Pennsylvania Gov. Rendell and New Jersey Gov. Corzine are expected to finalize a deal on the deepening of the Delaware River shipping channel as early as next week.
It could not be determined yesterday exactly what the final agreement would entail. But officials have been discussing shifting management of the project - which involves dredging the channel from 40 to 45 feet to allow passage of larger container ships - from the bistate Delaware River Port Authority to the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority in Pennsylvania. That would make Pennsylvania fully responsible for funding the project and answering environmental and other concerns expressed by New Jersey officials.
But such a deal would still not sit well with some dredging critics on the New Jersey side. A group of environmentalists said yesterday that it would represent, on Corzine's part, an "abdication of authority and responsibility" to protect the Delaware.
U.S. Rep. Robert Andrews (D., N.J.), who represents parts of South Jersey, said he did not know all the details of the agreement, but based on his "current understanding," he "cannot support it." Andrews said he believed "the agreement calls for New Jersey to support expedited state and federal environmental reviews. This is unacceptable." Andrews said he also worried that South Jersey still could be used as "a dumping ground" for dredge spoil under the agreement.
A spokesman for Corzine declined comment on the issue, saying there was nothing to announce. A Rendell spokesman said "there is no deal on dredging yet, but we're working hard and getting closer." - Jennifer Moroz