Despite a handful of protesters, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) on Thursday voted to approve 42 water withdrawal permit applications, including most that it had approved at a disrupted meeting in December.

SRBC spokeswoman Susan Obleski told NGI's Shale Daily the commission approved 42 permit applications, including 22 of 26 that were approved at its ill-fated meeting in Wilkes-Barre, PA, on Dec. 15. Anti-drilling activists had disrupted that meeting and forced testimony to be cut short (see Shale Daily, Feb. 22; Jan. 26).

"Under our new format, we kept [the meeting] very short and moved through our agenda," Obleski said Friday. "Once we got to the regulatory items, which we intentionally put at the very end, we did have activists standing up trying to drown us out. But we forged on, took the votes and completed the meeting."

Obleski said about 60 people attended the meeting, but only eight stood and held signs and shouted slogans during the vote on the permit applications. She said there were no arrests.

Besides the 22 re-approved from the previous meeting, the SRBC ultimately voted to approve 20 new permit applications, tabled 10 for future consideration and denied three. Most of the permit applications are from operators in the Marcellus Shale.

The Susquehanna River Basin covers 27,510 square miles, including half of Pennsylvania and parts of New York and Maryland, and makes up a sizeable portion of the Marcellus Shale play. It is managed by the SRBC, a compact set up by the federal government in 1971. Representatives from the three aforementioned states and the Army Corps of Engineers serve as commissioners.