Appalachian Basin

Battling Hysteria – the XTO Hearing

All of you know how important it is for us to push back when the anti-gas forces launch their attacks and they have done so in the case of a very simple application by XTO for a water withdrawal in Deposit, New York that will be essential to launching natural gas exploration in the upper portion of the Delaware River basin.

We are fighting a lot of very idealogical folks, rich preservationists and plain old NIMBY types who would like to stop natural gas development in our area.  They have focused on what they see as a foot in the door with XTO’s application for a water withdrawal in Deposit, New York.  It’s a simple request, but the anti’s are reacting with their well known hysteric template.  You can read for yourself here and here.

As disingenuous (and, frankly, boring) as all this incessant demagoguery is, we must fight back, for our own sake.  Here is the DRBC docket on the issue, which lays out the facts and the proposed conditions associated with the withdrawal.

The anti’s have drawn a line in the sand and are busing in folks from urban areas to try to tell us what we can do with our water and how much economic development we can have.  Please help offset their tactics by attending to offer testimony.  You’ll have only two minutes to speak, so write it down and read it. Hearing details may be obtained here.  Consider the following points as you assemble your testimony (after the jump):


1. The application is for a water withdrawal. Treating it differently because the water will be used for natural gas development unfairly discriminates against economic development within the upper part of the Delaware River basin.

2. This water withdrawal permit is very small when put in perspective, requiring but a little over one-half of one percent (0.6%) of the average daily flow.

3. Moreover, many safeguards exist to protect the creek and other water users, such as minimum flow rate thresholds before water withdrawal can occur, and a maximum withdrawal rate of 500 gallons per minute.

4. This application, if approved, is still subject to further DRBC, New York State Department of Conservation, Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approvals as well as a water conservation program to minimize water withdrawals.

5. This application, if approved, will not authorize any other actions with respect to natural gas development, all of which must await the enactment of detailed DRBC and New York State Department of Conservation regulations.

6. Proposed DRBC conditions of approval ensure this withdrawal will be conducted in a safe manner that preserves flows required for fishing and other water uses.  These conditions  are based upon science, rather than speculative fears unrelated to the withdrawal.

7. Water withdrawn cannot be discharged back to the Delaware River basin or conveyed elsewhere without further DRBC or other state or Federal approvals, meaning any other activities associated with this withdrawal are subject to further regulation.

8. This proposed withdrawal must be approved now to make it possible for XTO to make timely application later for natural gas development once regulations applying to that activity have been enacted.  Such applications will require approved water sources.

9. Regional activists and special interest lobbies do not share the same priorities as our local communities. These outside groups are imposing their broader ideologies on local decisions, drowning out the voices of those impacted most.  DRBC’s decision must be based upon the facts at hand and sound science, both of which support approval.

10. This decision cannot be a popularity contest with voters from unaffected areas who have already claimed far more of the water for themselves.  Water permanently exported from the basin to New York City and New Jersey is 2,944 times the withdrawal proposed.

11. The same day the DRBC decided it needed another hearing on this application it approved a new withdrawal of a similar amount for a Montgomery County golf course.  Downstream recreation cannot trump job opportunities for upstream residents.

12. XTO will be utilizing four-hundredths of one percent (0.04%) of the total water New York City alone takes from the Delaware River Basin on a daily basis.

One final and very special point is this – the anti’s will, true to their traditional tactics, seek additional comment periods and additional hearings throughout the DRBC basin (e.g. Philadelphia, Allentown, etc.) for purposes of delaying the project to death and creating media spectacles, so please be sure to insist there be no further delays, comment periods or hearings. The tendency of the DRBC to constantly accommodate such obvious dilatory tactics is frustrating, to say the least.  It doesn’t happen with other types of applications and shouldn’t here either — but does, unfortunately.
The science is already plain.  It doesn’t change with the blowin’ in the wind (it is Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday; I couldn’t resist) so the likelihood of additional additional substantive comments is nil and there is no need for additional time or delay, unless the DRBC is intent on making this a popularity contest rather than a decision based on science — and we know that’s not the case with the Commissioners.

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