Dimock Landowners Share Their Perspective on Natural Gas Development
Local residents Ann Van Lenten and Jim Grimsley are chronicled in this article originally printed by the Northeast Driller regarding their experiences with natural gas development and media coverage of development in the town of Dimock.
The town of Dimock has received a number of headlines over the past several years since the natural gas industry came to the area. It was this town that raised the majority of concern about the safety of residents’ drinking water if a natural gas company drilled nearby.
However, for husband and wife landowners Jim Grimsley and Ann Van Lenten, who have a well pad near their house, Dimock is and has been the same as many towns in rural northeastern Pennsylvania.
“We’ve actually had people from out-of-state ask us, ‘Where’s the destruction?’,” Van Lenten said. “Well, we would tell them that they’re looking at it; nothing has really changed in that aspect.”
Grimsley and Van Lenten put a water filter system in place when they moved to Dimock before the natural gas industry moved in, knowing the area’s prior history with drinking water.
“Some of our older neighbors who have lived here for over 70 years or their entire lives just laugh about it,” Grimsley said. “They said they were lighting their water on fire when they were kids. It was just the way it was.”
Grimsley also described the process of their experiences with the natural gas industry.
“It really all started when we came home and found paperwork on our doorstep from a gas company,” he said. “Like a lot of people in the beginning, we looked it over and didn’t really think much of it, so we just threw it out.
“Then we started getting visits from landmen and he gave us his pitch and we eventually signed up,” Grimsley continued. “Then we found out we were going to get a well pad and we were ecstatic.
“There was a bit of trouble with the access road with the line-of-sight distance that PennDOT requires for safety concerns,” he added. “But that was worked out and now they use our driveway by the barn.”
“That’s the key thing with the natural gas companies,” Van Lenten said. “If you voice any concerns or problems that you have, they adjust to it immediately. All you have to do is tell them.”
Since he is retired, Grimsley was able to observe the construction on their land as much as he wanted, which he often did.
“When they were constructing the pad, they used a lot of fill. I even got to the point where I timed the trucks’ arrival and found that a truck of fill would arrive here every four minutes for 12 hours a day as they built the pad.”
With that said, the couple noted that the truck traffic is an inconvenience.
“We don’t like the traffic,” Van Lenten said. “I remember when I would go to work in Nicholson, which is about 20 minutes away, I would often make the trip and never see another car; that’s not the case anymore. But some have the inconveniences for the good of the whole.
“For example, there were no jobs here before the gas industry came,” she continued. “Now, people that we know personally that have been struggling in the past now have jobs and they’re doing well.”
“We do believe that natural gas is good for the country,” Grimsley added. “It will help us become energy independent. It is here and now and it’s safe; I’m all for it.”
In fact, Van Lenten supports the gas industry so much that she organized a local group called Dimock Proud, which is comprised of landowners from Dimock that sought to lift a nine square mile moratorium on drilling that was enacted due to water pollution concerns.
“We still meet as much as we can,” Van Lenten said. “In fact, we’ll be meeting with Cabot soon to discuss some of the activity coming up.”
More information about Dimock Proud can be found on the group’s website at www.dimockproud.com.
During the drilling process of their wells, the couple said that the activity wasn’t much of an inconvenience.
“The lights and noise didn’t really bother us much,” Grimsley said. “Occasionally the clanking of pipes would wake me up, but after living next to the JFK airport in New York City 30 years ago, noise it’s something you get used to.
“Between the gravel trucks, water trucks and all the other trucks, the roads were beaten to death,” he continued. “But now they’re a plus, they’re a lot better than they have been.
“It’s not a perfect industry, but nothing is,” he added. “The pluses definitely outweigh the minuses. I have yet to see someone with a better alternative to natural gas. These guys have been fracking for a long time and being able to drill horizontally saves so much on top environmentally.”
Grimsley and Van Lenten both noted that many of the people they’ve talked to in Dimock agree that the industry has been good for the area.
“The majority of people like the industry being here,” Van Lenten said. “They are thankful for the benefits that it has brought to our area.”