammable. With stable weather conditions and a steady wind of about 7 miles an hour, the plume could theoretically travel some 19 to 38 miles according to the BLM study. More recent studies by the Coast Guard suggest that the impacted area would be from 1.25 to 3.2 miles under normal weather conditions and no more than 10.5 miles under extreme conditions.”24

Further justifications are detailed below in excerpts from the relevant documents:

From the Final EIS, Page 16 of the PDF25:

“Delaware’s CMP prohibition against the siting of L.N.G. facilities, deepwater ports and refineries might at first appear to disregard national interests for the sake of local concerns, yet a close examination reveals these facts:

(1) LNG facilities: The use of Delaware’s coastal strip for the siting of such a facility does not appear to be feasible because a number of siting criteria which must be met. Furthermore, the still undefined dangers associated with LNG facilities in areas of population density and the potential impacts of shipments on environmental resources, appear to outweigh benefits related to the potential energy supply.

(2) Deepwater Ports: Delaware CMP prohibits the siting of such ports in Delaware Bay for environmental reasons, (i.e., spillage, dredging and spoil disposal). This policy prefers instead the siting of Deepwater Ports offshore in the Atlantic provided they meet certain standards. These standards include but are not limited to:

a. Requiring location far enough offshore to minimize oil spill threats

b. Environmental Safeguards.”

From the Final EIS, page 16 of the PDF26:

“It is evident that many potential uses of Underwater Lands and the Coastal Strip may be incompatible with each other. In particular, heavy industrial uses and recreational pursuits, as well as other uses which rely on maintenance of the natural environment, cannot be accommodated near each other. The possibility of human error or equipment failure in the operation of certain facilities, such as LNG terminals or deepwater ports, poses grave risks in or near areas used for high density recreation, and relied upon by commercially important fish. Moreover, such facilities and certain heavy industrial uses not only threaten the fragile coastal environment directly, but also typically generate pressure for additional development with negative impact of its own. Finally, many “lighter” manufacturing activities are better suited in inland locations where the ecological, aesthetic, and other impacts are less severe.”

From the Final EIS, page 222 of PDF27:

“In 1973, the Federal Power Commission identified 19 potential LNG receiving areas based on at least some of the criteria discussed below. One of those areas was along the Delaware River, where several sites are in high gas demand areas and also near major transmission lines. Two New Jersey sites near the Delaware River not far from Philadelphia (oil refineries and power plants) were proposed. The Federal Power Commission’s environmental staff recently concluded, however, that there were “unacceptable risks” in carrying LNG by tanker up the crowded Delaware River, and recommended that approval be denied.”

Penn America announced they were going to submit their application for the LNG export project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in the last quarter of 2022. They did not. They have now announced they will file with FERC in the first quarter of 2023. As of January, nothing has been noticed in the FERC Docket from Penn America. Until we see the details regarding the project, we do not have critical information about the project that we need such as precise location, needed infrastructure, scale, etc.

Delaware Riverkeeper Network has filed numerous file review requests under state and federal laws for information regarding the Penn America LNG Project – the Right to Know Law in PA and Freedom of Information Act Law for federal agencies. Here are some recent revelations about the proposed project:

Recent items we have learned from Right to Know Law requests

  • The project may ship gas to Lithuania and Germany
  • The project would be designed/built by Bechtel Energy
  • Tellurian Energy is involved in an “evaluation process specific to citing Penn LNG in the City of Chester”
  • Penn LNG either met with or sought meetings with Senator Robert Casey, Ambassador Amy Gutmann (Germany), Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, and AFL-CIO leadership
  • Penn LNG plans on developing a public park adjacent to the terminal; they say they plan on funding community projects, such as a sports stadium, via a “Penn LNG Foundation”
  • Advisory Board includes former FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee
  • Penn LNG is seeking tax benefits per “Qualified Opportunity Zone” rules
  • Pipeline supply options to Chester include TETCO Philadelphia Lateral (includes adding compressor to Eagle Compressor Station, replacing a portion of the lateral with larger pipe, and creating about 5 miles of new pipeline), and/or Transco’s Marcus Hook lateral (includes 2,000 ft. new pipeline and upgrade diameter of existing lateral)
  • Penn LNG facility plans to have two storage tanks (2 x 160,000 square meters)
  • One LNG ship would export out of the terminal every 4 days
  • PA Department of Community and Economic Development, which, as we know, has met with Penn America for a period of time, wrongfully denied our Right to Know Law requests and we are currently in an administrative appeal process.
  • Chester City Right to Know Law requests have required an administrative appeal that resulted in DRN finally securing records, which are reported on in this update.
  • PHMSA wrongfully denied our Freedom of Information Act requests, DRN is in an appeal process.  
  • See recent slide presentations by DRN below for new maps and other information.

