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By Debbie Leo
It has been two months since the Tomlin Energy, LLC hearing before the Oklahoma Water Resources Board in Oklahoma City. It is no surprise that the Hearing Examiner for this permit has not yet made his determination to grant water from the Kiamichi River for this project. Here’s why.
The project is a $1.5 billion dollar project expected to generate millions of dollars over the next fifty years for Pushmataha County. The requested permit for 33,000 acre feet of “overflow” water will allow Tomlin Energy, LLC to finalize their application through Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), to build this project, a closed-loop hydro-electric storage plant.
Tomlin is required to go through the FERC to prove the safety of this project to the environment and must address all the studies that are required by the Enviromental Protection Agency (EPA) and any other agencies that would oversee such a large project.
The scale of this project for the upper portion of the Kiamichi River is huge. The amount of rock and debris from the blasting for the three ponds will be overwhelming. Any blasting of rock done to create the ponds for this project will create an new normal for the area and will surely change the downstream river and environment as well. A new normal that will change the status of the Kiamichi River Basin forever. Once done, there is no turning back the clock.
If the Hearing Examiner is researching all the information the protestants provided at the hearings in June, he will find the information correct and the perils very real for the Kiamichi River Basin. The question remains, is there really enough water, overflow and seasonal stream water, to grant the permit for 33,000 acre feet of water yearly to Tomlin Energy, LLC? Who will monitor this “overflow” water creates another conundrum; just how will it be monitored and by whom? There is no system, no way to correctly monitor this overflow water.
So, as we await word on this permit application, approval or denial, life moves on and the river continues to flow for us all. When the answer to the question of this permit #2019-0023 is revealed, it will be made known throughout the region. The old saying that “no news is good news” may apply here.
The Kiamichi River flows with the help of all of us, protecting our water, the wildlife and the place we call home.