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URGENT: Testify to the SRBC on Feb 14; Submit Comments by Feb 25

February 9, 2013

The next public hearing on water withdrawals for fracking in the Susquehanna River Basin is this coming Thursday, February 14th in Harrisburg, and the next deadline for public comments is February 25th. Please testify on the 14th if you can!

Protecting Our Waters continues to call for a halt on all water withdrawals for fracking in the Susquehanna River Basin.  The people in the SRB continue to experience their water turning black and other impacts (extreme and explosive levels of methane migration; chemicals associated with fracking turning up in drinking water; chemical spills; methane geysers; blowouts), while there is no acceptable plan for the disposal of toxic radioactive fracking waste within the Susquehanna River Basin or anywhere else.  And the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is pushing EPA to declare the river impaired, as diseased and dying smallmouth bass indicate the level of harm already done to the magnificent Susquehanna River.

The Action Alert below is posted as written by a coalition of organizations including Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, Earthworks, Sierra Club of PA, PennFuture and Clean Water Action.  There are suggested talking points included in the alert but please feel free to modify them or use your own in an effort to push back hard against the SRBC policy of rubber-stamping all water withdrawals for fracking.  SRBC has never assessed cumulative life-cycle impacts.  The governors of all three SRBC states — PA, NY, MD — are responsible for their votes and for the consequences of each ill-considered approval, along with President Obama, who directs his Army Corps of Engineers Representative to vote “yes” on these withdrawals.  The renewals, as well as new withdrawals, must be voted down.  A Cumulative Impacts Study of life-cycle impacts must be voted in.

From the Coalition alert:

For Valentine’s Day, Show the Susquehanna River You Care!

Testify to the SRBC on February 14 or submit written comments by February 25

In February, we have the chance to tell the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) that they must address shale gas development!

SRBC will hold a public hearing on February 14 at 1 pm on water withdrawal applications that will be voted on at its meeting in March; this is also an opportunity to tell the SRBC it needs to conduct a thorough study of shale gas development’s impacts on water resources of the Susquehanna.  Then at 3pm, the Commission will hold another hearing on its new proposed rule to better protect small headwater streams.  These hearings will take place in the Pennsylvania State Capitol, Room 8E-­‐B, East Wing, off Commonwealth Avenue in Harrisburg, PA.

If you can’t make it to the hearings, written comments can be submitted until February 25.  Send them by mail to SRBC, 1721 N. Front Street, Harrisburg, PA 17102–2391, by email to  rcairo@srbc.net, or online at www.srbc.net/pubinfo/publicparticipation/PublicComments.aspx?type=2.

See www.srbc.net/pubinfo/publicparticipation.htm for more information on the hearing, commenting, and the issues being considered.

To learn more and take action to protect the Susquehanna, go to www.earthworksaction.org/issues/detail/susquehanna_river_basin_commission

Use the talking points below to help craft your comments!

Key points to include in comments

  • Shale gas development is booming in Pennsylvania, and being considered in New York and Maryland. The landscape is changing. Commissioners have a responsibility to immediately consider both current and foreseeable impacts.
  •  Gas exploration activities may seem to be confined to one place, but can become very intense and widespread over time across the Basin—making it unacceptable for SRBC to keep considering one water withdrawal permit at a time without regard to other withdrawals that are happening.
  • The SRBC is required by its Compact to not only regulate water use, but to also plan for the future and manage resources in a way that prevents significant negative impacts. The best way to accomplish these goals is for SRBC to follow through on its commitment to conduct a cumulative impacts study in 2013, and to make sure that study is broad and in-­depth, taking into account the many impacts on water from all stages of gas extraction, production, and transport. These impacts include: erosion and sedimentation; landscape changes; pollution in sensitive areas; transfers of water from the Susquehanna to other river basins; the permanent loss of freshwater through use in fracking.
  • The Commission must engage the public in designing its impacts study. Citizens and experts have a lot of knowledge to offer on water resources and how shale gas operations affect them.
  • SRBC should not facilitate further shale gas drilling by authorizing water withdrawal permits in the absence of a full, science-­‐based understanding of these problems and measures to prevent them. It should consider halting or restricting further water withdrawal permits for gas operators until the impacts study is finished and its conclusions integrated into agency planning.
  • SRBC should not approve any of the applications up for renewal without first carefully assessing the impacts of the withdrawals. In particular, SRBC should perform an “Aquatic Resource Survey” for every withdrawal application, including renewals, and consider other available data on the site in question. If a proposed withdrawal would have an adverse effect on water resources, it shouldn’t be authorized.
  • The Commission should accept the proposed rule that requires water withdrawals from small watersheds draining less than 10 sq. miles to remain within that watershed. This is a critical protection because the smaller the area, the less the amount of water that can be removed without causing harm.
  • SRBC should post on its website complete applications for water withdrawals, including all supporting documentation on such factors as anticipated impacts and alternatives to what’s being proposed. This change will improve the transparency of the Commission’s decisions, and is the only way for the public  to assess the impacts of proposed projects.
8 Comments
  1. Terry permalink
    February 9, 2013 5:06 pm