The Gas Industry’s Efforts

In 2022 the gas industry’s effort to build an LNG export terminal at Chester or in some other southeastern PA location took on new energy, fueled by the PA Legislature in support of fracking, fossil fuel development and market expansion. The Philadelphia LNG Task Force was formed with the passage by the Pennsylvania General Assembly of the PA LNG Export Task Force Act, signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf (see: The Task Force started up in January 2023 with a little known meeting of its members, named in the Act, held before the newly elected Representatives had been sworn in. This is important because a new Democratic majority was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives but the chairperson was elected by a vote of the members without the new House President’s appointee included because the meeting was held prior to the inauguration. The chair, Rep. Martina White, represents District 170 which includes portions of Philadelphia. She is the Republican Caucus secretary.

The Philadelphia LNG Task Force targets southeast Pennsylvania in the Delaware River Watershed as an “LNG export hub”, most specifically focusing on Chester, the only location where an LNG export terminal (Penn America Energy LLC) was being proposed. From the start, the Task Force displayed a lack of transparency, shutting out the very communities that would be exposed to the pollution and danger of an LNG processing plant and export terminal.

Representative Joe Hohenstein (District 177, serving Philadelphia County and the Delaware River Port region, was appointed to the Task Force in 2023 by the new Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives when the Democratic majority was seated. With practically no public notice, the first Task Force hearing was held on April 23 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Rep. Hohenstein held a press conference with community members outside of the hearing location to draw needed public attention to the little-known Task Force meeting (See Press Release under Supporting Documents). Rep. Hohenstein worked with community members to organize an effort to open the Task Force up to the public, inform the public of the hearing, and arrange for independent experts and community representatives to speak at the hearing instead of the Task Force’s hand-picked speakers, all of whom were biased towards LNG export. At the last minute, Chair White of the Task Force barred all the community and independent expert speakers that were slated to testify and the public was turned away from even entering the hearing room.

At the Task Force’s May hearing, Pennsylvania State Representative Carol Kazeem (District 159, serving Delaware County, including Chester, testified eloquently for her District, but members of the public or local community were not allowed to speak. Rep. Hohenstein arranged for a community-accessible hearing location for the Task Force’s August hearing.

DRN & Philadelphia Organizations

DRN, Philadelphia organizations, and community members from throughout the southeastern PA region worked with Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living (CRCQL) and their chairperson Zulene Mayfield, to mount a powerful unified public rebuke of the Task Force’s goals at the August hearing in Chester on the Widener University campus. Zulene Mayfield (see: ) and Stefan Roots, Chester City Council member and Democratic mayoral candidate for the City of Chester (and Chester City mayor as of January 3, 2024, see: spoke on the record before the Hearing Task Force for those that would be impacted by an LNG facility. A statement by Fermin Morales, a member of the Philadelphia community group Philly Boricuas and a union electrician for IBEW Local 98, was read into the record by Zulene Mayfield because he wasn’t available to attend.

The regional communities united and turned out in force at the public hearing; residents and community leaders filled the hall at Widener University to standing room only with a rambunctious rally beforehand in front of the meeting hall. A press conference was held after the Hearing by organizations from Southeastern PA with Pennsylvania State Representative Joseph Hohenstein, Pennsylvania State Representative and Chester resident Carol Kazeem, and people who testified or were supposed to testify – including Zulene Mayfield, Stefan Roots, Earl Wilson of the Eastwick Friends and Neighbors Association, Philadelphia and Shawmar Pitts of Philly Thrive, Philadelphia (see Press Release under Supporting Documents).

The effect of the united front against an LNG facility in Chester (or anywhere in the Delaware River ports) was clear – the Task Force could no longer claim they had community-level support. However, the Task Force continued to move ahead with its planning. The Task Force released their recommendation report on November 3 after it was approved at a Task Force public meeting livestreamed on YouTube. Representative Joe Hohenstein and Task Force member was the lone “no” vote on the Report (see DRN press release under Supporting Documents).

The Philadelphia LNG Export Task Force Report

In a press statement issued Nov. 3, DRN dismissed the Task Force Report as inaccurate, misleading, and an affront to Delaware River communities. DRN condemned the shocking and upfront biased omission of the testimony of impacted community members who testified at the LNG Task Force Hearings as insulting and a grave mistake. The report contained no mentions of or quotes from Pennsylvania Representative Carol Kazeem, who represents the District where the LNG terminal would most likely be located, community representative Zulene Mayfield of the Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living (CRCQL), or Chester City Councilman Stefan Roots. All three were invited speakers from Chester who presented testimony before the Task Force at their public hearings and all spoke on the record.

The Task Force Report neglected to address the public health and environmental impacts of such a terminal on residents of Chester or the larger southeastern PA communities that would be impacted or the substantial environmental impacts of an LNG facility and its required infrastructure on the Delaware River and Bay and on the ecological and natural resources of the southeastern PA region and its watershed.

DRN also faulted the Task Force Report for its poorly informed and unconvincing rationalization about why exporting LNG from the Delaware River Watershed would help war-torn European allies to get out from under the yoke of the burden of foreign energy dominance. There is no evidence that an LNG facility located in the Delaware River ports is needed, especially considering its “Johnny come lately” timing, that there is glut of LNG and other sources of natural gas globally, there is so much LNG already in development from other locations, and there is an active and well-planned movement away from imported fossil fuels and towards self-sustained renewable zero-carbon energy in Europe.

