Personal statement by Alex Lotorto - For every project, there is a permit, or in Riverdale's case, there were two. For Riverdale, the loss of that community could have only occurred with the approval of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, made up of three Democrats and one Republican, President Obama and governors Cuomo (NY), O'Malley (MD), and Corbett (PA). I don't know if these politicians will survive the next election cycle and remain in office, but I do believe that every single one of them will stand before their Creator on judgement day. If they don't use their powers to restore justice for Riverdale residents, there is a hot place reserved for those who oppress the "least of these" according to Matthew 25, "The Sheep and the Goats," a passage I have reflected on this week.
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’For those of us who want to protect the Susquehanna River and the people who live around it, understanding the true purpose of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission changes the nature of our struggle. To be sure, we need to continue putting pressure on the SRBC to change its ways and do the right thing, and I encourage all readers to call representatives of the White House and the governors of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York – who are directing the voting members of the SRBC – to demand that SRBC revoke Aqua’s permit to build a water withdrawal site on the land of the Riverdale community immediately.
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. ”
As we work to change the SRBC, we must understand that we cannot rely on it, or any of our top political leadership, to protect us. Instead, we must rely on each other and work collectively to defend ourselves and our way of life. We can start by drawing a line in the sand at Riverdale.
Obama, Corbett, Cuomo, and O’Malley Approve Final Water Permit for Devastating Shale Gas Facility
BINGHAMTON, NY: On Thursday, June 7, a water withdrawal facility to service natural gas drillers received its final permit to be constructed at Riverdale Mobile Home Park where residents are defending their homes.
The Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC), with voting members including President Obama, Governors Corbett, O’Malley, and Cuomo, dismissed the Riverdale residents’ pleas for mercy when it authorized the last of two permits for Aqua America and Penn Virginia Resources’ proposed water withdrawal and pipeline distribution system.
Building of the facility was planned to begin on June 1, but seven out of 32 families remain with the support of volunteers to prevent construction as rounds of negotiations continue between company representatives and residents’ representation. Their effort, dubbed “Hands Across Riverdale,” seeks to win a new lease agreement for residents to remain, full compensation for residents who have left to cover moving costs, and the right for displaced residents to return.
Families who have left by under duress by June 1 only received $2,500 from the developers while the average cost of moving a mobile home is $6,000 not including heating oil tanks, porches, sheds, and additions.
The facility will remove up to three million gallons of water per day from the west branch of the Susquehanna River to supply water impoundments owned by Range Resources, a Texas-based Marcellus shale driller, via a water pipeline.
According to Aqua America, the pipeline water distribution will eliminate 6,000 truck trips a day, threatening jobs for water haulers, mechanics, parts suppliers, and service industry employees in the Williamsport region. The Marcellus shale industry has presented no plan for outplacement services, retention, or re-training of workers dislocated from their jobs by the project.
This spring, the Susquehanna River experienced near-record droughts. Spokeswoman for the SRBC Susan Obleski stated the Susquehanna has been facing severe drought this spring “at levels that haven’t been seen since 1910 and 1946.”
According to John Arway of Pennsylvania’s Fish and Boat Commission, there has been a significant increase in fish with black lesions in the Susquehanna since last summer. This indicates the likely presence of toxic chemicals in a watershed that Pennsylvanians and Maryland residents rely upon for drinking water, fishing, and recreation industries. Regarding this disturbing turn of events, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection is facing criticism for its refusal to list the Susquehanna River as “impaired” under the Clean Water Act, which would grant additional protections.
Assuming chemical concentrations of about .05% in fracking fluids used in well production, a permit of three million gallons of water withdrawn per day allows for the production of an additional 15,000 gallons of chemicals, many of which are known toxins that will reenter the Susquehanna River Basin through leaks, spills, illegal dumping, or failed well casing construction.
Alex Lotorto, a volunteer with Hands Across Riverdale, said, “The sad truth is that the SRBC is not designed to protect the water of the Susquehanna River. Like so many other local, state, and federal “regulatory” agencies with mission statements touting the virtues of environmental protection, the SRBC is a farce, existing only to provide the illusion of regulation as a mask over the reality of blatant collusion between government and big business towards the exploitation of our natural resources for the benefit of corporations and their shareholders.”
A cursory glance at the SRBC’s voting record reveals this to be true. At its March meeting, the SRBC voted to approve over three dozen natural gas industry project applications, denying or rescinding only four.