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Resisting in the Susquehanna Watershed

December 15, 2011

The movement to stop shale gas scored a major victory this November, delaying the industry indefinitely in the Delaware River Basin. Now, activists are upping the ante, fighting for the previously unchallenged Susquehanna River Basin.

While the SRBC’s charter doesn’t afford the same regulatory authority its counterpart commission in the Delaware enjoys, the SRBC is responsible for both water quantity and water quality in the Basin, and it could certainly slow or stop the fracking operators. Today there were 26 water withdrawal applications from the gas industry being considered. If the gas industry doesn’t have water, it naturally cannot hydraulically fracture its wells.

Iris Marie Bloom represented Protecting Our Waters at today’s quarterly Susquehanna River Basin Commission hearing. “An unprecedented ninety people appeared” at the obscure commission’s meeting today, Bloom said, to demand that water withdrawals to gas companies be denied. “Scores testified with the most fierce, cogent, science and health-based arguments I’ve ever heard in years of this work.”

Some activists called for civil disobedience, with organizer Alex Lotorto’s rhetoric being most extreme. In the spirit of the Molly Maguires, said Lotorto, “If you are going to drill, you are going to have to hang me!”

Also, the meeting did suffer a bit of a disruption. See video below.

At the end of the day, 24 of the 26 water withdrawal applications were approved in a hasty, confusing, inaudible vote by the Commission as shown in the video above.

A letter from Betterton, MD mayor Carolyn Sorge was sent and read to the commission:

December 14th, 2011

To the Susquehanna River Basin Committee,

We here in Betterton Maryland are committed to cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay by reducing nitrogen and phosphorus from our wastewater treatment discharge.

We are committed to reducing the pollutants from other non-point sources.

Our town, which is on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, depends on clean drinkable water for our health and welfare.

The measures needed to control the pollutants nitrogen and phosphorus are expensive and present a major impact to our citizens, especially the efficient treatment of the wastewater.

This is the huge problem we are dealing with now! We can not handle anymore damage to the already severely damaged Chesapeake.

We insist you take into account that the effects of fracking is a regional problem rather than one isolated to the upper Susquehanna and the damages done to our water, earth and air is a public health issue.

The wide and shallow mouth of the Susquehanna as it flows into the Chesapeake is visible from our side of the bay. This already endangered river accounts for half of the water in our Bay.

The crabs, oysters, fish and birds are just coming back from surviving the run-off pollution from years past. Working class people here depend on crabbing for their livelihood, not to mention our children swimming in the summer!

You must consider us – we are directly affected by what you do here today.

Where are you going to dispose of this massive amount of water from fracking? Your solution to be rid of it by dilution is not a solution we will tolerate!

Our sewage plants do not have the capacity to treat those pollutants from fracking.

And an environmental impact study is called for to study the effects of re-injecting frack water into the earth.

Allowing the natural gas drilling companies to take these 26 massive amounts from the source of our drinking water is a death warrant for the Susquehanna and the Chesapeake Bay.

By policy you are to prevent, reduce and eliminate water pollution. Access to clean water is a basic human right, especially so in our United States of America.


Carolyn Sorge

Mayor of the Town of Betterton Maryland

  1. Kelvin Arnold permalink
    December 15, 2011 7:24 pm

    I am from Towanda pa and it is adversely affected by this fracking. However I now live in Delaware, and swim at Betterton Beach Md. in the summer with my daughter. What they are doing upstream they prosper from but what about those of us who are downstream, no prosperity, just their spoils.

  2. Andy K permalink
    December 16, 2011 9:45 am

    Do you all realize that power plants withdraw more water from the Susquehanna in one day than gas companies do in an entire year? Saying millions of gallons sounds big, but it’s really the proverbial drop in a bucket.


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