DRN pointed out that another obvious gaffe was the Report’s reliance on the old “natural gas is a transition fuel” rationalization for continuing to use dirty fracked gas regardless of the climate impacts. DRN considers the path to truly clean energy is not through expanding fracking and shale gas extraction but through the development of energy sources that do not emit greenhouse gases and that will measurably and dramatically help our nation and the world achieve the minimum goal of a 50% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, which scientists explain is urgently required and the need for a 100% zero-carbon renewable energy system by 2050 at the latest to address the climate crisis and protect communities already suffering the ravages of climate change and global warming.

Delaware Riverkeeper Network has heightened concerns that an LNG Export Terminal and the proposed MACH2 Hydrogen Hub are both being proposed for the same spaces, on top of the same already overburdened communities, targeting the Delaware River.

The Task Force report contained an extensively documented Minority Report authored by Rep. Joe Hohenstein that presented a compelling and fact-based conclusion and recommendation: “For all of the reasons stated above, we make the recommendation to the General Assembly against any further resources being committed to investigating an LNG facility in Philadelphia or elsewhere in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The sooner we recognize reality, the sooner we can take the steps we need to continue to secure Pennsylvania’s energy independence in ways that benefit all Pennsylvanians.” (see a copy of the Minority Report under Supporting Documents)

2024 Update

As of January 2024, no new actions have been taken to advance the development of an LNG facility and/or export terminal in Chester or any other location in southeastern PA. There has been no filing submitted by Penn America Energy with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as was promised by the company each year since 2022 and most recently was slated for 2024. This would be a first step towards building an LNG terminal. There has been no news announcements of funding or other support for the proposed Penn America project. DRN will continue to work shoulder to shoulder with CRCQL and the other engaged community groups in our broad network to block any attempt to build LNG export terminal(s) anywhere in the Delaware River Watershed.

For more information on Zulene Mayfield and CRCQL go here for the We Act story board:

U.S. Dept. of Energy’s LNG Export “PAUSE”

On January 26th, President Joe Biden announced a pause on approval of new liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from all U.S. ports. Specifically, the White House announced that U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) authorization of new LNG export projects are put on hold while the climate and community impacts of these projects are assessed by the agency during the public interest determination process. The pause applies to all new and pending applications for LNG exports to “non-Free Trade” countries. The President’s announcement read in part: “During this period, we will take a hard look at the impacts of LNG exports on energy costs, America’s energy security, and our environment. This pause on new LNG approvals sees the climate crisis for what it is: the existential threat of our time.”

Regarding the proposed Penn America LNG export facility, the LNG pause will prevent it from getting federal authorizations from DOE. This is because Penn America did not apply for authorization yet with Free Trade nations nor with non-Free Trade nations. Without DOE authorization, they cannot export LNG although they could begin the application and approval process with other agencies such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

The President’s announcement was welcomed by the local and regional community led by the Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living (CRCQL) founder and chairperson Zulene Mayfield, PA State Representatives Carol Kazeem and Joe Hohenstein, and Mayor Stefan Roots (see: In a follow up news article, Penn America CEO Franc James was quoted as saying “…he ‘pumped the brakes’ on the LNG project last summer after a tense public meeting…” but insisted that he still is planning to build the Chester LNG facility. But no applications have been filed with any agency yet and whether or not the company can raise the $7Billion they say they need is unclear. The Penn America website disappeared months ago without explanation. The company’s LinkedIn profile at Penn America Energy Holdings LLC mentions 2 employees but has very little other information.

The LNG “PAUSE” Continues

The next step with the LNG Export Pause is for DOE to issue a proposed rulemaking open to public comment that would lay out how DOE would carry out the public interest determination process regarding LNG export’s impacts as they consider applications for export to non-Free Trade countries. DRN and allies support that DOE must institute an assessment process that considers LNG’s full life cycle from cradle to grave, starting from fracking at extraction wells through the complete supply chain to end use. The analysis must consider environmental justice and energy justice implications and include the cumulative public health impacts, environmental impacts including climate and pollution impacts and costs, and economic impacts such as the price of domestic gas for consumers. DRN will be working to encourage wide and deep public participation in the DOE public rulemaking process.

The LNG Pause is temporary and politically fragile. There is bipartisan blowback, including from U.S. Senators Bob Casey and John Fetterman from Pennsylvania and Governor Shapiro stated he hoped that the “pause is limited”. Sixteen Republican Attorneys General have sued the Biden Administration to overturn it; bills have been introduced in Congress to stop it with the Pause becoming a potential bargaining chip in various political and government dealings.

DRN supports the Pause to be made permanent and for the LNG facilities now operating across the nation, including those concentrated on the Gulf Coast where most LNG is exported, to be stopped as our nation and the world move to truly clean, renewable and efficient energy sources that do not degrade or pollute our environment or quality of life, harm public health, or release greenhouse gases that heat the atmosphere and fuel the climate crisis.


