DRBC postpones decision on XTO water withdrawal permit

Yesterday, we reported that the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) was considering granting a permit to ExxonMobil subsidiary XTO Energy to withdraw water for hydraulic fracturing from a trout stream in Broome County. According to a press release from Delaware Riverkeeper, the DRBC has tabled the decision for a future meeting.

XTO's permit application was on the docket for today's meeting. According to the draft docket from the DRBC describing the application, the company is seeking to withdraw up to 250,000 gallons a day from the Oquaga Creek, most of which would be used to stimulate horizontal and/or vertical natural gas wells by hydraulic fracturing in Delaware and Broome Counties.

Neither the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation nor the DRBC itself has finalized the regulations that will ultimately govern any horizontal drilling in New York State. Anti-fracking activists were fiercely critical of the DRBC's decision to consider granting a permit to XTO while both agencies still have a moratorium on any horizontal drilling in their jurisdictions. Apparently, the DRBC has decided to allow more public comment before making a decision on XTO's application.

From a press release issued today by Delaware Riverkeeper, which also submitted public comment to the DRBC opposing the granting of XTO's application:


Since April 28 when the DRBC announced their intention to vote on the water withdrawal at their regularly scheduled May 11 meeting where a Public Hearing would be held on the draft permit, thousands of letters have been pouring into the DRBC against the proposal. The lack of the opportunity for public participation in the decision making was roundly criticized since there was only 10 working days notice of the vote on the withdrawal and no hearing in the Oquaga Creek or Broome County/Delaware County, NY region. Action alerts to urge comments on the project to the DRBC were issued by many organizations, including Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s website.

The DRBC voted unanimously at 6:00 pm at the close of the Public Hearing to keep the public record open from now until a public hearing is held in the Broome County, NY region within 30 days. The date, time and place of the Broome County public hearing will be announced soon.

Here's Delaware Riverkeeper's whole press release on Scribd.