Pennsylvania Residents Appeal to Gov. Cuomo to Vote 'No' on SRBC Water Pipeline Proposal
With the public comment period soon to close on a controversial proposal under review by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC), concerned residents are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to use his representative’s vote on the SRBC to say “no” to this anti-environment, anti-consumer proposal. If the SRBC were to approve the proposal, a private corporation could evict dozens of residents of a Pennsylvania mobile home park and would sell millions of gallons of water a day to companies for the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing (fracking).
Residents of the Riverdale Mobile Home Park in Piatt Township, Pa. are facing possible eviction on June 1 in order to make way for an enormous water withdrawal facility operated by Aqua America’s Aqua Infrastructure, LLC. If the company gets its way, Aqua will be permitted to pipe 3 million gallons per day from the Susquehanna River basin to sell to oil and gas companies. These companies will then mix the water with toxic chemicals and blast it underground in the process of fracking, a dangerous, polluting natural gas drilling technique.
Kevin June, a resident of the Riverdale Mobile Home Park who is facing possible eviction, was less concerned with his own future than that of the community. “I’m worried about what will happen to my friends and neighbors here in the park, but I’m also concerned for the health and safety of this entire region,” June said. “The clean water they pipe away now will come back to us—through the ground, streams and tributaries—toxic and polluted. What about the food we eat that is irrigated by that water? What about the wildlife that drink that water? If our public officials here in Pennsylvania won’t stand up for us, hopefully others will.”
The vote of the governor’s representative on the four-member SRBC—the federal-interstate commission tasked with managing and protecting the resources of the Susquehanna River basin—will have ramifications beyond New York State. “Gov. Cuomo has the opportunity to stand up for citizens in the region, not the oil and gas industry,” said Jim Walsh, eastern region director of Food & Water Watch. “But while he claims to be taking a cautious approach to the possibility of allowing fracking in New York, Gov. Cuomo has yet to exhibit that caution with regard to the proposed water piping and fracking elsewhere in the Susquehanna River Basin.” President Obama, Pennsylvania Gov. Corbett and Maryland Gov. O’Malley also have representatives’ votes on the SRBC.
At a meeting today in Harrisburg, Pa., the SRBC accepted public comment on the Aqua Infrastructure/Susquehanna River basin water piping and sale proposal.
“Unfortunately, Gov. Corbett has let down the people of Pennsylvania by giving a green light to a corporation that seeks to take river water, a public natural resource, and sell it off to Big Oil and Gas polluters,” said Walsh. “But as a voting member of the SRBC, Gov. Cuomo has a golden chance now to stand up for his neighbors and the shared natural resources of the entire region.
“We urge Gov. Cuomo to seize this outstanding opportunity to burnish his reputation as a protector of our natural resources, a protector of the environment and a protector of the middle class, not just in New York but throughout the entire region,” Walsh continued. “We urge the same of President Obama and Gov. O’Malley.”
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By Kristen Fischer
It's going to be back-to-school time soon, but will children go into the classrooms?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) thinks so, but only as long as safety measures are in place.