[1] KPMG LLC, Penn America Energy, “Economic Impact Analysis (EIA): City of Chester LNG Project, Executive Summary, August, 2016”. P. 6.

[2] Id.

[3] Maykuth, Andy, “A proposed LNG Plant in Chester would be gigantic and hardly anyone knows about it”, Philadelphia Inquirer, , 6.16.2022.

[4] Kenny Cooper, Susan Phillips, ”Could Delco get a major LNG export terminal? How Biden’s plans to increase LNG exports could clash with its environmental justice goals in Chester”, June 14, 2022.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] KPMG LLC, Penn America Energy, “Economic Impact Analysis (EIA): City of Chester LNG Project, Executive Summary, August, 2016”. P. 5.

[9] Kenny Cooper, Susan Phillips,”Could Delco get a major LNG export terminal? How Biden’s plans to increase LNG exports could clash with its environmental justice goals in Chester”, June 14, 2022.

[10] NOTE about who M. Doweary is and his position: Michael Doweary – City of Chester “News for Immediate Release, July 1, 2020, Office of the Receiver for the City of Chester, Chester, PA – The Office of the Receiver for the City of Chester announces the appointment of Michael T. Doweary as the Receiver for the City of Chester, Pennsylvania. Secretary Dennis M. Davin with the Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) petitioned Commonwealth Court for the appointment of a Receiver for the City of Chester and on June 22, 2020, Judge J. Andrew Crompton with Commonwealth Court granted the Order making Mr. Doweary Receiver for the City of Chester.”

[11] Kenny Cooper, Susan Phillips,”Could Delco get a major LNG export terminal? How Biden’s plans to increase LNG exports could clash with its environmental justice goals in Chester”, June 14, 2022.

Specific cited paragraph: “As the Chief Executive Officer of Penn America Energy Holdings, the developer of the $5.6 billion energy project sited in the City of Chester, Pennsylvania, I am reaching out to you in my attempt to coordinate an appointment while I am in Harrisburg on Thursday, Feb 25th for several meetings. Understanding your critically important role as the appointed Receiver for the City of Chester, it is my hope to coordinate a discussion that will provide you visibility to the scope, magnitude, and timing of the project in development for the last 5+ years.”

[12] KPMG LLC, Penn America Energy, “Economic Impact Analysis (EIA): City of Chester LNG Project, Executive Summary, August, 2016”.

[13]  “After converting therms to tons of TNT, one LNG ship at Dock 2 equals 1,039,053 tons of TNT.

For comparison, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of the Second World War was the equivalent of 15,000 tons of TNT. This means that one LNG ship is equal to approximately 69 Hiroshima atomic bombs.” From: DRN Protest to FERC, available here.

[14] “Immediate ignition with liquid still on the ground could cause the spill to develop into a pool fire and present a radiant heat hazard. If there is no ignition source, the LNG will vaporize rapidly forming a cold gas cloud that is initially heavier than air, mixes with ambient air, spreads and is carried downwind.” P. 10 “Methane in vapor state can be an asphyxiant when it displaces oxygen in a confined space.” P. 11. SP 20534 Special Permit to transport LNG by rail in DOT-113C120W rail tank cars. Final Environmental Assessment. Docket No. PHMSA-2019-0100. December 5, 2019. P. 10.

[15] SP 20534 Special Permit to transport LNG by rail in DOT-113C120W rail tank cars. Final Environmental Assessment. Docket No. PHMSA-2019-0100. December 5, 2019. P, 11.

[16] “The Council on Environmental Quality describes the danger: The characteristics of these fires on water, like the behavior of vapor clouds, are subject to great uncertainties and estimates of the safe distance from their intense radiant heat vary significantly. According to a recent FPC (Federal Power Commission) analysis, a generally safe distance from a 25,000-cubic-meter pool fire would be about 8,300 feet or 1.6 miles. People standing 3,600 feet away would blister in 5 seconds, and exposure for longer times-perhaps 10 seconds — would be fatal. Estimates based on Bureau of Mines figures indicate that the danger might extend farther. According to these figures, on a windless day when thermal radiation is greatest, unsheltered people at a distance of 9,600 feet, or nearly 2 miles, could suffer fatal burns.” “DELAWARE COASTAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM AND FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT”. [From the U.S. Government Printing Office, ]. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Coastal Zone Management, *41T4 O74f. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, The Assistant Secretary for Science and Technology, Washington, D.C. 20230, JUL 2 1979.  P. 225 of PDF.

[17] “LNG tank BLEVE is possible in some transportation scenarios.” Sandia National Laboratories, “LNG Use and Safety Concerns (LNG export facility, refueling stations, marine/barge/ferry/rail/truck transport)”, Tom Blanchat, Mike Hightower, Anay Luketa. November 2014.  P. 23. 

[18] US DOT Emergency Response Guidebook.

[19] Powell, Tarika. Sightline. “Williams Companies Failed to Protect Employees in Plymouth LNG Explosion.” June 3, 2016.

