URGENT: Testify to the SRBC on Feb 14; Submit Comments by Feb 25
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 email@example.com, 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.