Deposit school to host DRBC hearing on fracking in the Delaware River Basin

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Above: The approximate location of the area XTO Energy is seeking to take water from, in the town of Sanford, Broome County. From Google Maps.

As we reported earlier this month, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) is weighing whether to grant a permit to XTO Energy to take water from the Oquaga Creek, a tributary of the West Branch of the Delaware River. The water would be used for hydraulic fracturing in Broome and Delaware Counties.

The DRBC was scheduled to vote on XTO's permit application on May 11. But under pressure from gas drilling opponents, the DRBC voted to postpone the decision until a public hearing could be held in the area affected by the drilling and water withdrawal. That meeting has now been scheduled; it will take place on June 1, at the Deposit High School Auditorium, 171 Second Street, Deposit, N.Y. from 4:45 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

A press release issued by the DRBC last week contains instructions for how to testify at the hearing:

Registration for those who wish to testify at the hearing will begin at 3:30 p.m. when the doors open. There will be no inside access to the school building prior to 3:30 p.m. Registration will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Because a  large number of individuals are expected to register to speak, commenters will be limited to two minutes each. It is estimated that approximately 120 speakers can be heard within the allotted time period. Oral testimony may be supplemented with written comments submitted at the hearing or provided to the commission on or before June 1. Oral and written comments will receive the same consideration by the commissioners prior to any action on the proposal.

Catskill Mountainkeeper, one of the leading opponents of hydraulic fracturing in the region, sent out an email today announcing the meeting. The email urged Mountainkeeper's members to put pressure on the DRBC to study the potential impacts of gas drilling before finalizing regulations:

The DRBC, the federal/interstate government agency responsible for managing the water resources within the 13,539 square-mile Delaware River Basin has been moving towards finalizing regulations to allow and govern widespread shale gas production using high-volume hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling, within the Basin's area without conducting common sense, legally required environmental studies. The decision to delay on Exxon Mobil’s request for 30 days, while a positive development, is not an indication that the DRBC is prepared to seriously consider an environmental impact study as Catskill Mountainkeeper and many environmental organizations and elected officials are demanding.