Sunday, May 08, 2005

Bounds of Delaware and Liquified Natural Gas

Recent news stories about attempts to build a terminal for unloading liquefied natural gas from vessels on the New Jersey shore of the Delaware River bring to mind the 250 year debate over the borders of Delaware. The New Jersey facility would project out into the river, but Delaware claims ownership of the river in that area all the way to the water line on the New Jersey side. Delaware says its Coastal Zone Act forbids such a terminal.

Lawyer, ecologist, and author Dudley Lunt researched these boundaries in archives in England and the United States. The story starts with William Penn in 1682. Lunt published his slim The Bounds of Delaware in 1947. It details the claims and counterclaims, surveying errors, map errors, and legal actions during the centuries. He tells of the Mason-Dixon line, the famous 12-mile circle around the New Castle courthouse, the "wedge," and the continuation of the circle to the New Jersey shore. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Delaware's claim to the river in 1935.

One can not help but feel the big money petroleum interests will eventually win this fight, but Lunt's book has interesting background information. It has always been a popular collectible.

Other books by Dudley Lunt

Thousand Acre Marsh

The Farmers Bank

Taylor's Gut in the Delaware State

Tales of the Delaware Bench and Bar

The Woods and the Sea

He also wrote notes for selections from Henry David Thoreau