    Can someone please check out what happened in Youngstown, OH., on Feb.8th, 2013. Channel 3 news out of Cleveland said a company fracking a well, was caught draining the fracking fluid down a storm sewer.

  2. patricia.libbey@verizon.net permalink
    February 9, 2013 8:37 pm

       

  3. Claudia Crane permalink
    February 9, 2013 9:25 pm

    What I posted to the SRBC link above:
    People in the SRB continue to experience their water turning black and other impacts which have included extreme and explosive levels of methane migration; chemicals associated with fracking turning up in drinking water; chemical spills; methane geysers; blowouts.

    Furthermore,there is no acceptable plan for the disposal of toxic radioactive fracking waste within the Susquehanna River Basin or anywhere else.

    The SRBC should not consider facilitating further shale gas drilling by authorizing water withdrawal permits in the absence of a full, science-­based understanding of the above problems with fracking and measures to prevent them. It should halt new water withdrawal permits for gas operators until an impacts study is finished and its conclusions integrated into agency planning.

    The SRBC is required by its Compact to not only regulate water use, but to also plan for the future and manage resources in a way that prevents significant negative impacts. The best way to accomplish these goals is for SRBC to follow through on its commitment to conduct a cumulative impacts study in 2013, and to make sure that study is broad and in-­depth, taking into account the many impacts on water from all stages of gas extraction, production, and transport. These impacts include: erosion and sedimentation; landscape changes; pollution in sensitive areas; transfers of water from the Susquehanna to other river basins; the permanent loss of freshwater through use in fracking.

    The Commission must engage the public in designing this impacts study. Citizens and experts have a lot of knowledge to offer on water resources and how shale gas operations affect them.

    The SRBC should post on its website complete applications for water withdrawals, including all supporting documentation on such factors as anticipated impacts and alternatives to what’s being proposed. This change will improve the transparency of the Commission’s decisions, and is the only way for the public to assess the impacts of proposed projects.

    The SRBC should also not approve any of the applications up for renewal without first carefully assessing the impacts of the withdrawals. In particular, SRBC should perform an “Aquatic Resource Survey” for every withdrawal application, including renewals, and consider other available data on the site in question. If a proposed withdrawal would have an adverse effect on water resources, it shouldn’t be authorized.

    The Commission should accept the proposed rule that requires water withdrawals from small waterways draining less than 10 sq. miles to remain within that watershed. This is a critical protection because the smaller the area, the less water can be removed without causing harm.

    Gas exploration activities may seem to be confined to one place, but can become very intense and widespread over time across the Basin, which makes it unacceptable for SRBC to keep considering one water withdrawal permit at a time without regard to other withdrawals that are happening.

    The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is pushing the EPA to declare the river impaired (I agree), as diseased and dying smallmouth bass indicate the level of harm already done to the magnificent Susquehanna River.

    SRBC, you are charged with protecting our water in our state. You are not charged with protecting industry.

