For decades, gas and oil companies have enjoyed seemingly unshakeable influence over policy and politicians. So it s nice to think that they might be paying attention to recent events, in which citizens have spoken so loudly and clearly that decisionmakers have been forced to listen.
Yesterday, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) voted unanimously to temporarily table a request by XTO Energy (ExxonMobil Corp.) to withdraw 250,000 gallons of water a day from a stream in Broome County, NY known for its unique trout habitat. It wasn t a full meeting agenda that did it but the receipt of over 7,000 emails and hundreds of letters in just over a week from residents and organizations across the region, thanks to an outreach push by Delaware Riverkeeper Network and its allies.
The key argument made was that issuing the permit would be premature and risky given the current moratorium on drilling permits in the Basin and work now underway to assess the impacts of gas development, including water withdrawal. Hopefully the commissioners will ultimately heed this logic; they'll certainly have another chance to hear it from more residents because they did agree to another citizen ask: to hold a public hearing on the application in the area that would be most impacted by the withdrawal.
The Clean Water Not Dirty Drilling coalition (of which EARTHWORKS is a part) today issued a call to action:
The DRBC has issued draft drilling regulations -- without scheduling hearings that are easily accessible by many of the people affected by the regs.
Furthermore, they are proceeding with the rules without full information. For example, the EPA is studying the potential links between hydraulic fracturing and groundwater pollution.
The gas will be there -- it's not going anywhere. If they wait, the worst thing that could happen is that the gas will be extracted in the same way -- a bit later. The best? Safer drilling. Or even truly clean alternatives. Things worth waiting for, I think we can almost all agree.
So send a letter to the DRBC (or learn more about the issue). Visit the Clean Water Not Dirty Drilling action page.