Dimock Natural Gas Train Back on Track, But Not Moving Yet
Early the other morning Joe and I traveled to Dimock, Pennsylvania to talk with some residents about “the box” Energy in Depth has mentioned in a couple different posts. The box is a nine square mile area in Dimock where Cabot Oil and Gas was temporarily forced to stop all production until further notice from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The DEP has officially given Cabot Oil and Gas the go ahead to continue exploring natural gas wells that have already been prepped for well stimulation. This was great news to many people in the box but some are still waiting for the green light from the DEP allowing Cabot Oil and Gas to develop their land.
We went to visit Esther Rayias and Karen Radwanski to get their opinions on this decision. They, like any good neighbors, are happy the Department of Environmental Protection has come forward and allowed Cabot Oil and Gas to continue production on the natural gas wells they started but they are anxious to hear when their natural gas wells can be developed.
The Department of Environmental Protection, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Cabot Oil and Gas tested 61 water wells in Dimock in the beginning of this year. There were some residents who didn’t allow Cabot Oil and Gas to test their wells but the wells Cabot couldn’t test were still tested by the EPA and DEP. Once the results came back they retested some water wells just to verify. The tests revealed there was no contamination in the water wells from anything. You can review the results we analyzed here.
Much of the water in certain parts of Dimock has always been of poor quality. Having some elements in higher concentrations isn’t uncommon for the area but again nearly all the tests came back with water exceeding drinking quality standards and the few that didn’t could be explained by pre-existing conditions.
We first interviewed Esther Rayias. She mentioned she is pleased the DEP has partially lifted the moratorium on the nine mile area. She is happy for her neighbors who are now able to gain from natural gas exploration. She, unfortunately, is one of the families with land in the nine square miles Cabot hadn’t began developing before the moratorium was put into place. Therefore, she still cannot have natural gas development on her land. Watch her comments below.
Karen Radwanski, Esthers sister, also agreed to interview with us. Karen expressed very similar feelings as Esther during her interview. She mentioned the DEP wanted to make sure Cabot operated safely during natural gas exploration. She argues Cabot has gone above and beyond in proving their operations are safe and effective. Karen also discusses the huge community push in support of natural gas development in Dimock.
The community came together last year and began a group called Dimock Proud. This group inspired people in Dimock to join together in the hope of getting factual information out to the public about natural gas and how much it has actually benefitted Dimock. Given the bad name Dimock developed because of a few families and the litigation they initiated, the majority of the town wanted to set the record straight; Dimock is a beautiful and clean place to live.
We asked both Karen and Esther what it would mean to them if the DEP allowed Cabot to develop the portion of their land the DEP has not yet gave the “go ahead” to. They answered by discussing not only how the money would help them, but also how it would help return their field into a hay field. We asked them to clarify, just for the record, they would still use their field for hay. We often run into people arguing against natural gas on the baseless theory farmers getting a lot of money from their natural gas leases and royalties will stop farming. It’s absurd, as Esther and Karen demonstrate. Many farms are family farms passed down from generation to generation. They made it clear their family had every intention of continuing to hay.
After talking with these women, a couple of things became very clear. First, these individuals were well pleased for their neighbors and were comforted knowing DEP was finally coming around. Secondly, they made it explicitly clear this action was but a drop in a puddle for the nine square miles. They argue it’s time for the DEP to open up all the land in the box for Cabot to produce. All of the tests conducted by the DEP have pointed to Cabot producing safely and efficiently. The majority of the community supports natural gas development in Dimock. It’s time to wrap this thing up and let development proceed in all of Dimock! That’s what we heard.