MDN Weekly Update – Jan 22, 2012: Should the EPA Butt Out of Dimock?

poll resultsLast week’s MDN poll asked when you believe shale gas drilling will begin in New York State. An interesting result, with 65% who believe it will begin either this year or next year, but 35% who believe it will never happen. 

When do you think Marcellus Shale drilling in New York State will begin?

2012 (30%, 78 Votes)
2013 (35%, 89 Votes)
Never (35%, 89 Votes)

Total Voters: 256

This Week’s Poll: Does the EPA have a role in investigating the Dimock, PA water contamination case?

Begin rant.

MDN has written numerous times about the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) propensity to stick it’s nose into affairs properly handled by the individual states. Specifically, the EPA wants to regulate oil and gas drilling nationwide, a responsibility that constitutionally belongs to states, not the federal government. But the EPA is not content to leave it alone, so they are looking for ways to insert themselves into the drilling debate by latching onto any excuse.

The latest excuse is Dimock, Pennsylvania. In brief, Cabot Oil & Gas was found by the Pennsylvania DEP to have caused (or made worse) methane migration into the water wells for 19 families in the Dimock area, and ordered to provide water deliveries to those households, install methane mitigation systems, and pay homeowners twice the value of their homes. Eight of the families accepted that settlement, but 11 families have said a) their water is contaminated with more than just methane, they say it also contains chemicals from fracking, and b) they want a LOT more money. It’s payday honey! Let’s soak the drilling company. So those families have refused the settlement, but want Cabot to keep delivering water for as long as it takes to sue them into eternity.

The PA DEP said “enough” and told Cabot they can suspect water deliveries (that have now gone on for years) to those households that refuse the more-than-fair settlement. Cabot did stop the deliveries at the end of November, and the media went into overdrive covering the story of how that nasty Cabot pulled the rug out from under those poor, helpless families that can’t even get a cup o’ water.

Enter the EPA. They have now wedged their fat derrière at the table and have demanded to be part of the “ongoing” investigation. At first they told the families, “the data looks good to us, there is no problem.” Then they said, “wait, there’s missing data in them thar files.” They promised to restart deliveries of water themselves, then welched on the promise within 24 hours. Then said they changed their minds again and would start deliveries of water for four of the families. Whew. Can anyone say “flaky”?

Where we stand now: The EPA is going to conduct their own tests of water wells in Dimock, and in the meantime is supposed to have restarted water deliveries to four families.

The monstrosity that is the EPA was created in 1970 by then-President Richard Nixon. Rue the day. It was created for a noble purpose, “To protect human health and the environment.” The problem is, like with all government agencies, it tends to overstep its bounds. Just because they can throw their considerable weight around, doesn’t mean they should. And it certainly doesn’t mean they can just grab power that constitutionally belongs to the states. But that’s just what they are trying to do.

End rant.

This week’s poll asks, should the EPA investigate the Dimock water contamination case? Register your vote on the right side of any page.

Below are the most recent “top 5” lists and the calendar of Marcellus-related events for the next two weeks.

Happy reading,
Jim Willis, Editor

P.S. MDN is working on a new permits report that will be published soon (in February). Keep watching MDN for details in the coming weeks. This new report is better than the last by orders of magnitude!

Five Most Viewed Stories This Past Week (Jan 15th – Jan 21st)

  1. Is the Shale Rush Almost Over? One Analyst Says Yes (1/16/12)
  2. NY Gov. Cuomo Signals Drilling Not Likely to Happen in 2012 (1/17/12)
  3. New Timeline for Shell Cracker Plant Announcement (1/19/12)
  4. Pastor Claims Bible Says ‘Thou Shalt Not Frack’ (1/18/12)
  5. Bill Extending NY Fracking Moratorium Hits Assembly Today (1/18/12)

Five Most Viewed Stories Last 30 Days (Dec 22nd – Jan 21st)

  1. Teamsters Marcellus Pipeline Workers Walk Out on Strike (1/4/12)
  2. Ohio Offers Shell Cracker Plant $1.4B in Tax Incentives (1/2/12)
  3. Fracking Fluid Spill in Bradford PA Result of Sabotage (1/11/12)
  4. Chesapeake’s Utica Shale Mystery JV Partner Revealed (1/3/12)
  5. Exxon Buys 13,200 Acres of Utica Shale Leases in Ohio (1/9/12)

MDN Calendar (Jan 22nd – Feb 4th)


New York



West Virginia


  • Anonymous

    You are a little over the top on the EPA. We would likely be living in a toxic cloud of smog with rivers that still catch fire [remember that] by now without it. Ever been to China? People there are dying by the millions from respiratory diseases and cancers directly related to unregulated environmental pollution. Big industry requires a big cop to make it tow the line. Everyone  likes clean air and water until the expense of having it comes out of their pocket.I know this Dimock thing  is irritating,but we can not go back to the days when we each could do what was only in our best interest. Health is everything;let the EPA do its ponderous investigation and if some new regulation to enhance public safety comes out  of it; so be it.

