Dueling Press Conferences in Dimock PA

press conferenceIn the ongoing press event that is Dimock, PA, yesterday Gasland creator Josh Fox and actor Mark Rufalo, among others, gathered in Dimock to keep up the pressure and to continue to demagogue what has really happened in Dimock. See MDN’s previous coverage for background. A brief summary of events leading up to yesterday’s dueling press conferences:

The state Department of Environmental Protection determined in 2009 that faulty Marcellus Shale wells drilled by Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. caused methane to seep into water supplies. Cabot has denied that it caused the methane contamination, which it says occurs naturally in 80 percent of the water wells it has tested throughout Susquehanna County.

A planned $11.8 million public water line promised to residents as a remedy by state regulators in October 2010 was scrapped two months later when the agency and Cabot signed a $4.6 million settlement. The agreement required the driller to pay each of 19 affected families twice the tax-assessed value of their homes and offer to install methane-removal systems, terms 11 of the affected families refused.

Regulators said Cabot met its obligations and could stop delivering replacement bulk and bottled drinking water on Nov. 30.*

So 11 families refused the more-than-fair settlement (being paid twice what your home is worth AND installing a water filtration system) and have elected to sue Cabot, in essence preferring perpetual victimhood over moving on. PA regulators have had enough of their victimhood stunts and told Cabot they can stop water deliveries as of Nov. 30, and they have. So those 11 families, along with people like Fox and Rufalo (who incidentally don’t care a whit about those families but are using them for their own agenda purposes) convened a press event yesterday to bleat about the evil, nasty Cabot and government dunces aiding the drilling industry over citizens.

Right next door was a press conference held by the families who have accepted the settlement and have moved on:

At a rally at a home next door to the drilling opponents, supporters of Cabot said the families suing the driller and their outside allies have "defamed our community," where the water is clean and drinkable.

"We are a thriving, proud, healthy place to live," said resident Bill Aileo, an organizer of the pro-drilling community group Enough is Enough. "We have been very pleased to have natural gas development come to our community. Most of us have benefited from it."

Tim Maye, the owner of the home and one of the 19 affected families, accepted a Cabot treatment system that removes methane, iron, manganese and bacteria from his water. The company also reworked his well and cleaned it of iron bacteria that naturally builds up over time.

"They’re stepping up to the plate," he said.

Organizers of the pro-Cabot rally said the families suing the company have nothing other than naturally occurring methane and metals in their water that does not pose a health risk.*

*The Scranton Times Tribune (Dec 7, 2011) – Outside groups deliver water as sides spar over drilling