  4. Erin permalink
    February 11, 2013 8:53 am

    My letter to the DRBC that I mailed hard copy:
    SRBC
    1721 N. Front Street
    Harrisburg, PA 17102–2391

    Dear SRBC:
    I am writing to request help in preventing proper oversight in water withdrawals related to horizontal slickwater hydraulic fracturing. I have recently learned our DEP is just now going to commission a study on radioactive materials brought up by the Marcellus Shale fracking. It’s a shame we did not wait. I learned from the journal of Nature that the methane released before it’s captured might be about 8-9%, making it worse than coal for climate change. I hear about the farmers fighting because their wells are dry, their home values are plummeting, their cattle are sterile, their bodies have rashes, but these concerns are being dismissed by the big Oil and Gas companies and residents can’t fight them in court without millions of dollars. From NPR I read how our own Governor had been paid over $900,000 during his 2010 campaign by the Gas companies and I question if he is thinking about my best interest. I see videos of silica dust falling from train cars in Wyalusing School District near a day care, and that silica dust is a human lung carcinogen. The New York Times is telling me there might not be enough water to support the drilling, and even with water recycling, the EPA is telling me that there are no treatment plants in PA capable of handling the radioactive waste. I just read last week that the DEP prohibits an individual from digging a hole and burying a bag of household trash on their property without a permit, but allows oil and gas companies to bury industrial waste about Pennsylvania at well pads without a permit only twenty inches above fresh drinking water. The list of questionable health issues goes on and on. So now I am appealing to you, SRBC, to enforce regulations that will protect the Susquehanna, as you have been chartered to do. Please halt all water withdrawals for fracking in the Susquehanna River Basin until the impacts study is finished and its conclusions integrated into agency planning. The SRBC should not facilitate further shale gas drilling by authorizing water withdrawal permits in the absence of a full, science-¬based understanding of these problems and measures to prevent them.
    I think one of my most basic feelings is that with wind, solar and geothermal energy, we don’t have nearly these same issues. We are not debating the lesser evil of injecting benzene, tolulene, arsenic, lead mercury and other carcinogens and endocrine disruptors or treating it in waste water plants; if these chemicals contaminate groundwater during any of the drilling process; what to do with substantial 1-5 millions of gallons freshwater withdrawals per frack; if there are air quality issues do to VOC emissions; what to do when the drilling boom is over (we still will need energy and now we will have towns with infrastructure to support drilling and no drillers left to occupy it.)

    We should be building the infrastructure to support renewables. The University of Delaware has shown that the US can be powered 90-99% of the time with a combination of solar and wind and storage options, at costs comparable with fossil fuel and nuclear mix used today. http://wwwp.dailyclimate.org/tdc-newsroom/2013/01/renewable-energy-solution

    I am asking you, please put an end to this debate and let us focus on a real green energy solution.

    Thank you for your time in considering my request.

  5. B Soltis permalink
    February 12, 2013 4:59 am

    Please protect the citizens of Pa from the disastrous effects of fracking on our water systems. Your decisions will have an extremely long-lasting impact on our quality of life, and the environment.

  6. Tamara Clements permalink
    February 12, 2013 9:34 am

    Fracking for gas is not a bridge but a gangplank to expediting climate change. The
    swift action to say yes to every docket by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, while sitting stone faced to our pleas is not the American way! Here is to hoping Lt. Cor. Chris Becking brings the conscience of our President to the table, with the bravery it will take, to stop the madness and protect to our waters.

  7. February 25, 2013 11:13 pm

    —— Iris, Although I will probably not make any friends by taking the following position but at some point a pipeline will have to be made, Responsibly. There are just far too many natural gas combustable engines already in play. I hold a VERY FIRM position for a complete Moratorium on Hydro-Fracturing, Fracking, or Frac whatever you want to call it but there is a separation though between that and just simply transporting LPG or Natural Gas in a move towards alternative fuels but putting a pipeline through Wetlands, State Forests/Preserves and Native American Lands along with many others I’m not mentioning is foolish. I see no need to “Cut down Forests” to run a pipeline, and that is why my best wishes will be with you tomorrow. —–www.noharmtothefarm.com

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