  • Dee Hartman

    Drilling in New York hinges on the upper East Side and now the West side! Drilling doesn’t have any appeal at the Waldorf! Now if your rich enough you might have a roof top garden emblematic of  the Sierra Club! The new scale includes a very small solar panel on the Pent House balcony to power the double Expresso machine. Be nice to see some statistics comparing “renewable” energy cost to hydro carbon. Nothing wrong with hydro except the “dam” consequences.  

  • a s

    What turned the EPA’s view was testing done by Cabot in the 3rd quarter of 2011 that was marked confidential and released only after the environmental hearing board made a ruling on the December 2010 consent agreement against the litigants.  When I compare specific wells in the Cabot report to what was in the Pavillion,WY report I was shocked.  Then I looked at some of the non-litigants wells.  One was next to the couple that is so love due to the jugs of water they carry all over the place.  That well was also worse than the testing in Pavillion in many of the areas and below in others, but still above residental standard and a few above industrial standards.

    Something is up, and I would hate to be Cabot right now expecialy for how long they held onto the report and what happened in the time they held onto it.

  • Anonymous

    Read this and tell me what you think. 

    Take a look at the dates … the issues of clean air and clean water were WELL under way … and had been since 1911 … when Moynahan [a Democrat] and Nixon [a Republican] got “snuckered” by the phoney forecasts that New York City would be ten feet under water by the year 2000. 

    So, read this September 1969 memorandum by Moynihan …

    Gotta read this.

    So, the Environmentalists were unanimous in their belief … religion, anyone? … that carbon dioxide would put NYC underwater by 2000 and raise temperatures by 7 degrees.

    By the year 2000 … 

    … how real has this been????

    This article is an absolute must read.

    Global warming definitely going to cause total world chaos in 30 years … without question.…carbon-dioxide


    Declassified documents show Nixon warned of global warning 30 years ago
    Friday, July 02, 2010
    YORBA LINDA, Calif. – Documents released Friday by the Nixon Presidential Library show members of President Richard Nixon’s inner circle discussing the possibilities of global warming more than 30 years ago.

    Adviser Daniel Patrick Moynihan, notable as a Democrat in the administration, urged the administration to initiate a worldwide system of monitoring carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, decades before the issue of global warming came to the public’s attention.

    There is widespread agreement that carbon dioxide content will rise 25 percent by 2000, Moynihan wrote in a September 1969 memo.

    “This could increase the average temperature near the earth’s surface by 7 degrees Fahrenheit,” he wrote. “This in turn could raise the level of the sea by 10 feet. 

    Goodbye New York. Goodbye Washington, for that matter.”

    Moynihan was Nixon’s counselor for urban affairs from January 1969 – when Nixon began his presidency – to December 1970. He later served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations before New York voters elected him to the Senate.

    Moynihan advised Nixon to monitor carbon dioxide levels in 1969 memo. (Duprey/News)

    Moynihan received a response in a January 26, 1970 memo from Hubert Heffner, deputy director of the administration’s Office of Science and Technology. Heffner acknowledged that atmospheric temperature rise was an issue that should be looked at.

    “The more I get into this, the more I find two classes of doom-sayers, with, of course, the silent majority in between,” he wrote. “One group says we will turn into snow-tripping mastodons because of the atmospheric dust and the other says we will have to grow gills to survive the increased ocean level due to the temperature rise.”

    Heffner wrote that he would ask the Environmental Science Services Administration to look further into the issue.
    Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency and had an interest in the environment. In one memo, Moynihan noted his approval of the first Earth Day, to be held April 22, 1970.”Clearly this is an opportunity to get the President usefully and positively involved with a large student movement,” he wrote to John Ehrlichman, Nixon’s adviser on domestic affairs.Moynihan’s memo was among 100,000 documents released Friday.

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