ExxonMobile has a sneaky fracking plan for the mighty and scenic DELAWARE RIVER that supplies the drinking water for more than 15 million Americans, including in NYC and Philadelphia.
ExxonMobil subsidiary XTO Energy has applied for a permit to take 250,000 gallons of water every day for natural gas development, HYDRO FRACKING, in Broome and Delaware Counties of New York, just from the Oquaga Creek, a native trout stream that flows to the West Branch of the Delaware River. The vote and hearing were hastily scheduled for this Wednesday, May 11 at a Delaware River Basin Commission meeting in West Trenton, NJ, 4 hours away from the site of withdrawal. DRBC is the Federal/State agency that regulates the 13,500 square mile Delaware River Basin that stretches from NY’s Delaware County south to the Delaware Bay. The DRBC, whose members include the Army Corps of Engineers, Commission Chairman DE Gov. Jack Markall, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, PA Gov. Tom Corbett, NJ Gov. Chris Christie, has the legal authority over activities that may substantially affect water resources within the Basin.
The Delaware is the longest un-dammed river east of the Mississippi, flowing freely for 330 miles. It begins in New York and flows through Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware to the Atlantic Ocean. The Upper Delaware was named America's most endangered river of 2010 because of the Marcellus gas rush.
Last month NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman threatened to sue the Federal government over (lack of) hydrofracking regulations.
ACTION steps below the fold. Primer on fracking with many links below that.
Among the many issues of concern with fracking is the enormous use of clean, fresh water: 1-3,000,000 gallons are required to frack every well, every time. This action diary is about that clean water use, called water withdrawal.
Mobilized citizens have been very effective changing press coverage and elected officials' stance on fracking from full steam ahead/show me the money, to some caution and even a temporary moratorium in NY. Granting XTO/Exxon Mobil water withdrawal rights prematurely would be a bad decision for environmental and process reasons, and could create a dangerous precedent.
Why ACT now?
At a minimum, the DRBC’s rushed handling of this XTO Energy application is inappropriate. They scheduled a vote on this enormous water withdrawal from a modest creek without a study of its effects on the environment, wildlife, local agriculture and industry, including recreation, or local communities. They have not provided sufficient time for public comment. Further, they are preempting the regulatory process of NY State where drafting of rules regarding gas drilling is currently taking place.
The public was given just 10 working days notice and the Trenton hearing location is over 4 hours from the affected site, making it difficult for local residents to speak about the proposed withdrawal and the effects on the trout and other stream life, ecology and water quality of this richly diverse creek and on the downstream West Branch and main stem Delaware River.
The haste to consider giving XTO/ExxonMobil permits to withdraw water is unwarranted as they do not have permits to drill gas wells and have not even applied for permits in NY State and the Basin. So what's the rush?
This is clearly an industry gambit to preempt regulations that New York State has in development. They hoped people wouldn't notice but residents of the affected states, people who visit and recreate in the region or are concerned about clean water use for hydrofracking should weigh in, now.
What YOU can do
Take action now to protect clean drinking water, the environment and local communities. Put Federal and State officials on notice that our WATER is not for sale.
• SIGN THE PETITION
• CALL and email Governor Andrew Cuomo (518) 474-8390. Tell him DRBC must hold off until the completion of a NY State regulatory process. Write Attorney General Atty Gen Eric Schneiderman with the same message 1-800-771-7755 (also email email@example.com )
THEY can stop this precipitous DRBC vote.
• Attend the ONLY public hearing at 1:30 PM, May 11, at 40 W. Upper Ferry Rd, West Trenton, NJ, the West Trenton Volunteer Fire Co. Schedule a time to speak in advance by contacting Paula Schmitt at 609 883-9500 ex. 224 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell her you want to speak on the Exxon Mobil XTO proposed Docket.
• Call Congress, ask your Reps to co-sponsor the FRAC Act
– Although the Frac Act was introduced in 2009 and just re-introduced by Reps. Diana DeGette D-CO, Maurice Hinchey D-NY, and Jared Polis D-CO, fracking is STILL exempt from Clean Water and Right to Know laws, as are many “energy company” activities.
• FAX a letter to the DRBC today at (609) 883-9522 and tell them either to table the vote and set up a public hearing with a 60-day minimum comment period, or to vote against the approval. Tell the DRBC to schedule public hearings near the Oquaga Creek so affected citizens can participate in the process.
Sample letter to DRBC:
Carol Collier, Executive Director
Delaware River Basin Commission
P.O. BOX 7360
West Trenton, NJ 08628-0360
Re: XTO Energy, Inc., D-2010-022-1
Dear Ms. Collier and Commission Members,
I oppose the approval of XTO Energy’s (ExxonMobil Corp.) application for a water withdrawal of 0.25 million gallons of water per day from the Oquaga Creek in Broome County, NY for gas drilling in Broome and Delaware Counties.
The DRBC is analyzing the impacts of gas drilling and has a drilling moratorium in place while developing gas regulations that could affect this withdrawal proposal; New York Department of Environmental Conservation is in the midst of conducting an environmental review of the gas development practices that this water would be used for. It is untimely and irresponsible to approve this withdrawal while these deliberations are ongoing.
The people in Broome and Delaware Counties have an undeniable stake in this creek, its watershed and the region. This withdrawal and the drilling it will support will indelibly change that area. Yet you are refusing to hold a Hearing there. This is unacceptable and denies many people of their right to participate in the decision making process. I request that you set a Public Hearing in the Oquaga Creek region, just as you had a local hearing for the West Branch Lackawaxen River withdrawal in 2010. Further, you have only given 10 working days notice of your proposed approval; this deprives everyone, including the 15 million people who ultimately rely on the Delaware River for drinking water, of a meaningful public process.
The fresh water flows of this vibrant creek provide essential habitat for trout and other special species and the watershed provides groundwater supplies that could be impacted by this depletive withdrawal. The Oquaga is an important recreational resource and feeds healthy cold water flows to the West Branch and main stem Delaware, supporting the exceptional water quality of the Delaware River. Who says gas drilling is more important?
I respectfully request that this approval not be approved, that a meaningful public participation process be scheduled, that the Oquaga Creek be protected, and that the moratorium remain in place on gas drilling in the Delaware River Watershed.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment.
[Print and sign your name, address and date]
Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter (NY State) Gas Task Force action page
Fracking primer to get you started:
To extract the Marcellus Shale gas, industrial gas mining must employ horizontal drilling with the hydraulic fracturing technique invented by Halliburton, shorthanded as “fracking.” Industry animation The natural gas trapped within the Marcellus formation underlies NY, PA, Ohio, VA, WV, MD, TN and Lake Erie.
Gas drilling companies are rushing to profit. They are lobbying hard to maintain their exemptions from Federal environmental laws, and secure their leases and permits before State agencies can put regulations in place. Some states like Pennsylvania allow hydrofracking under State forests in hopes of closing the budget gap, New Yorkers have sued hoping to prevent this
You’ve likely seen the oil & gas industry PR campaign happy-talk advertisements about hundreds of years of “clean energy” "readily available" under the Appalachian Mountains, and probably already know that “fracking” is pretty controversial and not quite as green as industry claimed. Among the serious issues that accompany fracking, in addition to the immense withdrawals of fresh water, are:
methane escape contributing to climate change
toxic fracking chemicals
ground water pollution from spilled or dumped frack waste or "brine", more
and even earthquakes
BIG NEWS: 5/9 ProPublica reports researchers from Duke have linked fracking to nearby water wells, the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (FINALLY!) http://www.propublica.org/...