DNREC to Host Public Hearing on Diamond State Port Corp.’s Proposed Container Port on Sept. 29

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control will hold a virtual public hearing Tuesday, Sept. 29 on a proposal from the Diamond State Port Corporation (DSPC) to construct a new container port on the Delaware River at the DSPC property at 4600 Hay Road, Edgemoor, New Castle County.

The proposed container port project will require permits from both DNREC’s Division of Water and the Division of Waste of Hazardous Substances, as well as a Federal Consistency Certification from the Delaware Coastal Management Program within DNREC’s Division of Climate, Coastal and Energy, all of which will be presented for public comment in the Sept. 29 hearing.

The public may comment in writing prior to the hearing, or comment live during the virtual hearing, or submit written comments following the hearing until November 1, 2020.

Written comments may be submitted online, via email or mail from now until Nov. 1. Written comments are made available to the public on the hearing website as they are received.

Members of the public who wish to comment live during the virtual hearing must pre-register with the Department online or by phone no later than noon on Tuesday, Sept. 29. Live comments will be transcribed and will be publicly available soon after the hearing.

All comments receive equal weight. All comments will be reviewed by the hearing officer as she makes her recommendations on all pending matters associated with this proposed project to DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin. Comments will also be reviewed by the Secretary as he makes a final decision on the applications. No recommendations or decisions on any matters currently pending before the Department are made at the time of the hearing.

All documentation and information about the proposed project and links to the upcoming hearing, including instructions on how to join, pre-register, and/or submit comments, may be reviewed at https://de.gov/portproject.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The Division of Climate, Coastal and Energy uses science, education, policy development and incentives to address Delaware’s climate, energy and coastal challenges. The Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances ensures Delaware’s wastes are managed to protect human life, health, safety and the environment. The Division of Water manages and protects Delaware’s water resources. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov ; Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov

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More Delmarva Fox Squirrels Moving to Delaware

Delmarva fox squirrels are about to get a population boost in Delaware with a new round of translocations planned for later this month, a project of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and its state and federal partners. Although this charismatic squirrel was once a federally-listed endangered species, translocations, habitat management and land protection have helped regional Delmarva fox squirrel populations to recover, resulting in the species being removed from the federal endangered species list in 2015.

Delmarva fox squirrels are now abundant on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, but these large, silver-gray squirrels remain rare in Delaware, with only two known populations in the state. Unlike many of its squirrel relatives, the Delmarva fox squirrel is very slow to expand its range and colonize new territories. To help speed the return of this species to more locations in Delaware, the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife is planning to translocate squirrels from robust populations in Maryland to unoccupied suitable habitats in southern Delaware.

In 2014, the Division developed a Delmarva Fox Squirrel Conservation Plan in collaboration with stakeholders, to increase the number of Delmarva fox squirrels in Delaware. After monitoring and researching the feasibility and methods for reintroduction, the plan is now being implemented. Squirrels captured from Dorchester County, Md., will be released into the Assawoman Wildlife Area in southeastern Sussex County starting in mid-September 2020.

Translocations have proven to be an important and effective tool for increasing the distribution of this species and are the cornerstone of the Delmarva Fox Squirrel Conservation Plan. Since they are no longer a federally-listed endangered species, landowners should not be concerned if they start seeing Delmarva fox squirrels on their property. Hunting of Delmarva fox squirrels is prohibited, so it is important that hunters note the differences between them and the more commonly seen eastern gray squirrels, for which Delaware has a hunting season.

For more information about this project, including photographs comparing Delmarva fox squirrels and eastern gray squirrels and answers to frequently asked questions, or to report sightings, visit the Delmarva fox squirrel web page. Video of squirrels being moved is posted on DNREC’s YouTube channel.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The Division of Fish and Wildlife conserves and manages Delaware’s fish and wildlife and their habitats, and provides fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and boating access on nearly 65,000 acres of public land. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Joanna Wilson, joanna.wilson@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov

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Input Sought on Delaware’s Climate Action Plan

Virtual Workshop Series Kicks Off This Week, Online Survey Open

DNREC kicks off a series of virtual public workshops this week aimed at getting feedback on potential actions the state can take to best prepare for climate change.

The workshops, which support the development of Delaware’s Climate Action Plan, come on the heels of a recently-released technical report that projects greenhouse gas emission levels in the state over the next three decades. The report shows that if no further actions are taken, Delaware will fall short of its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28% by 2025 from 2005 levels.

