Marcellus Shale

Dimock – What I Learned on Carter Road

As my first week with Energy in Depth comes to a wrap, all I can say is “Wow.” I have learned many facts about the industry, had the pleasure of visiting a natural gas production site and Dimock’s “Ground Zero” on Carter Road. It was a whirlwind week and has only helped to further enhance my excitement to work on the EID Marcellus team.

One thing is certain–until people get out and see these sites for themselves they will never understand the complexity of a natural gas operation.  That much is clear as I begin to wrap my head around natural gas exploration.  This topic, and hydraulic fracturing in particular, leave many people with a bad taste in their mouth because of the controversy.  Most of  us tend to avoid arguments in which we we don’t have a stake.

I can admit, living out of the  Marcellus region, I was skeptical at first, too, because there is just so much misinformation circulating in the media. I’ve done my research, seen the operations first hand and can confidently say when I talk about it now, I am not left with that same bad taste. In fact, I feel a great deal of pride in my country for being able to explore and harvest such a great natural resource on our own soil. I am hoping I can soon have that same pride for my home state of New York.

The way natural gas production is portrayed in some media and by certain families in the public is simply not correct. Many think that production sites are very hazardous conditions for people in and around the site. Upon visiting a working site it is immediately noticed that this is not the case.  Operations are highly technical, are methodically regulated, and overseen with the utmost care and attention to detail to ensure the operations are conducted safely.

As I continued my journey from rig to rig, I had the opportunity to see where many natural gas pipelines have been laid. Not that I could actually see any pipeline, but my tour guide pointed out the exact location one ran through a farm. The only thing I saw was just that, a farm.

Rockvale Farm

Find the pipeline!

Carter Road “Ground Zero”

As we arrived at Carter Road I had an excited feeling. This is it. I finally get to see what all the hype has been about, i told myself.  I prepared for the worst because, where I’m from Dimock and the term “wasteland” tend to be synonymous. While I knew much of what I had read in the news had already been refuted by science and water testing, I think I still expected to see some hint of truth on that famous stretch of road. I was happy to learn there was none.

As I passed the Sautner’s house all I could see were dozens of anti natural gas signs, dirty looks shot my way and reporters. This was the only hint of discontent; the only marring of a sleepy road that has been given an undo spotlight by the world.

One of these signs (see below) especially caught my eye. It was a “For Sale” sign on the Sautner property in the amount of $5,000,000! I’ve heard stories of price gouging in the media, but that about takes the cake. This family has already been offered twice the value of their home, and yet they have continuously asked for money over clean water. That sign was a real eye opener to what is really going on in an otherwise quiet town.  It was obviously intended as some form of sarcasm, but it still provides insight into what this ongoing discussion is all about.

Sautner's for sale $5,000,000 facing their neighbors

Sautner's $5,000,000 "For Sale" Sign Facing Their Neighbors

We passed the Sautner’s house and pulled into their neighbors’ who live not more then a few hundred feet from the house with “bad drinking water.” It was here that I met one of the nicest and kind spirited people I have ever met. She didn’t give me any dirty looks, instead, offered me something to eat and the opportunity to hear the side of the story the media doesn’t seem interested in covering.  She was in Gasland, by the way, and is none too happy with Josh Fox.

After leaving the neighbors house, we drove less then half a mile down the road where I saw a well pad owned by another natural gas production company in the area. This is where I became confused about the entire situation.

It is common knowledge Cabot Oil and Gas has stopped production in a nine square mile zone around the “affected wells” until the Department of Environmental Protection approves them to resume operations in the zone.  Yet, here were other companies developing in the same area. It just didn’t make sense.

The dozen or more signs on the front yard of the Saunter’s read “Stop Fracking” and “Stop Natural Gas Production.” But, if their water was truly contaminated because of hydraulic fracturing and natural gas production wouldn’t you want all natural gas production stopped in the area instead of just suing Cabot Oil and Gas for an absurd amount of money?

Out of all the coast to coast media attention that has been brought to this area including the “documentary” Gasland, the only video that I have seen portraying Dimock with any semblance of truth, has been a video by Dimock Proud.

I am excited to continue to dispel the myths portrayed in the media about Dimock and other aspects of natural gas exploration. If this first week is any indicator, I’ll have my hands full, but the truth is something that needs to be heard and I’m excited for the challenge.

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