Keeping Schools Safe<p>What will safer schools look like?</p><p>In a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2766822" target="_blank">JAMA article</a> published last month, <a href="https://www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/1781/joshua-m-sharfstein" target="_blank">Dr. Joshua Sharfstein</a>, a pediatrician and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, outlined suggestions — many of which are similar to AAP's.</p><p>Remote learning protocols must stay in place, especially as some schools stagger home and in-building learning. If another shutdown needs to occur, children will rely on distance learning completely, so it must be easy to switch to, he said.</p><p>He suggested giving parents a daily checklist to document their child's health. Kids should be screened quickly on arrival and be given hygiene supplies. Maintenance staff should use appropriate PPE and have regular cleaning schedules. A notification system should be in place if a case is identified, Sharfstein recommended.</p><p><a href="https://www.albany.edu/rockefeller/faculty/erika-martin" target="_blank">Erika Martin</a>, PhD, an associate professor of public administration and policy at University at Albany, said nutrition assistance and health services should be included. She called for tutoring programs with virtual options as well as technology access.</p>
Supporting Staff<p>Teachers and staff will be affected by safeguarding measures, noted <a href="https://directory.sph.umn.edu/bio/sph-a-z/rachel-widome" target="_blank">Rachel Widome</a>, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota.</p><p>"In order for all of the in-school precautions to work well, we'll be asking a lot of teachers and staff," Widome told Healthline. In addition to their usual workload, they'll now be asked to monitor mask-wearing, ensure children are keeping distance, and be aware of any symptoms.</p><p>Along with Sharfstein, Widome called for an increase in financial support. More employees will likely be required so teachers and staff members can keep up with the added demands.</p>
Should Kids Go Back?<p>While these guidelines may help get some schools to reopen, many people don't think children should go back to school over fears they could contract the disease and spread it to other vulnerable family members like grandparents, infant siblings, or their parents.</p><p>In a <a href="https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2020/07/08/peds.2020-004879" target="_blank">Pediatrics</a> commentary, <a href="https://www.md.com/doctor/william-raszka-md" target="_blank">Dr. William V. Raszka, Jr.</a>, an infectious disease specialist at The University of Vermont Medical Center, argued that schools should open because school-aged children are far less important drivers of COVID-19 than adults.</p><p>But he says the risk and benefit is not equal among all students ages 5 to 18.</p><p>"Elementary schools are arguably higher priority for face-to-face schooling, since younger children are at lower risk for infection and transmission, and since parental supervision of younger children's distance learning may be particularly challenging," added Sorensen, who penned a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/channels/health-forum/fullarticle/2767411" target="_blank">June article in JAMA</a> with reopening tips. "That means middle and high schools are more likely to emphasize distance learning."</p><p>Specific student populations, such as special education students and students with disabilities, would also benefit greatly from more time spent in face-to-face environments, Sorensen said.</p>
What Parents Can Do<p>Parents should ask for and receive frequent updates from schools about plans for the fall. They should also be informed about plans if and when COVID infections are identified, Sharfstein said.</p><p>"I'd like to see parents investing now, during the summer, in doing things that can slow and stop the spread of the virus in their communities," Widome said.</p><p>"Now is a good time for kids to practice wearing masks and get used to them as they may be wearing them for longer stretches if school starts up in person," Widome suggested.</p><p>She recommends parents try different mask designs and materials to see what children are more comfortable wearing.</p><p>"If you are using cloth face coverings, it's good to have extras on hand," Widome added.</p><p>Parents should model healthy behavior at home and while out in public — another thing that could affect how well children adapt to reopening practices, Sorensen said.</p><p>"Children may want to know more about face coverings," added <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/leescott/" target="_blank">Lee Scott</a>, chairwoman of the Educational Advisory Board at <a href="https://www.goddardschool.com/" target="_blank">The Goddard School</a>. "Dramatic play, such as creating or wearing a face covering, may help some children adjust to this concept." Schools can also show children photos of what faculty members look like in their masks so the students are familiar with that appearance.</p><p>Johns Hopkins University recently released its eSchool+ Initiative, a slew of resources surrounding education during the pandemic. These include a <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-checklist/" target="_blank">checklist for administrators</a>, report on <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/ethics-of-reopening/" target="_blank">ethical considerations</a>, and a tracker of <a href="https://equityschoolplus.jhu.edu/reopening-policy-tracker/" target="_blank">state and local reopening plans</a>.</p>
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By Eoin Higgins
Over 300 groups on Monday urged Senate leadership to reject a bill currently under consideration that would incentivize communities to sell off their public water supplies to private companies for pennies on the dollar.
<div id="fea63" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9a6f211c2bc5aedd34837944cb8eeedf"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1281000111481294849" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Water in Illinois is overwhelmingly public. Why is Tammy Duckworth sponsoring a bill that aims to change that? https://t.co/1V36Kkd99s</div> — The American Prospect (@The American Prospect)<a href="https://twitter.com/TheProspect/statuses/1281000111481294849">1594249201.0</a></blockquote></div>
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