Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Natural Gas Industry Gets Water Permits for Fracking While Science and Public Get Ignored

Energy
Natural Gas Industry Gets Water Permits for Fracking While Science and Public Get Ignored

Earthworks

As the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) conducts its quarterly business meeting today, a coalition of organizations strongly criticized the agency for prohibiting public comment at the event and continuing to issue water permits for the natural gas industry without taking measures to prevent negative impacts across the Basin.

In a March 9 letter to SRBC, the groups said that full public participation at all meetings is necessary for the Commission to receive valuable public and expert input, have current information to consider in its permit reviews, and, as a public agency, to maintain transparent decision-making. (The full text of the letter is available by clicking here).

The Commissioners represent Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania, as well as the federal government through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. But at a recent hearing on 40 water withdrawal permits to support the natural gas industry, only the Commission chair (from Pennsylvania) was present and comment was taken by a hearing officer.

This highlighted growing concern that SRBC is violating its mandate to operate on the basis of equal, joint involvement by all member states. SRBC continues to approve permits and will soon put in place weak regulations to promote shale gas development in Pennsylvania—even though the other two members, Maryland and New York, haven’t decided whether to even allow it to occur. And by not conducting any studies to determine the effects of the industry across the Basin over time, SRBC is ignoring its legal requirement for long-term planning. (These points are detailed in a document available here).

“As drilling explodes across the Basin, communities and the environment are being harmed. It’s no wonder that residents are speaking out, taking a closer look at the work of the SRBC, and turning out for meetings like never before,” says Nadia Steinzor, Marcellus regional organizer for Earthworks’ Oil and Gas Accountability Project. “SRBC should face this new reality and do what it takes to support productive public participation and protect the water resources with which they’re entrusted.”

“The Commissioners should take the time to consider and respond to citizen comments. The public has invested time and expense in coming before the Commission to speak and the public should be heard,” said Thomas Au, conservation chair of Pennsylvania Sierra Club.

“The SRBC needs to stop the premature authorization of growth-inducing actions like the shale gas-related water withdrawals on March 15th's docket,” said Guy Alsentzer, staff attorney for Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper. “The Commission must first take the initiative to study shale gas development's impacts on water resources and water resources management on a Basin-wide scale and incorporate those findings into its decision-making. Only by doing so can it fulfill its Compact and regulatory duties to preserve water quantity and quality for present and future generations.”

“SRBC should stop rushing to judgment on these huge water withdrawal permit applications. These proposed withdrawals are not happening in isolation,” said Myron Arnowitt, Pennsylvania State director for Clean Water Action. “SRBC needs to stop approving individual permits and conduct a study on the cumulative impact of full scale gas extraction on the entire Susquehanna watershed. These decisions affect residents in three states and should not be made without conducting real, science-based study.”

“The routine approval of water withdrawals for drilling and fracking in the Susquehanna River Watershed by the SRBC is resulting in water and air pollution and community degradation, and yet the SRBC is not addressing the outcomes from their decisions. They cannot bury their heads in the sand while the air and water of the Basin are polluted and people are getting sick,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper. “The SRBC should not approve the proposed water withdrawals and instead enact a moratorium while they address the damaging fallout from gas extraction and put in place a plan to protect and restore the Susquehanna River Watershed. The degradation from gas in the Susquehanna affects us all and it’s time to stop it.”

For more information, click here.

54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Maria Symchych-Navrotska / Getty Images

By Pamela Davis-Kean

With in-person instruction becoming the exception rather than the norm, 54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Initial projections from the Northwest Evaluation Association, which conducts research and creates commonly used standardized tests, suggest that these fears are well-grounded, especially for children from low-income families.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A teenager reads a school English assignment at home after her school shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 22, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York. Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis via Getty Images

The pandemic has affected everyone, but mental health experts warn that youth and teens are suffering disproportionately and that depression and suicide rates are increasing.

Read More Show Less

Trending

In an ad released by Republican Voters Against Trump, former coronavirus task force member Olivia Troye roasted the president for his response. Republican Voters Against Trump / YouTube

Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less
Climate Group

Every September for the past 11 years, non-profit the Climate Group has hosted Climate Week NYC, a chance for business, government, activist and community leaders to come together and discuss solutions to the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
A field of sunflowers near the Mehrum coal-fired power station, wind turbines and high-voltage lines in the Peine district of Germany on Aug. 3, 2020. Julian Stratenschulte / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Elliot Douglas

The coronavirus pandemic has altered economic priorities for governments around the world. But as wildfires tear up the west coast of the United States and Europe reels after one of its hottest summers on record, tackling climate change remains at the forefront of economic policy.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch