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Jan 10

PADEP’s Proposed Stream Crossings Permit Threatens Susq Watersheds

Proposed Revisions to PA General Permit GW-8 Sacrifice Watershed Protection in favor of Easy Permit Approvals

in November 2013, DEP published notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin of its proposal to significantly modify the Chapter 105 General Permit 8 (GP-8). Currently authorizing only temporary road crossings of streams and wetlands, the proposed and expanded permit would authorize the construction and removal of temporary pipelines that could remain in place for up to two years. It would also allow large-capacity (up to 24 inches in diameter) pipelines to carry “pollutional materials,” a term that is not defined but presumably would include fracturing and flowback fluids.

The proposed GP-8 would allow pipelines to be constructed through an unlimited number of wetlands and streams, including Exceptional Value waters, with no restrictions on the length or area of wetland or stream impacts. Like all General Permit registrations, GP-8 activities would not be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, thus greatly reducing the opportunity for public review and input. This all means that the Susquehanna River Basin, which is already experiencing significant degradation of its headwaters streams and wetlands due to intensive shale gas related industrial development, would be further compromised by yet another “sanctioned” method of pollution.

Because the proposed GP-8 seems intended to satisfy industry’s wish for expedited approvals at the expense of water resource protection we submitted this technical comment letter illustrating proposed GW-8′s deficiencies. Waterways, wetlands and communities of the Susquehanna deserve better than the proposed GW-8 permit.

Sep 13

With LNG Export Approval, DOE Shortchanges American Public, Ignores Economic and Safety Concerns

With LNG Export Approval, DOE Shortchanges American Public, Ignores Economic and Safety Concerns Cove Point project would hike energy costs, threaten public safety, harm Chesapeake Bay

WASHINGTON, DC – The Department of Energy announced today it had granted conditional approval to the Dominion Cove Point LNG facility to export liquefied natural gas to non-free trade agreement countries, pending an environmental review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

The $3.8 billion project would transform a sleepy natural gas import facility on the Chesapeake Bay into a massive export hub and hasten the already hectic pace of fracking for natural gas in the nearby Marcellus and Utica shale regions.

But as recently as last week, FERC regulators were raising concerns with Dominion about the safety of the project pointing to the potential for a “fireball” connected to on-site chemical storage. And while economic benefits of the project are heavily in dispute, all experts agree that it would raise domestic energy prices.

Dominion still faces major hurdles before the project can proceed. The company needs approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has yet to complete its environmental review. Dominion also needs approval from Maryland utility regulators as well as more than 60 permits and approvals. There is still pending litigation over whether Dominion has the right to build this facility or if it breaks an earlier legal agreement with Sierra Club.

The following are statements from groups that have aligned in opposition to this project:

“Dominion managed to convince the Department of Energy that exploiting the people of the Marcellus and Utica shale regions for the sake of the oil and gas industry was a good idea. But they’ve still got a long way to go before they can convince the rest of us that we should pay higher fuel prices, sacrifice our safety, and threaten public health. Dominion should be prepared to face stiff resistance at each remaining step in their ongoing approval process,” said Jocelyn D’Ambrosio, associate attorney with the non-profit environmental law group Earthjustice.

“DOE’s decision to authorize DCP’s proposed LNG export plan, even though conditioned on yet-to-be-performed environmental reviews, smacks of poor decisionmaking. Instead of choosing to examine the propriety of LNG export programmatically, across the nation, DOE appears to be allowing each proposed export facility to take a substantial step forward without the type of reasoned analysis the public and affected communities deserve. Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper will continue to demand that DOE reconcile the negative impacts that LNG export entails for upstream communities like the Susquehanna before any final authorizations take place,” said Guy Alsentzer of Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper.

“The U.S Department of Energy does not speak for the Marylanders who would pay the price of exporting fracked gas from Cove Point. Let’s be clear: Dominion still has a steep hill to climb in receiving the necessary federal and state permits. Marylanders will be mobilizing every step of the way to challenge their plans, which threaten to virtually cover our region in new pipelines, processing plants and fracking wells,” said Mike Tidwell, Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

“Today’s DOE approval shows once again that the oil and gas industry does not care about domestic energy independence, which is what they sold the American public. They only care about profits even when it harms local communities, fractures our most pristine forests and risks our local rivers and drinking water supplies,” said Robin Broder of Potomac Riverkeeper.

“With the Department of Energy (DOE) today conditionally authorizing Dominion Resources to export gas from a liquefied natural gas terminal in Cove Point, Maryland, it is deeply disappointing to see that Secretary Moniz persists in leading the nation and the world to into a dirty energy future. It’s a bad deal all around: for public health, the environment, and America’s working people.  The Sierra Club has been granted party status in this docket, and will hold DOE to its commitment to fully review environmental issues before deciding whether to issue final authorization. We will also monitor all other permits and approvals that the Cove Point Facility will require, and will take action as necessary.  Additionally, Sierra Club continues to seek enforcement of a decades-old agreement between the Sierra Club and Dominion Cove Point LNG which clearly prohibits expansion of this facility to allow for exports.  The Sierra Club intends to hold Dominion accountable for complying with the commitments it made to protect the Cove Point environment,” said Deb Nardone, Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Natural Gas Campaign.

