Two Days Remaining….

Please make sure your voice is heard by Wednesday! This is a very well written letter by Don Williams and I encourage you all to write your own or contact me for a template you can use.

At midnight on Wednesday, October 7th, the period for public comment on a permit request to dump treated gas well waste water into the Susquehanna River will close. Last week, about 60 residents gathered at the local DEP office to speak out against this permit. It is my sincere hope that you might also be willing to send an email to DEP expressing your concern over this planned toxic waste discharge into the river. Your message need not be long. Two or three sentences are sufficient. It is necessary to include your full name and mailing address in the text of the message. Please state clearly that you are opposed to allowing TerrAqua to dump treated water into the river. Addresses and a sample message appears at the bottom of this FreshMail.

At last week’s public hearing, those in attendance spontaneously broke into applause at the close of Don Williams’ prepared statement. Perhaps his views (below, in italic) will give you some food for thought as to what you might say to DEP officials.

Gas well drilling is here to stay. It is my belief that the industry’s presence here is a greater threat to public health than anything I have ever seen in my lifetime. All the organic food and vitamins in the world cannot counter balance the toxins we will all be exposed to. If you live in Pennsylvania, you will be impacted. Please be willing to stay informed and take action whenever the opportunity arises. Begin now. Thank you.

Barb Jarmoska

Good evening. I’m Don Williams of Harleysville, PA, and I appreciate the opportunity to speak tonight. I am a native and citizen of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and my ongoing education includes a bachelor’s degree in earth and environmental sciences from Wilkes College. In 2005, I partnered with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and American Rivers to name the Susquehanna River as the most endangered river in the nation. It appears we may be soon approaching that point again.

As an environmentalist who witnessed and participated in the first earth day, I continue to marvel at the infinite wisdom of Rachel Carson’s choice of three simple words – web of life – to describe all of nature. Almost 40 year after the first earth day – we are now at a point where this commonwealth’s commitment to protecting the environment is – in truth – heading toward where it was 40 years prior to 1970. In the present day Marcellus Shale frenzy, we are once again striking a Faustian bargain at the expense of our natural resources, jeopardizing the quality of our land and our waters in exchange for the false promise of jobs and fleeting economic prosperity for a limited few.

A detailed DEP study done earlier this year concluded that about 980,000 pounds per day of assimilative capacity remains for total dissolved solids on the West Branch. TerrAqua’s draft discharge permit allows between 54,412 and 522,245 pounds per day of total dissolved solids to be discharged to the river.

Let’s crunch these numbers a little further. This equates to 15.7 million pounds of solids – containing far too many unknowns – being dumped into the west branch of the Susquehanna every month. That’s about 95 tons per year. And that’s from one treatment plant. If we continue to accept frackwater in a growing number of new treatment plants on the north branch as well, what will our watershed, and our waters, look like next year…or 5 years from now, and what will we leave as our legacy for future generations?  Where is the tipping point of assimilative capacity? I certainly don’t know, however, having studied numerous detailed environmental modeling failures over the past three decades, I truly do not believe the DEP knows either.

In May 1971, just about one year after the first earth day, the following amendment was added to the Constitution of this commonwealth:

“The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.”

Webster’s defines pure as: “unmixed with any other matter” and conserve as: “avoid wasteful or destructive use of”. So far, from my perspective, it appears that many of our state and federal agencies have differing views on exactly what these words mean.

I am fully opposed to the further degradation of the Susquehanna River by any action or from any source. Further, until there is a complete disclosure of any and all chemicals used in the horizontal hydro fracturing process, I am requesting that any action on any/all frackwater treatment plant applications be suspended indefinitely.

As a citizen of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and per our Constitution, I believe these are our lands these are our waters. What is happening throughout the Susquehanna and Delaware and Ohio watersheds today, and how we react to it, will be our legacy to those generations yet to come. I believe that the “state of independence” is much, much more than a tourism slogan. From Dimock to Dunkard Creek, from Lake Otsego to the Chesapeake Bay, and from Harrisburg to Washington, we must do all that is necessary to ensure our gift to the future includes cleaner waters, cleaner air, and a Penn’s Woods we will be proud to leave behind. Thank you.


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