Over chants, panel OKs withdrawing Susquehanna water for fracking

    There were shouts, but no clashes between protesters and police at the meeting of commissioners in charge of granting energy companies permission to take water out of the Susquehanna River Basin for the sake of hydraulic fracturing.

    The roughly 25 anti-fracking demonstrators attending the Susquehanna River Basin Commission meeting Thursday in Harrisburg were quiet, almost sedate, for the first 25 minutes of the public meeting.

    When the commission’s final agenda item – project applications — was announced, there was a rustling from the gallery.

    Then, as the commission voted to approve water withdrawal permits, protesters chanted, “I pledge to protect the Susquehanna. I pledge to protect the Susquehanna.”

    The chant continued for the remaining three minutes of the hearing, as commissioners continued with the approvals.

    Susan Obleski, spokeswoman for the commission, says each project is examined on a case-by-case basis.

    “The commission has a rigorous review process. We add conditions on all of our approvals to protect streams, to protect ground water levels,” Obleski said. “We run the whole gamut of all the scientific needs on all of these applications.”

    Drilling companies are required to get a permit for all water withdrawals, whereas the SRBC allows other industries to withdraw up to 100 thousand gallons of water a day without permission.

    Of the 60 total applications, three were approved and 10 were tabled.

    The SRBC is the sole source of water-withdrawal permits in eastern Pennsylvania, as the Delaware River Basin Commission has put a moratorium on drilling.

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