Aug 12

The Best Choice For The Susquehanna River, Choose to Re-Open Creswell Landfill

The Best Choice For The Susquehanna River, Choose To Re-Open Creswell Landfill.

Did you know that the Frey Farm Landfill, which overlooks the Susquehanna River at Lake Clarke, is almost full? It’s true – landfills have an expiration date and, once full, need to be expanded or closed down. Frey Farm Landfill already overlooks our scenic river, but under its current permit, cannot grow any larger. But now the owners of Frey Farm Landfill – Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority (LCSWMA) – want to expand that landfill, VERTICALLY!!

If LCSWMA’s permit request is granted, our beautiful viewshed – specifically the shores of Lancaster County visible from York County – will have a new eyesore: a towering landfill on the horizon. Even worse, the 60-foot vertical expansion would not only degrade the aesthetics of the Lower Susquehanna River, but also poses unknown risks by placing an additional 10 million cubic yards of waste next to the river, something we can all agree isn’t in the best interests of the river or its communities.

There is, however, a good solution that allows Lancaster County to responsibly handle its wastes while simultaneously preserving the aesthetics of the Lower Susquehanna River and Lake Clarke.

Click Here to see the Frey Farm Landfill Action Handout

Aug 07

2013 Susquehanna Biathlon results

        2013 Susquehanna Biathlon results

The biathlon was a great success, thank you to all who participated in this year’s race, we are pleased to announce the results:

1. #246 Joe McMaster, 54 min

2. #229 Kev Hawn, 56 min

3. #228 Pat Reilly, 56 min

4. #206 Gary Ballina / Karen Ruppert, 59 min

5. #212 Kurt Buck, 61 min

6. #251 Jeffrey Donnelly, 61 min

7. #231 Scott Miller, 62 min

8. #202 Brian Chambers, 63 min

9. #241 Andy Miller, 63 min

10. #244 William Wood team, 64 min

11. #234 Sam Jacoby, 64 min

12. #214 Kevin McCarty team, 65 min

13. #247 Michael Anderson, 67 min

14. #236 Katie Jury, 68 min

15. #209 Nina Cassino team, 68 min

16. #223 Lindsay Gerner team, 69 min

17. #221 Lindsay Gerner team, 69 min

18. #224 Mark Southam, 69 min

19. #207 Nina Cassino team, 70 min

20. #217 Matthew Houseknecht team, 71 min

21. #219 Paul Hoffer, 71 min

22. #218 Caroline Hoffer, 72 min

23. #237 Elizabeth Soukup, 72 min

24. #207 Kim Herbft, 72 min

25. #210 Zachary Paul, 73 min

26. #213 Kevin McCarty team, 73 min

27. #235 Christian Zuna, 73 min

28. #211 Thomas Paul, 73 min

29. #225 Eric Urani, 74 min

30. #232 Rod Kilhefner, 75 min

31. #254 John Musser team, 75 min

32. #253 John Musser team, 75 min

33. #250 Rick Cooper team, 76 min

34. #243 Dawn and Kim Jeter, 77 min

35. #208 Debra Clemons, 77 min

36. #215 Abby Reed, 77 min

37. #230 Faye Hawn, 78 min

38. #240 F. Vance McConkey team, 80 min

39. #249 Christina Bupp team, 81 min

40. #220 Krista Cox, 81 min

41. #203 Erin Blackwell, 81 min

42. #204 Karen Umlauf team, 82 min

43. #205 Karen Umlauf team, 82 min

44. #239 F. Vance McConkey team, 82 min

45. #227 Cherie Sidotie team, 93 min

46. #226 Cherie Sidotie team, 93 min

47. #248 Christina Bupp team, 94 min

48. #238 Albert Storm, 96 min

Again, thank you very much for supporting us in our efforts to preserve the Mighty Susquehanna. We hope to see all of you again next year!

Jul 29

Coalition Sues NY State for Putting Industry Before Clean Water

We’ve joined a coalition of environmental groups in filing a lawsuit against the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for its deregulation of industrial dairy farms with 200–299 cows. DEC’s rulemaking has rolled back clean water protection standards to allow medium size dairy CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) to operate without a permit, in clear violation of both federal and state law, with the likely result that untreated cow manure will run off into and contaminate nearby waters. Read the press release here.

Your Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, Michael R. Helfrich, had this to say on filing the lawsuit:

“The lower Susquehanna River is thick with algae, mostly from agricultural pollution. We have been working diligently to improve Pennsylvania’s implementation of pollution reductions to heal the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay. We don’t need New York to reduce their standards on controlling their agricultural pollution.”