[20] Rapid Phase Transitions of LNG illustrated at


[22] “DELAWARE COASTAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM AND FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT”. [From the U.S. Government Printing Office, ]. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Coastal Zone Management, *41T4 O74f. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, The Assistant Secretary for Science and Technology, Washington, D.C. 20230, JUL 2 1979. P. 223.

[23] Ibid, page 223 of PDF.

[24] Ibid, p. 224-224 of PDF.

[25] Ibid. P. 16.

[26] Ibid, p. 108.

[27] Ibid, p. 22.

Bishop Tube Toxic Site


The Bishop Tube Site is a former metals processing plant located in East Whiteland Township, PA.  The site is bordered by Little Valley Creek, a tributary to the exceptional value Valley Creek. Portions of the site are wooded.  As a result of the historic uses at the site it has been designated as a Brownfields site.

Photo of the 7.26.17 press conference

Groundwater, soil and surface water at the Site are contaminated with TCE, which is classified as a probable human carcinogen by the EPA, and related products.  TCE is a chlorinated solvent and one of the problematic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) identified at the site, first found in 1987.  TCE causes liver problems and an increased risk of cancer, among other health harms.  (, visited 2/18/17).

Photo of Bishop Tube Buildings in

Constitution Drive Partners, the current owner, is proposing a residential development at the site. The original plan was to cut the trees, alter the landscape and build over 200 residential townhomes. In the face of community and Delaware Riverkeeper Network opposition the developer has reduced his planned proposal but is continuing to advance development plans for the site despite its toxic condition.  The most recent proposal being submitted in the Fall, 2020 was for ~ 92 residential homes — while this is a decrease from the original footprint it is still a major threat to the community and Little Valley Creek both in terms of cleanup and enduring environmental harms.

The neighboring and downstream communities, and Delaware Riverkeeper Network oppose development of the site. We are joining together in calling for full remediation of the site at the expense of the known responsible parties (including Johnson Matthey and Whitaker Corporation), and that the natural woods, wetlands and creek be protected, and the property be preserved as natural open space.

Where Things Stand:

After years of community and Delaware Riverkeeper Network advocacy that began in 2017, multiple rounds of legal action, followed by robust community engagement and expert comment, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is finally enforcing the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act (HSCA) mandating site cleanup.  On September 12, 2022 the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued a Statement of Decision identifying the remediation plan it would require for cleanup of the toxins at the Bishop Tube Site.  

Of major continuing concern, Constitution Drive Partners, a developer, continues its pressure campaign to secure township approvals for development of the site, even before remediation begins and an assessment of its effectiveness is known. The Township seems sadly inclined to side with the developer rather than stand in defense of the residents who have been so severely impacted by the decades of toxic contamination.

In June, 2023, the developer submitted an application to secure Final Approval from the East Whiteland Township Supervisors to develop the site with residential homes.  In response, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and community opposition, submitted letters demanding the township deny the request and enforce the conditions it put in place when it wrongly granted preliminary approval to the developer in 2021. In addition to the failure of the project to have met the pre-conditions set by the township, the developer included misleading information in their application.  Not only did the Delaware Riverkeeper Network call out this misinforamtion, but so too did the Pennsylvania DEP.

On Tuesday, September 12, 2023, responding to a public demand for more information and an opportunity to ask questions and give comments on the plan, PADEP will host an in person public meeting to discuss the Site and the implementation of the remediation response action the state has selected.  The community is urging all who are interested to show up, listen and ask the hard questions that still are in need of answer.

  • Location: General Wayne Elementary School – Auditorium, 20 Devon Road, Malvern, PA 19355
  • Time: 6:30 pm -8:30 pm

There are many details for implementation of the remediation plan yet to be decided upon.  The proposed remediation plan continues to raise concerns for the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and the community regarding its effectiveness, including the failure to fully monitor and address critical issues such as known PFAS contamination.  The selection and advancement of remediation is far superior to the over 30 years of state neglect. 

  • To learn more about the concerns associated with the proposed remediation plan, Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s comment expressing legal, scientific and environmental concerns regarding the remdiation proposal put forth by the PA DEP can be found here.
  • Powerful comments were also submitted by the Valley Creek Trustee Council (a collaboration between the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and the National Park Service)

Background & Details:

The 13.7 acre Bishop Tube site (located in Chester County, PA, on the east side of Malin Road, south of US Route 30) has been abused by industry for over 50 years. The site, formerly used to process precious metals and fabricate tubing and pipeline products, is heavily contaminated with chlorinated solvents, acids and heavy metals. This contamination has impacted neighboring communities and the environment.Contaminants currently at the site include TCE, nitric and hydrofluoric acids; various oils; and other hazardous materials not properly handled or disposed of. Industrial operations began in 1951.  The plant closed in 1999.

Exceptional Value Stream
& Wetlands

While the site is dangerously contaminated, there is also beautiful nature worthy of saving.  Woodlands, wetlands and Little Valley Creek, part of the exceptional value Valley Creek watershed, grace the location as well.

