One of the most pressing environmental and health issues of our time is the proliferation of shale oil drilling, or as it is commonly known, fracking. For a must-see primer on the issue I suggest watching Gasland and Gasland 2.
Leading the charge in protecting local waters throughout New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, is Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper. Maya is the spokesperson for and leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN), a nonprofit environmental organization and vital force in the preservation, protection, and restoration of the Delaware River Watershed. She heads a team of dedicated staff and volunteers who monitor the river and advocate, educate, and litigate for protection, restoration, and change.
Van Rossum, who has led DRN for almost 20 years, is a powerful force in protecting the river against various threats, including shale fracking and drilling, dredging, dumping, pollution, and detrimental construction. She organizes concerned citizens, testifies before state and national governing bodies, overseas all litigation, and keeps a close watch on the Delaware River and all of its tributary streams. She often is out on the water herself, looking for signs of pollution and illegal activity and witnessing the many varied ways people enjoy and benefit from a healthy river, streams, and ecosystems.
Key DRN accomplishments under van Rossum’s leadership include:
The Delaware River and its tributaries and watershed are under a constantly growing number of assaults, including development projects that contribute to sprawl; the aggressive extraction of resources; floodplain, habitat, and wetlands destruction; new and increased pollution discharges to the river and tributaries; proposals to fill sections of the river, bay, or tributaries for development projects; over-harvesting of species; blasting; dredging; damming; dumping; spills; and catastrophic events. All combine to harm our watershed and all the communities that rely upon it.
Immediate future goals for van Rossum and DRN include: preventing shale gas development in the Delaware River Watershed; preventing the proliferation of pipelines and compressors associated with shale gas within the boundaries of the Delaware River Watershed; preventing the construction and operation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities built to export natural gas; securing policies that ensure preservation of minimum 100-foot buffers along all streams and floodplains; ensuring passage and implementation of best stormwater and construction practices; continuing water quality data collection; preventing the further decline and/or extinction of critical Delaware River species such as Atlantic sturgeon, horseshoe crabs, American shad, and migratory shorebirds; and protecting critical habitats in the watershed for the health and safety of all our communities. These efforts are all designed to protect the region from growing flooding, erosion, and pollution; unsafe water quality; and loss of recreation, sustainable jobs and education opportunities.
Van Rossum also hosts the Shale Truth Interview series on YouTube to provide other perspectives to the discussion on shale gas development and is a regular guest blogger for The Huffington Post.
The Delaware is the longest undammed river east of the Mississippi, flowing freely for 330 miles as it travels from New York through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware to the Atlantic Ocean. Learn how you can help protect and advocate for clean water at www.delawareriverkeeper.org. Follow Maya on Twitter at
@DelRiverkeeper and her blog at http://www.delawarerivervoice.blogspot.com.