The report, prepared for DNREC as part of Delaware’s Climate Action Plan, also shows that by implementing certain emissions reduction actions, Delaware can not only exceed its 2025 goal, but also make notable progress toward longer-term reductions.

Numerous peer-reviewed studies indicate that about 97% of climate scientists worldwide agree that greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are a major driver of the climate change we see today. In line with this scientific consensus, the virtual workshop series will look at how Delaware can minimize its greenhouse gas emissions, as well maximize its resilience to the climate change impacts we’re already experiencing.

The first workshop in the series, which will examine strategies the state can take to minimize greenhouse gas emissions, takes place Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. The workshop will be repeated Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
Other workshops in the series include:

  • Sept. 24, 5:30 to 7 p.m.: Workshop No. 2 – Maximizing Resilience to Sea Level Rise
  • Sept. 29, 5:30 to 7 p.m.: Workshop No. 3 – Maximizing Resilience to Increased Temperatures
  • Oct. 1, 5:30 to 7 p.m.: Workshop No. 4 – Maximizing Resilience to Heavy Precipitation and Flooding

The workshops will include interactive activities to help facilitate input from participants.

Members of the public are encouraged to attend one or more workshops in the series. Attendance at one workshop is not required for attendance at another, but registration is required for each workshop.

The workshops will be recorded and posted on declimateplan.org. For those unable to participate in the workshops, an interactive online survey is also available on declimateplan.org to provide input on possible climate change solutions for Delaware. The survey will remain open through October 15.

All the workshops will be held virtually via Zoom, a video and telephone conferencing system that is free to use. Instructions for how to download and use Zoom will be sent to registered participants prior to each workshop.

For more information about the public workshop series, or to learn more about climate change in Delaware, visit declimateplan.org.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The Division of Climate, Coastal and Energy uses science, education, policy development and incentives to address Delaware’s climate, energy and coastal challenges. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contact: Michael Globetti, Michael.globetti@delaware.gov or Jim Lee, JamesW.Lee@delaware.gov.

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AG Jennings announces suit to hold Exxon, American Petroleum Institute, 29 others accountable for climate change costs

Claims include Negligent Failure to Warn, Trespass, Nuisance and Consumer Fraud Act violations

Attorney General Kathy Jennings announced Thursday that Delaware is suing 31 fossil fuel companies on behalf of the state’s residents and businesses to hold them accountable for decades of deception about the role their products play in causing climate change, the harm that is causing in Delaware, and for the mounting costs of surviving those harms.

“Delawareans are already paying for the malfeasance of the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies,” said Attorney General Jennings. “Exxon, Chevron, and other mega-corporations knew exactly what kind of sacrifices the world would make to support their profits, and they deceived the public for decades. Now we are staring down a crisis at our shores, and taxpayers are once again footing the bill for damage to our roads, our beaches, our environment, and our economy. We are seeking accountability from some of the world’s most powerful businesses to pay for the mess they’ve made.”

The complaint, filed Thursday in Delaware Superior Court, asserts four state law causes of action against the defendants: negligent failure to warn, trespass, public nuisance, and numerous violations of Delaware’s Consumer Fraud Act. It also describes the defendants’ decades-long campaign of deception, the causes and effects of climate disruption, how specific contributions to climate change are attributable to the defendants, and the injuries that Delaware is suffering as a result of their conduct. As stated in the complaint:

As a direct and proximate consequence of Defendants’ wrongful conduct described in this Complaint, the environment in and around Delaware is changing, with devastating adverse impacts on the State and its residents, particularly communities of color and low-income communities. Virtually all of Delaware’s eastern border is coastal or tidal, and Delaware is one of the lowest-lying states in the nation, with a mean elevation of only approximately 60 feet above sea level. In addition, the beach communities and coastal economy serve as an essential pillar of the State’s economy.

Shawn Garvin, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, cited the mounting climate change-related impacts in the state and the burden it is imposing on Delaware’s environment and economy:

“Delaware and our residents are suffering from sea level rise, increased temperatures, heavy precipitation and flooding due to climate change, and that is adversely impacting our public health, environment and economy,” said Secretary Garvin. “The science is clear that these climate impacts are directly attributable to the products produced by fossil fuel companies.”

