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Protect the Susquehanna River Watershed

December 9, 2011
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The Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) is proposing to approve 26 water withdrawals and will decide December 15, 2011 in Wilkes-Barre.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has made it clear that “citizens need to speak up.” Without citizen interventions, our water is gone forever.

Support the Susquehanna!

Tell the SRBC to do its job and protect the river and our communities from gas drilling impacts!

At a meeting on December 15, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) will be considering several water withdrawal applications from gas operators, and intends to vote on proposed regulations that speed up approvals of gas development projects and the transport of hazardous drilling wastewater.

WHAT: Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) meeting
WHEN: 8:30 AM Thursday, December 15th
WHERE: Best Western East Mountain Inn & Suites, 2400 East End Boulevard (Route 115) Wilkes-Barre, PA
WHY: SRBC plans to approve 26 massive water withdrawals for fracking in the Susquehanna River watershed. This would essentially destroy the Susquehanna River, which has already been bubbling with methane gas for over 400 days due to uncontrolled methane migration from fracking. A large area of Bradford County in the Susquehanna River watershed is already contaminated; people have been evacuated in the middle of the night due to methane migration; water has turned gray and black and turned up with glutaraldehyde, high methane concentrations, etc. Keep in mind that the aquifer in Dimock, irreversibly contaminated with multiple chemicals, is also in the Susquehanna River Basin.
TRANSPORTATION: If interested in carpooling from Philly, contact abe at abe@protectingourwaters.com

The SRBC meets regularly to make decisions on water use and management.

Please attend the December 15 meeting to tell the SRBC that it needs to stop promoting gas drilling—and instead do a better job of protecting the waters, wildlife, and communities of the entire Susquehanna Basin.

The meeting will start at 8:30 a.m. at the Best Western East Mountain Inn & Suites, 2400 East End Boulevard (Route 115) in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. There will be a public comment period at the end of the meeting, and we hope to also have the chance to comment on the proposed gas development regulations before the Commissioners vote on them.

Key points to make in your comments include:

  • The commission must uphold its mandate to have a comprehensive plan in place for water use and management by studying the cumulative impacts from gas development, and not issue more permits for water withdrawals or gas projects until this is done. The SRBC should not make it easier for gas companies to get permits and to promote drilling, despite growing evidence of pollution by the industry.
  • American Rivers designated the Susquehanna River the nation’s most endangered river in 2011, largely due to increasing gas development and lax regulation. The EPA has also declared the Chesapeake Bay—which gets half its freshwater from the Susquehanna—severely impaired by pollution and is requiring New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland to reduce pollution loads. The SRBC must consider how its approval of gas development could contribute even more sediment and contaminants to the Basin, and not issue any more permits for projects that could make the pollution worse.
  • SRBC operates on the basis of “joint authority,” which requires policy coordination and uniform standards among member states when it comes to water use and management. Yet the rush to drill in one member state, Pennsylvania, is controlling SRBC’s decisions even though the other two members, Maryland and New York, haven’t yet decided to permit drilling. SRBC must abandon its proposed regulations and not issue any more permits for water withdrawals until New York and Maryland have completed their studies of the impacts of gas development and adopted related regulations.

Background: The Susquehanna River Basin Commission coordinates the use of water resources among Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania—the three states across which the river flows for over 400 miles—and the federal government. The Commission’s work is governed by a Compact adopted in 1970 by the U.S. Congress and legislatures of the three member states.

In November, the SRBC received a letter signed by more than 40 organizations across the region urging the Commission to stop its rulemaking on gas drilling until it conducts necessary comprehensive environmental studies.

If you can’t attend this meeting in person, please send a letter sharing your concerns to your state’s representative on the Commission; you can also copy the U.S. Commissioner and the SRBC.

  • Maryland: Dr. Robert M. Summers, Secretary. Maryland Department of the Environment. 1800 Washington Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21230.
  • New York: James M. Tierney, Assistant Commissioner for Water Resources. New York Department of Environmental Conservation. 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-1010.
  • Pennsylvania: Michael L. Krancer, Secretary. Department of Environmental Protection. Rachel Carson State Office Building, 400 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101.
  • Federal: Colonel Christopher Larsen, Commander. North Atlantic Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 302 General Lee Avenue Brooklyn, New York 11252.
  • SRBC: Paul O. Swartz, Executive Director. Susquehanna River Basin Commission. 1721 N. Front Street, Harrisburg, PA 17102

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