Appalachian Basin

*UPDATE (Great Video)* With So Much Drama in the DRBC …

I wish I could start by telling all of you that the DRBC hearing Wednesday in Deposit resulted in an approval for XTO’s water permit pending the release of final rules from NY DEC later this summer. But unfortunately, we will have to wait until July 13 for final word on the XTO application, because DRBC will not decide on the matter until then. What I can tell you, though, is how great a day it was for the pro-jobs, pro-environment supporters of natural gas in Broome and Delaware counties.

We had an awesome turnout both at the Masonic Lodge and at the hearing itself. At the lodge, around 30-40 local residents discussed what they would be saying and organized their thoughts over lunch, out of the sweltering heat of the day. The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York also brought quite the contingency to show support for their Delaware and Broome County members. This was a great opportunity for them to get together beforehand, since most lived in the area and did not have the benefit of sitting together for hours on a bus like a lot of the opposition folks who were shipped in for the event.  Gotta tip your hat to those folks — they came from everywhere (NYC, Philly, Allentown, Pittsburgh) except Broome County. All together, there were probably around 300-400 present for the hearing — right around a 50/50 split among those who support responsible development and those who oppose it.  Follow me through the jump for some more.

People on both sides waited for hours outside Deposit High School for the gates to be opened and their opportunity to sign up to speak. We supplied water for the local residents, many of whom came in vehicles that were decorated with signs and banners in support of tapping this American resource.  Despite the rule against bringing signs into the school itself, many of the “fractivists” tried (and succeeded) in smuggling theirs in, but once detected, were quickly dispatched (the signs, not the people!) by DRBC officials.

The hearing began with a presentation by the DRBC outlining the 30+ conditions that XTO would need to follow should the permit be approved. They then held a question and answer session that focused on the technical aspects of the withdrawal — but as you’d expect, that discussion didn’t much interest the activist crowd. Instead, they continued to ask why DRBC would even hold such a hearing in the first place, especially in light of the NY attorney general’s pending lawsuit (click here for a great letter from the Army Corps of Engineers essentially schooling the current NY AG on what the law actually says).

Another question came from a girl was quite clearly bused-up for the afternoon’s events — “can I, like, drink the water?,” she asked. When asked to clarify she said, “You know, if I go to the creek, can I drink the water.” To which the gentleman sitting next to me replied: “If she lived around here she would know it’s pretty muddy right now,” which left me laughing and caused me to miss the official DRBC response. XTO representatives were present and had a table where they welcomed questions from anyone that had any.

As for the actual comment period, I am proud to say that the first 21 speakers stood up in support of XTO’s application, and not a one went over the allotted 2 minutes! These testimonies were predominately given by elected officials from Broome and Delaware Counties who represent the best interests of their constituents in those areas. It was great to see so many officials take a stand for the people they represent. Testimony supporting the withdrawal urged DRBC to stick to the facts and science, and not be swayed by special interest groups who have no direct stake in the decision.  Check out what Rick Williams had to say as just one example:

As for the opposition folks, their testimony was as predictable as it was repetitive — which each new speaker attempting to turn a water issue into a hydraulic fracturing debate and questioning why the hearing was even being held.  Many attempted to go over their 2 minute time limit and some even talked and jeered so loudly during supportive testimony that one individual, Vic from the JLCNY, stopped and walked off in protest instead of allowing them to continue to be so rude. Although we may have rolled an eye or two while the anti- folks spoke, not a single one of them were heckled. That’s not what grown-ups do.

All in all, though, it was a good day. It is amazing how many local people came out to take a stand, and only time will tell if their efforts paid off. Hopefully, the DRBC will follow suit and come to the conclusion that it is time to take a stand as well.

Please keep a lookout for videos of the testimony which we will be linking up in the next few days. We won’t be showing all 5.5 hours of the hearing, but we’ll give you a glimpse into the proceedings of the day. Have a great weekend everyone, especially those of you from the JLC planning to crash the gates at the Big Splash Concert!


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