Dredging opponents dig in their heels

    The effort to make the Delaware River five feet deeper is itself in deep water. Delaware’s environmental commissioner halted the dredging project last week, saying its studies were old and outdated.

    The effort to make the Delaware River five feet deeper is itself in deep water. Delaware’s environmental commissioner halted the dredging project last week, saying its studies were old and outdated. Then Delaware’s two U.S. senators slipped an amendment into an energy bill this week that would require Delaware regulators approve any effort to deepen the river.

    Listen:
    [audio: 090731dddredge.mp3]

    The new delay, and the prospect of going back to the drawing board, has thrilled the dredging project’s opponents. That opposition includes environmentalists and some officials, like South Jersey congressman Robert Andrews, who say dredging will hurt the environment and do little to boost the regional economy.

    But Marty Mascuilli, secretary-treasurer of the International Longshoreman’s Association Local 1291, isn’t having any of that. He says the tri-state port is being killed by competition from deeper ports and an industry moving to increasingly bigger ships.

    Mascuilli: Why would you as a shipper that traverses the globe, with large vessels, consider Philadelphia, if you can’t even get up the river?

    The amendment from Senators Ted Kaufman and Tom Carper is now in the hands of a conference committee, resolving differences between the House and Senate bills.

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