“For too long, there has been a concerted effort by some in the fossil fuel industry to mislead the public about the science behind climate change and its devastating effects,” said U.S. Senator Tom Carper, who serves as Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “While some companies have since seen the error of their ways, and are now working in good faith to find climate solutions, others have poured millions, maybe billions of dollars into hiding the truth about climate change. The people of Delaware see the effects of climate change in Delaware every day. Families and businesses in our state are already experiencing the environmental and economic consequences of the worsening climate crisis. It is unfortunate that litigation is necessary to drag those remaining bad actors into the light, but my hope is that this litigation will hold those actors accountable.”

“Attorney General Kathy Jennings deserves a tremendous amount of credit for holding these fossil fuel companies accountable for the sea-level rise that is threatening our very way of life in Delaware,” said Delaware State Senate President Pro Tempore David McBride, who chaired the Senate Natural Resources and Environmental Control Committee for more than two decades. “From Claymont to Fenwick Island, we are seeing first hand just how devastating climate change will be to our lives, our economy and our communities. Delaware did not create this crisis. But thanks to the bold action taken here today, those who did might finally be held responsible.”

Some of the climate change impacts that are outlined in the complaint include:

  • Delaware has the lowest average elevation of any state and more than 22,000 residents are currently threatened by coastal flooding. The state has already experienced over a foot of sea level rise. That number could rise to over six feet by the end of the century.
  • Substantial flooding from climate change is expected in east and south Wilmington, an area where poverty rates reach up to 32% of the population.
  • Sea level rise will threaten over $1 billion in property value, and the loss of Delaware’s beaches will harm the State’s $3.5 billion, 44,000-job tourism industry.
  • By 2050, parts of Delaware are expected to endure 30 additional days per year of temperatures with a heat index above 105°F. More than 20,000 Delawareans are especially vulnerable to extreme heat, and, due to systemic inequities, communities of color and low-income communities are particularly vulnerable to extreme heat events.
  • Extreme weather and rising seas threaten Delaware’s agriculture industry with drought, saltwater intrusion into cropland soils, and higher temperatures and changing rainfall patterns that lead to crop losses, reduced yield, and higher infrastructure, irrigation, and energy costs.

A press briefing will be held via Zoom Thursday at 1:45 p.m. Media can register in advance by sending an email to Mat Marshall at mat.marshall@delaware.gov.


DNREC Announces Grants to Support Communities With Pollution Restoration Projects

Public Workshops Scheduled for Sept. 17 and 24

Delaware communities adversely affected by environmental pollution can now apply for Community Environmental Project Fund (CEPF) restoration grants for the 2021 grant cycle. The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control has scheduled two virtual public workshops focused on the CEPF program and how to apply for the grants.

The virtual workshops will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 17, and Thursday, Sept. 24. Connection information for the workshops is posted on the Delaware public meeting calendar and on the Community Environmental Project Fund web page. Pre-registration is suggested, but not required for participation.

The Delaware General Assembly created the Community Environmental Project Fund in 2004 to fund restoration projects in communities impacted by environmental pollution. Grant funding is available to affected communities for projects that result in:

  • Reduced pollution
  • Enhanced natural resources
  • Enhanced recreational opportunities

Projects supported by the fund must be in the same drainage basin as the violation for which a fine was collected. Applicants can identify the drainage basin location of their projects with this tool.

Recent past CEPF projects statewide have included a habitat restoration and scrap tire cleanup, a pollenating rain garden at a school, healthy home and energy assessments, a museum trail project, an energy savings model home for a low income community, a native plantings project to mitigate stormwater runoff, educational signage for a stormwater management site, funding to support plastic pollution education and a floating dock and canoe/kayak project that provides recreational access and helps stabilize canal banks.

IRS tax-exempt organizations are eligible for CEPF grants of up to $25,000. These groups include civic and community organizations, educational institutions, counties, municipal governments, state agencies and quasi-state agencies. The application deadline is Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. The projects funded in this grant cycle can begin on July 1, 2021 and should be completed by June 30, 2022.

To register or for more information about the workshops, contact DNREC Community Ombudsman James Brunswick, Division of Community Affairs, at 302-739-9040 or James.Brunswick@delaware.gov.

The grant application, workshop details and more information about the Community Environmental Project Fund are available online at de.gov/cepf.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. For more information, visit the website and connect with DNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov; Joanna Wilson, joanna.wilson@delaware.gov

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