American Rivers has designated the Susquehanna River the nation’s most endangered river, primarily because of water withdrawals and pollution from gas development. In July, water levels in the river dropped so low that the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) had to suspend all withdrawal permits.
Yet the SRBC continues to move in the wrong direction, continually making it easier for gas companies to get permits and opening the door to more drilling despite all the pollution and violations caused by the gas industry. The Commission’s recently proposed rules on water use, re-use, and well permits are unfortunately no different.
Now residents and concerned citizens (especially in Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania, across which the Susquehanna flows) have a chance to tell the commissioners that their job is to protect the Susquehanna and the millions of people who rely on the river for drinking water, farming, tourism, and recreation not to make things more convenient for the gas industry.
SRBC is taking written comments on its proposed rules until August 23. Use the points below to craft your own personalized email or letter. Submit it to Richard A. Cairo, Susquehanna River Basin Commission, 1721 N. Front Street, Harrisburg, PA 17102-2391, or by email to email@example.com.
If you don t have time for full comments, just email firstname.lastname@example.org right away and say that the public comment period on the proposed rules should be extended another 30 days just like many individuals and organizations have asked.
You can also comment in person at a public hearing on Thursday, August 4, 2011 at 7:00 p.m., at the Holiday Inn in Binghamton, NY (2-8 Hawley Street).
1. The SRBC has allowed gas drilling to accelerate across the Susquehanna basin without strong protections or assessing the impacts of expanded gas drilling over time.
2. The proposed rules would expedite more permits through an approval by rule process and use this process for new types of gas projects. This is wrong because it would greatly weaken public scrutiny and input, including by those directly impacted by well development and the gas industry’s water use and discharges.
3. The Commission wants to make permits issued through approval by rule good for 15 years (instead of the current 5). Gas companies use a lot of water, produce large amounts of wastewater, and pose a high risk of spills and contamination making it critical to review permits and operator practices more frequently.
4. The Commission must conduct individual review of the transport of toxic flowback and wastewater from one well to another whenever there’s a risk of contamination to the basin not just make it easier to do so.