Jul 17

Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Intervenes in Conowingo Relicensing

Today Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, our supporting non-profit Stewards of the Lower Susquehanna, and Waterkeepers Chesapeake asked to be officially included in the relicensing proceedings for the Conowingo Dam, located about 50 miles northeast of Baltimore. Because the dam affects water quality up and down the Susquehanna River, and throughout Chesapeake Bay, we plan to push the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to require the dam’s owner to take action so that the dam doesn’t harm waters in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and beyond. Read our Press Release by clicking here. Read our Motion to Intervene by clicking here.

The presence of this dam on the Susquehanna River has caused major negative impacts to the river and Chesapeake Bay,” said Michael Helfrich, Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper. “Our seven years of research on Conowingo leaves us with no doubt that the unnatural amounts of sediment that are scoured from Conowingo Pond into the bay during major storm events are damaging the bay, making the work of cleaning up the bay even more difficult.  Solutions to this, and other impacts, must be addressed in this relicensing process.”

Jun 20

Bad Court Decision Limits Public Access to Pollution Records

Today the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) announced that it has filed a petition in the Maryland Court of Appeals on behalf of Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper and several other Chesapeake Waterkeeper groups, challenging a May 2, 2013 Court of Special Appeals ruling that permanently prevents public access to agricultural pollution control information.

Americans deserve transparent government. A recent Maryland court ruling undermines this goal by permanently preventing public access to information about how agricultural operations manage their waste. Without access to this information, local communities and citizens cannot be assured that these operations are not polluting the water that Marylanders rely on for drinking, swimming, and fishing.  

Read the press release by clicking here.

Jun 03

Comments to the SRBC re: June 2013 Docket

On June 3 we and other conservation organizations submitted a comment letter to the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) concerning water withdrawal applications it will consider at its June 2013 Business Meeting. Some of the water withdrawals it will consider are, like many from the past 5 years, intended for shale gas fracking operations. And, like many of our previous comment letters, we again told the SRBC that it needs to do more to protect the Susquehanna and its communities from fracking’s water quality impacts.

As many of you have read in the press the SRBC doesn’t want to do more. It doesn’t want to perform a cumulative impacts study of water quality impacts, and it doesn’t want to assess the sufficiency of Pennsylvania’s – a member jurisdiction – quality controls. Yet the SRBC’s guiding document, its Compact, requires it be both an investigator AND planner, duties it has failed to fully perform especially as concerning the water quality impacts arising from shale gas development.

Want to learn more? Read our comment letter by clicking here.

May 10

The Lower Susquehanna River Is Impaired, Maybe?

Yesterday, May 9th 2013 the Region 3 Office of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (PADEP) acted within its discretion in listing the Lower Susquehanna River as a ‘Category 3′ waterway with ‘unknown cause(s) of impairment,’ and not a ‘Category 5′ waterway needing a pollution diet (AKA a “TMDL”) on its Final 2012 Integrated Waters Report (2012 IR). Read EPA’s Approval Rationale by clicking here.

The Clean Water Act (CWA) requires states who control their own water quality programs to submit Integrated Reports bi-annually to EPA. These reports, also known as 303(d) or ‘impaired waters’ lists, contain a state’s assessment of waterways’ health, noting which waters fail to meet designated or existing uses as described by state water quality standards.

Whether the Lower Susquehanna River is ‘impaired’ for purposes of PADEP’s 2012 IR has become a hotly contested issue with Pennsylvania’s expert fishery agency – the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) – and environmental groups, like Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, arguing that this section of river needs official recognition as ‘impaired’ because of the dramatic decline and diseases affecting Smallmouth Bass and other panfish populations. Read the official comments of the PFBC here, and Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper’s comments here.

Michael Helfrich, the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper, had this to say about EPA’s approval of PADEP’s 2012 IR which failed to include an impairment designation for the Lower Susquehanna River:

 

“It is unfortunate that it appears neither PADEP nor EPA understand their own laws. Everyone agrees that there is an impairment of the River, and everyone who fishes the River will tell you there is an impairment what with the dead and diseased fish and blankets of algae that cover the River. Yet the agencies who are supposed to protect us and our environment refuse to act. The law is clear: evidence of a cause of impairment does not have to be known in order for a waterway to be declared impaired. That – an official recognition of impairment – is what we expected. EPA’s decision is not the end.”

May 06

Coalition Presses for Thorough Review of Dominion Cove Point LNG Export Terminal

Many of you may recall our long efforts aimed at ensuring a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal, sited in the Chesapeake Bay, undergoes a thorough review process before any decisions are made. Unfortunately those reviews have not occurred and the pressure is on from big business to rush through with the project.

A rushed ‘green light’ for an LNG export terminal in the Chesapeake will mean increased shale gas fracking and new infrastructure like pipelines and compressor stations for upstream watersheds like the Susquehanna, creating increased pollution for our local communities and landscapes, while that gas is shipped overseas for foreign use and corporate profits.

Last week Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper and other environmental organizations intervened in the licensing process before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission  - click here to read our press release and more on why communities and waterways like the Susquehanna deserve better than getting sold down the river for corporate profits and foreign markets’ gas needs.

Quick link to our comments

Quick link to our motion to intervene

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