Politics as we know it today has been caused by our failure to pay attention to public issues: war, peace, civil rights, land, water, air, schools, and many more. If to a lot of us it seems like a sordid ripoff these days, only we can take it--and our society--back. For ourselves and for our children.
This may not mean directly involving ourselves in political life, although there are some good people in elective office and we should try to cast informed votes that will add to their number.
But we definitely need to be advocating for public issues, for the future of America.
I will be discussing non-profit, non-political organizations that are dealing with such issues, in the hope my readers will find one or more they would like to work with and help. And I will begin with Delaware River Keepers.
Our magnificent Delaware River (okay, so New York and New Jersey share it) is, as far as I know, still the longest free-flowing river in the United States. It has recovered remarkably from both severe pollution and the threat of impoundment of its waters--remember the now rather long ago threat of the Tocks Island Dam?
A healthy Delaware--and as of now it still is relatively healthy--is an astonishing economic, social, and cultural asset. For example, in just one recent years, whitewater enthusiasts contributed almost $10 million to the economy of the Upper Delaware. At the other end of the river, the migratory birds and horseshoe crab spawning provide an estimated $34 million in regional benefits annually. These figures are from a mailing I recently received from Delaware Riverkeepers
Yet in the year just passing, the Upper Delaware has been designated the nation's most endangered river. The chief reason is the search for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale that underlies a large part of the region. Some 200,000 acres have already been leased for exploration--and the environment and the economy are ill protected from the potential effects. There are few state regulations on drilling; and the Federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 provides exemptions for natural gas from many of the provisions of federal clean water laws.
We need energy. We also need restrictions on what else we will sacrifice for it.
To put it bluntly: Can we drink natural gas? Grow food in it? Swim and bathe in it?
The threat of mishandled natural gas development in the Marcellus Shale has been called the environmental issue of our time, and may well be. Certainly it is of vital concern to Pennsylvania and its people. The Delaware Riverkeepers Network is among the organizations leading the fight for environmental restraint and responsibility in this matter.
But its programs extend far beyond this. They aid communities all along the river, and include advocacy, habitat restoration, a River Resources law clinic, and more. In short, The Delaware Riverkeepers Network is an outstanding leader in regional watershed issues.
If you would like to help, or to learn more, visit the DRN web site at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or phone 215-369-1188.