Proposed development by Constitution Drive Partners, including ~ 92 new homes, would cut trees, damage the creek and wetlands.

Rather than continue the abuse, and destroy all the natural beauty of the site for a massive, oversized, development, the community wants the site contamination fully cleaned up by responsible parties and the site protected as natural open space. Protection will benefit all who live around the site in Frazer, Malvern and East Whiteland, and will benefit all who appreciate, enjoy, and live along Little Valley Creek, tributary to Valley Creek, the stream directly in jeopardy from the proposal.

Watch the documentary to learn of the community’s plight and its hard work to secure essential government protection. Documentary by Alex Djordjevic

Major Milestones in the Effort to Ensure Clean Up, Stop Development, and Secure Natural Open Space Protection. 

September 12, 2023, responding to a public demand for more information, PADEP hosts an in person public meeting to discuss the Site and the remediation response action the state has selected; the community will be given the opportunity to ask questions, get answers, and give input.  

August 2023, The community, Delaware Riverkeeper Network and the Pennsylvania DEP respond to the developer’s June 20, 2023 request for final development approval.  The Delaware Riverkeeper Network and community urge the township to reject the request.  Community concerns regarding the application materials submitted are bolstered by a Pennsylvania DEP letter to the Township.

September 12, 2022, Remediation Plan Selected and Advancing  After nearly 40 years of ignoring the site’s toxic condition and the ramifications for the environment and neighboring communities, PADEP selects a remediation plan for the site.

February 10, 2021  the East Whiteland Board of Supervisors grant preliminary approval of the proposal to build 92 homes on the highly contaminated Bishop Tube site without a remediation plan in place.  While the approval was a significant disappointment to the community, responding to public opposition, the Township Board of Supervisors includes numerous conditions that would have to be met before final approval or any development could be allowed.  In 2023, the community is now holding the supervisors accountable to honor these conditions prior to providing any final development approval.

October 21, 2021, Improved Public Engagement Opportunity Secured. Delaware Riverkeeper Network challenged the PADEP public comment process regarding its then proposed remedial response action as showing “callous disregard” for the community and urged a respectful process that supports full, fair and meaningful public comment & engagement. Read the Delaware Riverkeeper’s letter here.  Other members of the community joined in the call for DEP to overhaul the public comment process.  On October 26 Delaware Riverkeeper Network learned that significant changes were to be made with DEP agreeing to nearly an additional month for comment, 5 minutes for individuals to testify as opposed to 3, and a video to describe the remediation.    

September 29, 2020 —  DRN and the community submit comments and testify at multiple township meetings over the course of the Fall/Winter 2020-2021 to urge the Planning Commission and the Township Board of Supervisors to reject the developer’s plan given that there has been no substantive cleanup of the Site, the development proposal merely indicates the presence of contamination “to be remediated” by someone and at some undisclosed future time, the State has yet to approve a cleanup plan for the site leaving everyone in the dark as to what may or may not happen in terms of ongoing contamination, and as a result the health, safety, private property and public natural resources continue to be at risk.  You can review the Sept 29, 2020 comments DRN submitted on this matter to the Twp Planning commission here.

January 27, 2020  The Delaware Riverkeeper Network submits new comments regarding the Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study submitted to DEP. You can read the whole comment here.

September 27, 2019 — Delaware Riverkeeper Network submits new comments to the Township and PADEP.  The closing paragraph of the comment reads:

“Clearly, the Township cannot provide an approval for proposed development, and PADEP cannot provide an honest and supportable Feasibility Study Report review, based on this morass of inaccurate, inconsistent, undefined, undetermined, and wishful thinking assumptions and assertions.   It is time for the Township to reject the CDP development proposal and for PADEP to demand a defensible Feasibility analysis that is based on reality.”

 You can read the whole comment here.

Government Grant To Developer Defeated.

After learning that county government was proposing to give the developer a $1 million dollar grant to support their development of the toxic Bishop Tube site, the community organized in opposition. In response, the grant was never given.

August 14, 2019, the Township BOS approved a letter from O’Neill granting an extension of time to February 28, 2020 for the Township to act on the revised Preliminary Plan.

You can find information about the new development proposal on the township website at:

July 1, 2019 — PA DEP has posted the remediation investigation documents for public review.You can find them here.  

July 1, 2019 — The Delaware Riverkeeper Network continues to submit comments to the Township and other officials expressing concerns regarding the October 2018 CDP development proposal. Read here for the first set of comments, here for the second set, here for the third set.  If you would like to submit your own comment you can gather all the information to do so here.

April 29, 2019 — Delaware Riverkeeper Network Wins Challenge Over State Sweetheart Deal With Bishop Tube Site Developer.  Responding to a legal challenge filed by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board (EHB), in a rather scathing opinion, has ruled that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s approval of amendments to a Prospective Purchaser Agreement that would allow development of the highly contaminated Bishop Tube site located in East Whiteland, PA is “arbitrary and capricious” and therefore the agreements are void. View the rest of the press release and decision here.

