Marcellus Shale

Dimock Revisited

Dr. Michael Morrongiello
Psychologist and Steuben County Landowner 

In recent years, the small Pennsylvania town of Dimock became ground zero for the debate on hydraulic fracturing.  Natural gas companies were accused of contaminating the drinking water and the narrative took a life of its own from there.  The anti-natural gas crowd then tried to create a narrative of ordinary people exploited and victimized by corporate recklessness and greed. Just saying “Dimock” was supposed to raise an awful image in people’s minds.  But, eventually, the facts got in their way.

The EPA and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection have found no contamination of well water caused by hydraulic fracturing after hundreds of tests. Recently, the EPA stated:

“EPA has completed…the third set of sampling at 16 private drinking water wells in Dimock, Pennsylvania.  This set of sampling did not show levels of contaminants that would give EPA reason to take further action.”

A fourth round of testing again showed no contamination, but anti-natural gas activists insisted otherwise.

This proves two things: hydraulic fracturing is safe, and zealous anti-natural gas advocates oppose it on ideological, not factual grounds. If you need more evidence that fracturing is safe, it is permitted in 21 states. EPA administrator Lisa Jackson told Congress, “I’m not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water.”  James Martin, head of the West Virginia Office of Oil and Gas, said he was unaware of any instance where fracturing released methane into groundwater. Geologists at the Ohio Department of Natural resources say that 80,000 wells have been developed with no groundwater contamination.  The examples continue but, in the interest of brevity, I will stop there.

EPA at Work in Dimock

EPA at Work in Dimock (Source: Associated Press)

Hydraulic fracturing has unlocked oil and natural gas resources in the Utica Shale in eastern Ohio.  Chesapeake Energy will invest $200 billion over 20 years extracting the resources, which means jobs for Ohioans (a recent study predicts 205, 000 new jobs) and cheaper utility bills for everyone.  The drilling boom has even revived the steel industry in Youngstown; 1,500 jobs were created to supply pipe to drilling companies. Wells Fargo economists predict that gas drilling will bring an additional 200,000 jobs to Pennsylvania. The good news doesn’t stop there. Natural gas heats the homes of 4.7 million New Yorkers and 62 million Americans (56% of all homes).  Natural gas prices have dropped more than 50%, putting money back in the pockets of millions of Americans. Drilling produces cheaper energy for everyone as well as jobs.  The antifrackers offer winded fantasies and sunshine dreams backed by phony narratives.

The anti’s tried to exploit Dimock as their trump card to “prove” hydraulic fracturing should be banned in New York. They failed because once more; the evidence has proved them wrong.  While Ohio and Pennsylvania prosper, Albany and New York City have delayed natural gas development for 5 years. Meanwhile, the upstate economy continues to drown; Governor Cuomo must toss a life-ring to upstate by issuing hydraulic fracturing permits.

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