Appalachian Basin

Dimock Residents Determined to Get the Truth Out

Residents of Dimock, Pennsylvania have had enough of being slandered by powerful and wealthy special interests allied against natural gas drilling and they are striking back – with, of all things, the simple truth.

Some of you already know me. My name is Tom Shepstone and I have been very active in supporting natural gas development for our region.  I know how critical it is to our economic future and quality of life.  I have learned this from my experience as a consultant to both both private and public entities throughout the gas region of New York and Pennsylvania.   There is nothing remotely close in the way of economic development that will accomplish what natural gas development is able to bring to our rural communities, with so little land disturbance and so much open space protection.

I have been fortunate enough to be contracted by Energy In Depth, starting this week, to direct a grass roots outreach campaign on behalf of natural gas development.   Known as the Northeast Marcellus Initiative and introduced by Chris Tucker in his earlier post, this effort will include two other individuals you will all get to meet – Nicole Jacobs and Bill desRosiers, each of whom will be introducing themselves to you by means of this blog and, we expect, personally, when they show up in your area.

We started our outreach, appropriately, with a visit to Dimock, Pennsylvania.  We met last evening with a group of local landowners who organized as “Enough, Already” a few months ago to successfully oppose an ill considered Pennsylvania DEP proposal to address some shallow methane migration issues with their water supplies.  That proposal was to build a gigantic new water line that was plainly overkill.  “Enough, Already” stopped it using that good old fashioned democratic right of petition.  They prevailed through enthusiasm and organization.

That proposal is now history and the matter has been resolved with a settlement that not only compensated many of these landowners but also ensured they got methane-free water.   These landowners, familiar with the issue of methane migration into water supplies for many years prior to gas drilling even being considered, are pleased with the results and very supportive of further natural gas development, one lady telling me “We just hope it (drilling) keeps getting closer to our property.”

Notwithstanding this, the landowners are upset.   They are upset with the continued libel regarding their community by those who know nothing of it.   They are upset with the distortions of the facts by those with special interest agendas.  They are upset others mistakenly think their water isn’t fit to drink because media reports have made it seem so.  They are upset no one investigates the circumstances and facts behind the false accusations put forward by some.

Nonetheless, while these landowners are upset, they are anything but negative. Indeed, these are some of the most positive people I’ve ever met.   They know their community is just as pastoral as it ever was.   They know their roads are better than they have ever been.  They know their lives have been immeasurably improved by the economic gains from natural gas development.   They want to tell the world their water is great to drink, they like what natural gas has brought them and they still live in a community of enormous beauty and rural character.  They are “Dimock Proud.”

There is so much to say about Dimock and why these residents have a right to be proud.  We’ll be telling you a lot more in coming days, but there are several things that caught our attention.  First, it’s what isn’t immediately noticeable that is most noticeable in the end.  There is, for example, a gathering pipeline in this picture – do you see it?

Rockvale Farm

Find the pipeline!

The pipeline, in case your wondering, runs underneath a couple of those large animals in the center of the photo.  What a case of industrialization this is – no wonder the anti’s are going so crazy!  Who wouldn’t become irrational over this?  I’m so pleased the media reported this attack on the working landscapes of Northeastern Pennsylvania!

We also learned there is more to other stories some of the media have related.  We learned, for example, there is an active junkyard located along a stream about 1/4 mile upstream from one of the residents loudly proclaiming her well was polluted with chemicals “which only could have gotten there through methane migration of chemicals used in the drilling process.”  Leaving aside the question of what constitutes pollution, it couldn’t, of course, have come from the leaching of oil and gas from junked vehicles – it’s simply not possible!

We learned, too, some of those folks claiming the gas company won’t pay out the money due them under the settlement, aren’t telling the whole story either, conveniently leaving out the fact they won’t take the money now because the first lawyer would take most of it for his unpaid bills and they have to settle with that lawyer first before they can safely accept the money.

Yes, Dimock is a fascinating place with lots of stories, but the real story, the most important story, is that this is still a wonderful place, with good people living lives made better by natural gas development and they are determined to help set the record straight.  We are equally determined to help them.  You can expect to hear a lot more about Dimock down the road from “Enough, Already.”  We’ll help make sure of it and if you want help getting your story out, contact us!


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