Tuesday, August 28, 2007

FossilFuel Fools on the River

Dear Mr. Brunner,
My Family and I went tubing on the Delaware River this past weekend and were almost hit numerous times by jet ski's. In addition these jet ski's left behind a noxious smell of gasoline. My question is: Is anything being done to prevent gas motors from being used on the Delaware, one of the last rivers left in New Jersey where one can take a swim?

I got your name with help from Sierra Club Members.

Thanks, Bill W.

Dear Mr. Bill:
I have been involved with this issue as far back as 1993 during my stint with Delaware Riverkeeper and have found a few effective ways to cope that could be considered a surrender of sorts. I do not paddle the river on weekends during the summer and if you must do that, be on the water by 9 AM at the latest because most of the rumb dedneck jetskiers are still sleeping off a hangover! I know you won't be taking your family tubing in the winter, but that is one of my favorite times to paddle; nothing like the serenity of the river after a snow storm.

An even better tactic for jet ski avoidance is to visit the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area or the Upper Delaware National Scenic River. That 100 + mile stretch of river is managed by National Park Service and jet skis are banned. Motor boats have strict speed limits that discourage water skis and jetboats. The water quality is even better upriver, although tubing would not be a good idea in the Class II rapids of the Upper Delaware.

I realize these methods for coping with the the motorheads probably wouldn't help most people who might be limited to using the river locally and on weekends.

As for the pollution problems and habitat destruction that motorized boaters cause in the river, I don't think the states care about that at all. What they do care about are the revenues that come from boat registrations.

It's important to remember that the two state agencies responsible for enforcing boater laws in the lower Delaware River (PA Fish & Boat Commission and NJ Marine Police) receive revenue from registration of jet skis and motor boats, so you can imagine why they wouldn't want to ban jet skis. PA Fish & Boat is very open about their dependency upon registration fees, as the preceding link illustrates. At the same time, budgetary problems mean neither NJ nor PA provide much in the way of traffic enforcement of boater laws. The NJ Marine Police rarely if ever patrol the non-tidal Delaware because they have their hands full in coastal waters dealing with similar problems.

To its credit the National Park Service actually cares about things like water quality and air quality, not to mention the solitude and beauty that jetskiers are inherently incapable of appreciating. With support from organizations up and down the river, NPS has withstood the challenges to the motorized restrictions that are in place upriver, this despite the Bush administration's insidious influence on the Interior Department.

Even if we built yet one more coalition to address jet ski use, I think the most we could hope for at this point is increased enforcement. I've observed bad actors and also people who use these noisy stinkpots with a degree of courtesy.

A comprehensive recreational survey for the lower Delaware River is badly needed, and could be a starting point for assessing the problem. If you are interested in pursuing this further let me know.

Good luck, JB

Jet skis, snowmobiles, cigar boats, SUVs, leaf blowers, plastic bottles, suburban sprawl, obesity: all are one way or another related to oil. It's enough to make me wish for $10 per gallon gasoline prices.

As a nation we're hopelessly addicted to oil. But are we so addicted that we're willing to choose oil executives to run this country? (For those of us who believe the Turd Blossom and the RNC stole two elections the answer would be no). The Busheviks and their ilk have no problem sacrificing the blood of 3700 economically depressed young Americans and 700,000 Iraqis for oil. They have offered up a virtual menu of terror alerts, noble causes and organically produced BS to sustain our complicity.

It will all come crashing down some day with some heavy bad Karma, and when that time comes the planet will be better off, when there's no more oil in the trough. Not in my lifetime maybe, but it is inevitable.

Enough of that! I'm going to drive over to New Hope and buy a Creamsicle now.


Lobotomies for Republicans: IT'S THE LAW!