May 7, 2019 — East Whiteland Open Space Advisory Committee Meeting.
Residents attend the an East Whiteland Open Space Advisory Committee meeting and urge that preservation and protection of the Bishop Tube site as natural open space for the benefit of the community be given highest priority in open space and township planning and investment. View the details here. 

October 9, 2018 — New plans for developing the bishop tube site were submitted.  The development is limited to the actual bishop tube manufacturing site and so the number of units is limited to what was originally proposed (or thereabouts) for this area.  The proposal is for ~ 93 units.  While this seems far less than the original 228 proposed, because we are talking about a significantly smaller area of land, in fact what is being proposed is comparable to what was proposed in the past.  While this is progress, it is not the victory the community will accept. Only full remediation and protection of the site as natural open space will satisfy the community and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and so the battle continues.  You can find copies of the land development submissions at:

Overview of Litigation Delaware Riverkeeper Network Has Advanced to Secure Cleanup and Protection of the Bishop Tube Site.

As of February, 2018, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network has pursued three legal actions regarding the Bishop Tube site:

  • February 21, 2018, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network filed an appeal with the Environmental Hearing Board challenging the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) ratification of two amended Prospective Purchaser Agreements (PPA) (which are settlement agreements) entered into with a proposed developer of the former Bishop Tube site, a highly contaminated site located in East Whiteland, PA.  The organization challenged the agency for being a rubber stamp on the deal that were not publicly noticed until 7 to 10 years after they were signed by the state.  The challenge asserted that the state failed to acknowledge critical changing facts, including that the DEP had voided key elements of the agreement which it chose not to disclose to the public, and that the anticipated development shifted from commercial to residential, but this too was not acknowledged by the state. In April 2019, the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board (EHB), in a rather scathing opinion, ruled that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s approval of amendments to the Prospective Purchaser Agreement that would allow development of the highly contaminated Bishop Tube site located in East Whiteland, PA is “arbitrary and capricious” and therefore the PPA agreements are void. Learn more here.  The developer has appealed the decision and so the case is ongoing.
  • November 8, 2017, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network filed a legal challenge against the Pennyslvania DEP for its “manifest neglect and dilatory conduct, over a period of seventeen or more years to clean up or cause the cleanup of past and present hazardous releases at the Bishop Tube Hazardous Waste Site (“Site”), which have caused contamination to spread off-Site, and impacting the off-Site groundwater quality, and to impact the Little Valley Creek, an Exceptional Value stream. The main contaminants of concern are Trichloroethylene (“TCE”) and other chlorinated Volatile Organic Compounds (“VOCs”) and metals.    These contaminants were released at this Hazardous Site and may continue to be released due to the malfeasance of the DEP and potentially responsible parties.”  The case is ongoing.  
  • The Delaware Riverkeeper Network submitted two Right to Know Requests to PADEP on February 23, 2017, and PADEP denied access to all responsive records, citing the internal predecisional deliberation exemption, the attorney-client privilege and the attorney work-product doctrine. On April 20, 2017, the organization appealed that decision.  On July 5, 2017 the Delaware Riverkeeper Network  received a favorable decision from Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records (OOR), who found that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) improperly withheld public records regarding the Bishop Tube site in East Whiteland/Malvern, PA.

Additional Updates:

 Click here to see video of residents speaking out in defense of their first amendment right to oppose development of, and demand full clean up, the Bishop Tube site.

June 7, 2017:  Click here for DRN Comment re PADEP deal with the developer

SLAPP Suit to Silence Community

  • June 27, 2017, Brian O’Neill and his corporate counterparts filed a SLAPP suit against the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Delaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum, a private citizen and threatened to include 10 additional residents as defendants.
  • On August 22, 2017 the SLAPP suit was quickly dismissed with the judge ruling:  “This is what we call constitutionally protected free speech under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Pennsylvania Constitution…”
  • September 22, 2017 Brian Oneill and his counterparts appealed the decision, once again misusing the law to try to threaten opposition to his plans for Bishop Tube.  September 6, 2018 the Pennsylvania Superior Court dismissed the appeal, finding no basis for overturning the case.  In a September 20, 2018 filing, O’Neill sought to have the court reconsider the decision.  
  • November 2, 2018 the Superior Court summarily rejected the request for reconsideration.

Effort to Secure EPA Documents

  • On July 28, 2020,Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN) filed an administrative appeal against the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 3 office (EPA) due to EPA’s failure to respond to DRN’s September 3, 2019 request for production of documents, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). DRN’s request sought the production of all records in the EPA’s possession regarding the Bishop Tube Site. Under FOIA law, the EPA is legally mandated to fully respond to a request for records within 20 working days from the date that the request was received, unless unusual or exceptional circumstances exist. DRN argued that EPA continuously delayed the full production of documents for 10-months without asserting that unusual or exceptional circumstances exist. DRN also argued that the partial production of documents submitted by EPA were not responsive to DRN’s request.
  • On August 18, 2020, EPA’s General Law Office granted DRN’s appeal regarding the request for EPA documents and stated that DRN’s request would be remanded to Region 3 to conduct an additional search and release the responsive documents to DRN.
More than 200 people showed up at a June 7 informational meeting to challenge the Pennsylvania DEP about the proposed development of the Bishop Tube site in East Whiteland Township. Residents are concerned about the proposed clean-up of toxic TCE at the formal industrial site. PADEP officials were also challenged by the Delaware Riverkeeper Network about details of the case that had not been released to the community

