Monthly Archives: November 1998

Alert #32 Delaware Coastal Zone Act faces greatest threat in 26 years

Port Penn, DE. November 17, 1998. One of Delaware’s most important laws is its Coastal Zone Act, passed in 1971. It says: “The coastal areas of Delaware are the most critical areas for the future of the State in terms of the quality of life in the State….it is the policy of the State to control the location, extent, and type of industrial development [to] better protect the natural environment of its bay and coastal areas and safeguard their use primarily for recreation and tourism….This … [law] …seeks to prohibit entirely the construction of new heavy industry in ….coastal areas, which industry is determined to be incompatible with the protection of that natural environment in those areas……”

Working through Del. Gov. Tom Carper, heavy industries operating in the Coastal Zone (including DuPont, Delmarva Power, and Texaco) are poised to gut the Coastal Zone Act. In a key victory, they got the Sierra Club, the Del. Audubon Society, and the Del. “Nature” Society to sign a “Memorandum of Agreement” reinterpreting the Act in favor of industry. No members of the “recreation and tourism ” industries, or fishermen, or watermen, participated in this “Agreement.”

Regulations based on this “Agreement” as expected to be adopted by the Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board after a public hearing in Dover on November 23 at one PM.

Lets compare the Act to the “Agreement:” The ACT says “… construction of industrial plants in the coastal zone … is declared to be against public policy.” The AGREEMENT says “the regulatory process should be designed to that each heavy industry facility can obtain permits to add new products, change existing products, increase production capacity, add new processes and modify existing processes…. Such a regulatory process has been developed. Among it’s provisions:

Industry may increase pollution in the Zone in return for “offsetting.” For example, a refinery could put out more air pollution in return for promising to plant trees. This is called “environmental improvement.” We think it’s a scheme to let state agencies “shake down” industries in return for allowing more pollution. “Environmental indicators” chosen and interpreted by the State (read “Industry”) are to be monitored. How this would protect the Coastal Zone from industrial pollution is unclear. A “technical advisory committee” is already at work developing “indicators.” Its 17 members include one identified as an “environmental advocate” and many major polluters.

ACTION: Green Delaware has issued several Alerts about this. Now it’s “LAST CALL:”


Call Christine Waisanen, Chair of the Coastal Zone Board (428-0305), Governor Carper (302.577.3210) and your Senator and Representative. Say (1) you want the proposed regulations discarded, (2) you want the Coastal Zone strengthened, not weakened, and (3) “Offsets” for increased industrial emissions are not acceptable.

Call the Sierra Club (Debbie Heaton, 302.378.8501), the Del. Audubon Society (Grace Pierce-Beck, 302.674.5568) and the Delaware “Nature” Society (Mike Riska, 302.239.2334) Tell them to withdraw their support. Send an email to the Ex. Director of the Sierra Club in San Francisco:

Look for more details in upcoming Green Delaware News. (C) Alan Muller