Friday, July 24, 2009

Delaware River Deepening Permit Denied

Collin O'Mara, Secretary of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, has denied the permit application by the Army Corps of Engineers to deepen the Delaware River. In his letter to the Army Corps, O'Mara offered several reasons for denying the permit:
Given the hearing officer’s recommendations, the significant changes to the scale of the project, the outdated nature of the record, and the potential procedural flaws in making such an important decision based upon the existing record, I have no alternative than to deny the permits. Please note that having reviewed the record, I take this action without prejudice to any future permit application.
The proposal to deepen the navigation channel from 40 to 45 feet has been on the table for more than eight years. An application was filed with DNREC in January, 2001. The hearing officer presented his findings and recommendations in 2003.
The Secretary's Order notes that the hearing officer had presented the Army Corps with conditions for further consideration by DNREC:
If the Army Corps agree to abide by all the conditions, then the Hearing Officer suggested that the Department reconsider whether to issue the permits. If the Army Corps did not agree to the permit conditions, then the Department would allow the Army Corps to submit a new application that was limited in scope to those identified statutory deficiencies or to any new information that could change the Hearing Officer's findings.
Evidently, the Army Corps has chosen to do neither. After eight years, the State of Delaware is standing up to the Army Corps and defending its jurisdiction over Delaware's waters.


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