Recent Press:

Plan to Build Housing on Contamined Bishop Tube Site in Chester County Faces Major Setback, Phila Inquirer, 2019-04-29

Environmnetal group challenges decision on bishop tube site, Daily Local, 2018-02-22
DEP accused of neglecting cleanup of contaminated Chesco site, State Impact, 11/09/2017
Chester County Judge Issues Opinion on SLAPP Suit Dismissal (2017-10-24)  DRN Press Release, 10/24/2017
Community Protests Bishop Tube Site, Daily Local News, 10/14/2017
Judge throws out developer’s ‘SLAPP suit’ against environmental group, State Impact, 08/23/2017
Chesco advocates accuse developer of trying to muzzle free speech over toxic site, State Impact, 07/27/2017
Activists response to legal battle with developer at bishop tube site, Daily Local News, 07/26/2017
East Whiteland Officials Pull Support for $1 Million Development Grant, Daily Local News, 07/16/2017
Residents Pack East Whiteland Meeting to Oppose Bishop Tube Plan, Daily Local News, 06/9/2017
Chesco Residents Urge Officials to Reject Development Plan for Contaminated Site, State Impact, 04/25/2017
Foes: Don’t Develop Bishop Tube Site, Daily Local News, 04/21/2017
On Toxic Site Abandoned for Decades, Developer Sees Townshouses Sprouting in Chesco,, 04/10/2017


Concerned Residents 

In February 2012, ten concerned Eastwick residents met to discuss two recent home invasions that threatened the quality of life in their quiet Southwest Philadelphia community.  From that initial meeting, bimonthly meetings were quickly established where the group began to address a host of community concerns.  They contacted agencies responsible for tackling such issues as chronic illegal dumping, insufficient lighting at the local rail station and the need for increased policing in targeted areas.  The committee of ten also encouraged their neighbors to get involved and to become more aware of activity in the community that appeared questionable or suspicious.  
It was this increased vigilance that prompted one of those concerned residents to question surveying close to his home in late April.  Upon doing so, he learned that the area being surveyed was the location of a proposed one hundred million dollar residential development project, as well as potential expansion of the Philadelphia International Airport, all on  a 128-acre undeveloped parcel adjacent to John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge.  Further inquiry revealed that, unbeknownst to the community, Philadelphia City Council was poised to approve a rezoning bill on June 12th that would allow the developer to begin the 5-year project to build 722 apartments with parking lots to accommodate 1,034 vehicles—on 35 of the 128 acres, which is currently zoned for single-family homes and also partially designated by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) as a Special Flood Hazard Area. 

Stunned that such a massive, high-density project was about to take place on land currently serving as a natural barrier against flooding, the ten concerned residents quickly formed the Eastwick Action Committee (EAC), and joined with the Friends of Heinz Refuge (FOHR) to establish the Eastwick Friends & Neighbors Coalition (EFNC).  

Halting the Proposed Development 

EFNC immediately mounted strategies to halt the proposed development until the community could be fully apprised of the developer’s and the City’s plans.  EFNC’s goal was to ensure that no development in the targeted location would result in harm to current or future residents or to the habitat at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge.  EFNC swiftly gained the support of notable environmental groups including Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Keystone Conservation Trust and the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Sierra Club as well as pro bono legal representation by the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and Dechert LLC and the support and technical guidance of Penn Urban Studies Program.   The community was soon spurred into action, circulating a petition door-to-door, engaging the media with press releases, and mobilizing volunteers for next steps in the process to oppose the rezoning bill at the upcoming City Council hearing. 

On June 12, 2012 members and supporters of EFNC provided passionate and fact-based testimony that resulted in City Council tabling the proposed rezoning bill that would have given the developer’s project the green light.  On November 20, 2012, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, who had previously supported the proposal, pulled the rezoning bill, denying the developer’s request to rezone the 35 acres to build the massive apartment complex. Councilman Johnson stated that the community had spoken “loud and clear” and deserved a say in what happens in their community.
EFNC celebrates this victory with the understanding that the future remains uncertain for the 128-acre parcel.  Armed with this knowledge, EFNC has seized the opportunity to launch a comprehensive community education, engagement, and visioning process that will allow residents, business owners and stakeholders, who are open to new growth and development, but in a sustainable and ecologically responsible manner, an opportunity for meaningful and equitable dialogue and participation to ensure that when future development does occur residents are safe, localized and catastrophic flooding impacts are addressed, and environmentally sensitive lands, wildlife, and green spaces are protected. This community assessment report, which reflects the sentiments of 93% (244 of 250 qualifying Eastwick residents) who live in the area immediately adjacent to the 128-acre parcel, is just one step in that direction.