XTO Energy (ExxonMobile) wants to take 0.25 million gallons of water per day from Oquaga Creek, a trout stream that flows to the West Branch of the Delaware River in Broome and Delaware Counties to develop natural gas wells they plan to drill there. The withdrawal site is on land owned by the Town of Sanford, which has given them access. There is no permit required by NY State; the DRBC provides the only review of this withdrawal.
Approval of this application is SO WRONG for many reasons including: wrong for the Oquaga Creek and the Delaware River; wrong because there is a moratorium on toxic gas drilling in the Delaware River Watershed and on horizontal drilling/hydrofracking in New York; wrong because there has not been any comprehensive environmental review of immediate and cumulative impacts of gas development in the Delaware River Basin.
For a copy of DRN’s comment on the XTO application to the DRBC go to: http://delawareriverkeeper.org/resources/Comments/XTO%20Comment%205.11.11.pdf
How can the DRBC approve this water withdrawal during its gas drilling moratorium, while its draft gas rules are pending and while New York has a hold on its generic permit for hydraulically fractured-horizontally drilled gas wells while it completes its environmental review? How can they justify pushing this approval ahead when the rules could very well change how this application will be treated? XTO has no permits for gas wells and has not justified its need for any water, much less 250,000 gallons of water every day from this cold water trout stream. What’s the rush?
A comprehensive environmental impact study that examines how natural gas development will impact the water resources and natural assets of the Delaware River Watershed must be done prior to any permits for gas related projects and before any gas regulations are adopted. These studies, some of them now ongoing, need to inform regulations so that pollution can be prevented and degradation of the River and its Watershed avoided.
New York State is supposed to protect Oquaga Creek, a trout stream, by applying “special requirements to sustain waters that support these valuable and sensitive fisheries resources under NYSDEC Protection of Waters regulations” (DRBC Docket D-2010-022-1, XTO, p. 2). Where is this protection? How will this withdrawal affect the trout, benthic life, and water quality of this richly diverse creek and of the downstream West Branch and main stem Delaware that need the cold fresh flows of the Oquaga to support stream life and water supplies downstream? Neither New York nor the DRBC has analyzed this or supplied an answer. This is flat out wrong.
Speak out and write now to demand: No water withdrawal for gas and protection for the Oquaga Creek! You can make verbal comment at the June 1 Public Hearing and submit a letter by email to email@example.com. Make sure to insert “XTO Energy” in the subject line.
Overwhelming public sentiment for more public participation regarding the water withdrawal application by XTO Energy (a subsidiary of ExxonMobil Corp.) for natural gas development in Broome and Delaware Counties, NY led the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to set another hearing near the withdrawal location and to leave the public comment record open until the close of that Hearing on June 1, 2011. Citizens told the DRBC they were railroading the approval through so they shelved the application at their regularly scheduled meeting May 11. And the number of letters submitted is approaching 9,000 in less than a month - we need to keep the pressure on to fight this water grab by Exxon so please write a letter now!
For Locals Wanting to Attend the Hearing In Person
Local Residents near and in the Delaware River Watershed can join us in-person at the public hearing scheduled for June 1 in Deposit, NY. The hearing will be held 3:30 - 9:00 at Deposit High School Auditorium 171 Second Street, Deposit, NY 13754. Arrive early if you want to sign up to speak.
Get on the Bus for Clean Water! A FREE charter bus will start out from the Philadelphia area on Wednesday with stops to pick up people on the way north to the Deposit, NY hearing. Seating is limited and those first to sign on will help dictate bus pick up locations! Call 215-369-1188 ext 110 for more details or if you want to get on the bus to speak out for the Delaware River Watershed!
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. A comprehensive environmental study, including near term and cumulative impacts of gas development on the Delaware River’s resources, needs yet to be done. 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 and it will impact everyone downstream, including the 15 million people who ultimately rely on the Delaware River for drinking water. While it is right that you extended the comment period, it is still only 25 business days—it should be extended to 90 days. And public hearings need to be held throughout the Basin so that all populations affected can participate fully.
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 permit not be approved, that comprehensive environmental studies be done, that the Oquaga Creek be protected, that no gas related projects be allowed to proceed so that the moratorium remains in place on gas drilling in the Delaware River Watershed.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment.