Thursday, April 29, 2010

How much is a healthy Delaware River worth? More than anyone could ever conceive or pay!

When local, state and federal governments are being pressured to create jobs, jobs, jobs, the River and environment are often undervalued and their value as a job creator and economic engine vital for the region gets downplayed and forgotten as the special interests fight for their pet projects.  At the Delaware Riverkeeper Network we have written a report that demonstrates that protecting and restoring the Delaware River is fundamental to healthy jobs, economies and communities in our region and if sacrificed to achieve short term political or industrial ends will result in the undermining of the health, enjoyment and economic vitality of our region’s children, families and communities.

 So often we hear about the need to deepen the Delaware to support big oil or industry, or that the state and local regulations that protect our waterways are too great a burden and must be relaxed or eliminated, or that the River is needed to support power plants regardless of the number of fish they slaughter, or that we have to continue to allow industries and communities to dump sewage, toxins, and other pollution into the River.  What gets lost in all of these conversations is the reality that a clean, healthy and free flowing river is essential for the jobs of others, to protect us from illness, to prevent us from suffering unnecessary flood damages.  Big business, politicians and bureaucrats are so busy worrying about whether Dupont will sue them or the ports will oppose them in an election that they forget the River can benefit many more when we protect it for the benefit of all.

Our report titled River Values, includes case studies documenting individuals  and businesses that benefit economically from a clean and healthy Delaware River.  But it also shows the many ways a healthy Delaware River and tributary streams protect us, benefit us, nurture us, enrich us, care for us as individuals and communities.  

If you are fighting to protect the Delaware or any of its tributary streams or habitats from harm this report, River Values, is a must read.  It's going to be a great tool for many of us.

To learn how to get a copy contact the Delaware Riverkeeper Network -- 215 369 1188 or at

Some of the Important Facts in the Report:
ü  In 1986 the Upper Delaware attracted 232,000 whitewater paddlers who spent $13.3 million, adding $6.2 million to local economy and supporting 291 local jobs.
ü  In just one year the Upper Delaware and Delaware Water Gap brought to our local communities 367,400 whitewater paddlers, who spent over $20 million (20,229,000), contributed almost $10 million (9,895,000) to our local economies, and supported 447 jobs. 
ü  Trout fishing in the Upper Delaware River resulted in one year in $17.69 million in local business revenue.  This revenue supporting 348 jobs, providing $3.65 million in wages and $719,350 in local taxes.  This investment translates into an ongoing $29.98 million in local economic activities.
ü  River festivals generate as many as 75,000 visitors to small riverside towns, giving an important boost to local businesses.
ü  Over 2.1 million bushels of clam and oyster shells have been harvested in the Delaware Bay from 2005 thru 2009.  For the region, oyster harvest resulting from this federal investment is projected to generate up to and over $80 million of annual economic benefit, much of this in some of New Jersey’s poorest communities who could not tolerate the loss of associated jobs, revenue and benefit.
ü  The annual economic value of migratory bird and horseshoe crab phenomenon in the Bayshore area provides $25 million in benefits to the Delaware Bayshore area and $34 million regionally.  Because most of these expenditures occur in the “off-season,” they are particularly valuable to local economies.
ü  Protecting, restoring and valuing the ecosystems of the Delaware River is not just of economic import, but is also important to the health and safety of our region.
ü  The biomedical industry dependent on the horseshoe crabs found in the Delaware Bay is said to provide $150 million of value in addition to the life saving tests they provide for medical devices, intravenous drugs and to detect life threatening illness such as spinal meningitis.  The LAL needed for these tests is irreplaceable, found only in the blood of the horseshoe crab, cannot be created synthetically.
ü  In the United States trees planted on private properties have generated over $1.5 billion in tax revenue and can increase the value of nearby homes by 6 to 15%.
ü  Trees in just four of our local watersheds saved a combined $6 ½ billion in otherwise needed infrastructure. (Big Timber, Cobbs, Mill, & Frankford-Tacony)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Earth Day -- Then & Now

I had the good fortune at the invitation of WHYY to see the new film Earth Day.

Earth Day told the story of why and how the first Earth Day in 1970 came to be.

It was interesting and scary to see the course of events played out over the course of an hour (or so) that led to the first Earth Day.  It was inspiring to see the tremendous energy and action and commitment that went into creating Earth Day, launching the environmental movement of the United States, and making change for the benefit of us all.

So much I didn't remember and/or didn't know.  So much I did remember and was reminded of.

And it was sad to see how much of the past that inspired all of this environmental protection is still happening today in new and increasing ways.

The Earth Day of 1970 was the start of a movement -- an environmental movement, a movement to pursue and achieve change.  Passage of the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Coastal Zone Management Act; creation of the Environmental Protection Agency; solar panels on the roof of the White House.

Today Earth Day is starkly different -- today it is a single day of education and perhaps a little bit of action -- mainly with our kids -- and then it ends with the day.

Because Earth Day has lost its power and inspiration the solar panels at the White House (put there by President Carter) were removed (by President Reagan); and the laws passed continue to be methodically eroded by industry and politicians with little opposition from the public at large.  Deepening and offshore oil drilling to benefit big oil and undermine alternative energy despite of the environmental harms is very much alive in the Delaware River watershed.  PCBs, a toxin so dangerous its use was banned in the 1980s but it is still discharged legally from over 100 sources into the Delaware River.  Natural Gas extraction is being pursued in a way that will turn our beautiful upper Delaware into an industrial landscape, pollute our waterways and threaten drinking water supplies, and sap our streams and aquifers dry of water and health.  And development runs rampant - including so aggressively that folks like Governor Rendell think it is perfectly acceptable to fill in 33 acres of the Delaware River to accommodate development.

This has to stop!

Earth Day's next 40 years need to be about a movement for change, for strengthened environmental laws, and expanding environmental restoration.

In fact, with this blog post, I challenge each one of you to begin this year by:
(1) getting involved at the community level -- get active and vocal on one environmental issue threatening a water or ecosystem you care about (to help identify some issues and how you can get involved go to the Delaware Riverkeeper website and check out the action page) and by
(2) making a change in your personal life -- make one relatively dramatic life change that reduces your impact on the earth such as revegetating your lawnscape with native trees or shrubs (for more info on how to accomplish this go to the Delaware Riverkeeper Network website at or perhaps installing solar panels on your roof.

And please, email me at to tell me about the step or steps you took this year to help defend the Delaware River, its tributaries or any of the habitats and ecosystems in its watershed.  Send me text and pictures as you see fit to help share your story.  I'd love to see the change we can accomplish when we all commit to take action over the course of the year together and to turn Earth Day 2010 into the beginning of a new movement for our River, our environment and our Earth.