Dimock plaintiffs’ expert Paul Rubin tripped over himself in Federal court on Thursday, showing everyone why his testimony is so often frowned on by courts.
The Scott Ely trial against Cabot Oil and Gas is one of those gifts that just never stop coming. Thursday afternoon was yet another perfect illustration of how fractivism works; well, actually, how it doesn’t work. Hydrogeologist Paul Rubin showed up on the stand as an expert, which was surprising in itself, given his history of being rejected by the courts and his preference for advocacy over science. He astoundingly proceeded to say he was no activist but subsequently admitted he was very much opposed to non-renewable energy development. He then tried to get out of it by saying his opposition wasn’t about the science, as if that made him look better. His testimony was a complete joke.
Readers will recall the name Paul Rubin. He’s one of the Delaware Povertykeeper’s favorite “experts,” having participated in a junk science initiative led by Maya van Rossum last year, one in which Tony Ingraffea and Bob Howarth also joined. Paul Rubin was also one of the experts used by the Napoli Bern Ripka trial lawyer firm (involved as well with the Dimock case before it became obvious there was no evidence) in a trial agains Anscutz Exploration in New York. There the judge concluded this about Paul Rubin’s testimony (emphasis added):
Exercising its gate keeping function, the Court determines that, considering his reports and his deposition testimony, Rubin’s testimony at trial would not be based upon sufficient facts or data, would not be the product of reliable principles and methods, and that, in any event,Rubin has not applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case. Therefore, his testimony would not be admissible…
Rubin’s speculation is not sufficient to establish causation.
Paul Rubin was, incredibly enough, also involved in the Loren Kiskadden case out in Washington County, with similar results:
The Appellant’s hydrogeology expert testified in a conclusory manner and his “shotgun” approach to what caused the contamination was not persuasive based on the evidence he relied on. The scores of lab results introduced into evidence by the Appellant did not support the theory that his well was contaminated by Range’s operations. As we explained, high chloride readings can be a good indicator that drilling operations have contaminated a water source. For example, it is undisputed that the Yeager Springs were contaminated by Range’s drilling operations, and the chloride readings in the samples taken from the Yeager Springs were in the thousands. In contrast, the chlorides in Mr. Kiskadden’s water well never exceeded 44 mg/l.
This less than sterling record didn’t stop the Dimock plaintiffs from using Paul Rubin as their “expert” in this case and he lived up to expectations. It started with Dimock plaintiff’s attorney Leslie Lewis asking him “Do you consider yourself an activist one way or the other? One might think the answer had to be yes, given the following picture of him speaking at a 2011 Dimock protest with the infamous Sautners and a“Drilling Isn’t Safe” button on his lapel:
If you thought wearing an anti-drilling button while speaking at an ant-drilling protest with the Sautners might make one an activist, Paul Rubin was there on Thursday to say “You’re wrong!”
No. I do look at the science, in whatever topic whether gas drilling, and I learn as much as I can. I read papers. I learn as much as I can and then I form my opinions based on sound science all the time.
As evident here, Paul Rubin is a very poor witness; one of those people who can’t resist an attempt to explain things or explain away things when a simple yes or no would suffice. He had to be repeatedly reminded, during his testimony, to simply answer the questions put to him. Time and again got himself in trouble trying to do the opposite. That was the case when Cabot Attorney Amy Barrette asked him if he “came into this case with a preconceived bias against natural coal, gas and oil development.” Here’s how the answer went:
A. It has nothing to do with my science.
Q. Mr. Rubin you came into this case with a preconceived notion that you were against, and a bias that you were against, natural gas coal and non-renewable energy exploration correct?
A. Based on my evaluation, of environmental factors.
Q. Mr. Rubin it’s a simple yes or no. You came into this case with a bias against non-renewable energy exploration, correct?
Pretty amazing, huh? He admits to his bias and says it’s not about his science, but, rather “environmental factors.” One must, therefore, presume “environmental factors” have nothing to do with science in his mind. The only thing one can take from this is that Paul Rubin is a true believer environmentalist who views it as a religion not based on science. Yet, we’re all supposed to accept the fact this true believer, who rejects science as the basis of his environmentalism and opposition to non-renewables, can render an objective scientific opinion? It was devastating for anyone who considered what the man actually said.
It went like that pretty much all afternoon as one Paul Rubin contention after another was exposed as speculation, his arguments essentially being the same as those he used in the Anschutz and Kiskadden cases. (Some readers may remember how, in the latter, he suggested water could flow in any direction from a well site). It turned out, too, that Rubin hadn’t followed EPA protocols for water testing, had rejected the results from DEP and EPA water tests, and had let Scott Ely himself participate in the water testing process despite the latter’s self-interest. Not only that, but there was no evidence the wells had been properly purged prior to testing, which will often yield discolored water, and some photographic evidence they hadn’t been. Topping it off, Rubin had to resort to a “typo” excuse to explain much of it away.
Overall, it was, once again, pitiful. Rubin tried and tried to avoid answering embarrassing questions but he kept getting trapped, as, for example, he dd in this response to a Barrette question:
Q. All right. And despite all of that, everything that we’ve just gone through, it was your position that any of the sampling done by the EPA or the PA DEP or Duke University or any of the other people who have sampled that water, those should all be disregarded and the only one that is relevant to this case or accurate would be yours, is that correct? Isn’t that what you testified?
A. It is.
Rubin then asked if he could “embellish” his answer but the judge told him he’d have to wait for redirect questions from his attorney to do that. The damage had been done. But, that wasn’t the end of it. Rubin, in the rescue attempt by his attorney, was asked to explain exactly how he had involved Scott Ely in the testing and to describe what procedures they had used. Rubin spelled it and then Lewis asked him if had received any of information that Ely had done anything other than follow his directions? He answered “No” but then couldn’t help himself, volunteering this:
He told me he followed my directions.
The judge ruled it out as hearsay but, once again, the damage had been done and Ms. Lewis received another lesson in lawyering; never ask a question for which you don’t already know the answer. The answer, of course, sums it all up; the entire Dimock case rests on the word of self-interested parties (among whom is Paul Rubin himself who is still awaiting payment for his services) and true-believers. Theres nothing else there.