*UPDATE* Dimock: The Full Story
Jim Grimsley and Ann Van Lenten
Dimock Township Landowners
Jim and I are proud residents of Dimock Township in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. We are the voice of the silent majority in Dimock and we would like everyone to hear “the other side.” As landowners, we are acutely aware that, in April, 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) imposed a moratorium on natural gas development, by Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, in a 9-square mile area of Dimock. As a result of the natural gas development ban, over 500 families (us included) are being held back from collecting gas royalties because gas wells cannot be developed or completed by Cabot. Because other gas companies have been working in that very same 9-square mile area since April 2010, I became convinced the ban was not imposed because of any “public safety” issue but, rather, that there had to be more to the story.
Dimock residents organized a neighborhood group called “Enough Already” to challenge an earlier proposal for a water line. This group has, in turn, created the ENOUGH IS ENOUGH campaign. Dimock residents are tired of listening to negative propaganda about our town. We are tired of having our gas leases put on hold (since April, 2010) because of 11 families that will not accept remedies handed to them – for free. The ENOUGH IS ENOUGH campaign has included a petition asking the Department of Environmental Protection to lift the drilling ban imposed on Cabot. That petition was sent to the DEP on December 14th and we are hoping it will not fall on deaf ears. While going door-to-door, I met so many people who have lived here for generations and who were more than willing to tell me how it really was to grow up here, and how they feel about the misinformation being spread about their town. We are here to pass that information on to you.
For those of you who don’t know the full story, it goes like this. Some 11 families living on or near Carter Road, in Dimock Township, are claiming to be abandoned by their township, by the Department of Environmental Protection, by Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, and finally, by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Their initial claim was that their water had been contaminated due to methane migration from natural gas wells drilled near their properties.
That claim has now blossomed into claims of contaminants in their water including, but not limited to, ethylbenzene, xylene, ethylene glycol (antifreeze) and propylene glycol (a naturally occurring by-product in the fermentation of some commercially packaged beers. Propylene glycol is rapidly degraded in all environmental media. These chemicals are not used in the hydro-fracturing process and, interestingly enough, these chemicals were not detected in 2008 pre-drill samples taken at more than a dozen water supplies along Carter Road. There was a toluene contaminant found this spring and summer by Scranton-based Farnham and Associates Inc. which was at levels 1,000 times higher than the toluene levels detected in two wells in 2008. The firm’s president, Daniel Farnham, said. “I’m not here to argue with the gas company,” he said. “My objective is just to illustrate that something’s going on here and it needs to be investigated.”
Yes, I should say there needs to be an investigation. Chemicals miraculously appearing in water wells 3 years after drilling has stopped sounds suspicious to me.
BACK TO US – We moved here in 2003, looking to eventually retire in a quiet country setting. We love it here in Dimock. All of our neighbors are wonderful, people with an amazing sense of giving. They are literally neighbors who help their neighbors. The exploration and capture of natural gas from under our land has definitely had a positive impact on our quiet town. Our county, which was one of the poorest in Pennsylvania, has morphed into a bustling progressive region. Jobs, which used to be near non-existent, have opened up to local residents. Small businesses have been able to capitalize on the economic progress brought by development. Residents are able to collect monthly royalty checks which were desperately needed by most.
On the flip side, since April of 2010, our town has received much negative publicity due to the litigation of the Carter Road families. Environmental groups, movie stars, movie directors, and out-of-state politicians have all jumped on the band wagon in an attempt to put a halt to hydraulic fracturing of horizontal natural gas wells. These groups all have their own agenda and are using the so-called “contaminated water” as a springboard to promote themselves and their causes. Our country needs to reduce its dependency on foreign energy. Natural gas is a clean energy source that can help achieve that goal.
I digress – back to the negative publicity our Town of Dimock is receiving. The 11 Dimock families seem to be attempting to settle their lawsuit in the court of public opinion. They are using the internet to refer to our town as “ground zero”, which gives an impression that Dimock is a polluted, barren town that is in ruins. Let me tell you that 99.9% of the people in Dimock are grateful to be a part of the development of clean energy. We all have clean water in our water wells. We resent having our town being disgraced and smeared in the media. The ongoing lawsuit is between 11 families and a gas exploration company. So as to keep the lawsuit alive and colossal, facts are being blown out of proportion. Here are the facts as I have learned them (firsthand) from lifelong residents while going door-to-door with our petition:
Methane is a natural occurrence. Methane has been present in the water of Susquehanna County for hundreds of years. We have many lifelong residents who are willing, and able, to attest to that. As a matter of fact, one of those lifelong residents actually grew up with one of the 11 litigants. He tells of the childhood escapades he and his litigant friend shared in. The two of them would go into the woods (as young children) to hide out and smoke. They would go down by the creek and light the creek water on fire. Mind you, this was over 50 years ago. Why doesn’t the litigant remember this? Who in the world would have thought to put a cigarette lighter next to their water faucet and light their water? In my opinion, only one who had prior knowledge that it was even possible.
The affected families have been offered twice the assessed value of their homes. The 4.1 million dollars is in an escrow account for them and they have been informed of how to collect their money. The litigants have refused the money. REPEAT: The litigants have refused the money.
The affected families have been offered a free water treatment system for their homes. In October of last year, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said Cabot met the requirements that the DEP imposed on them – putting twice the assessed value of their homes in an escrow account, and offering a free methane removal system to homeowners. Therefore, Cabot could stop delivery of water to the homes by November 30, 2011. Cabot sent letters to affected homeowners on November 1, advising that water deliveries will stop on November 30. The litigants have refused the water treatment systems. REPEAT: The litigants have refused the water treatment systems. Isn’t it absurd that after November 30th the litigants go on camera and claim that they had no idea the water deliveries would stop and ask questions like “what are we going to do now?”
The litigants are collecting gas royalties. Enough said.
A compilation of half-truths and misinformation has turned the name “Dimock” into a dirty word. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. We, the silent majority of Dimock, live in a wonderful town and we all have pure, clean water in our water wells. Please stop offering help to people who don’t need help. Did you know that one litigant is building a brand new house on the very same land that supposedly has tainted water? Would you build a house on land that really has tainted water?
These 11 litigants have been offered FREE HELP and have declined it so that their lawsuit stays alive and will for as long as they keep getting away with their bogus claims. By the way, one litigant bought his more than 100 acres with the money he gained from – – – guess what – – – a lawsuit! Now, do you want to continue supporting their cause? It’s best to learn both sides of the story before jumping in to support a cause that has little if any legitimacy. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!