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Pigs to Rigs Lawyer Caught Up In “Stupid Is As Stupid Does” Stunt

cost of renewables - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW

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Defendants got caught up in “stupid is as stupid does” stunt on their own side as a Cabot lawsuit against a “pigs to rigs” trial lawyer proceeded last week.

Act IV in the “Pig to Rigs” lawsuit took place last week in the Susquehanna County Courthouse in Montrose, Pennsylvania and, in less than 15 minutes, it revealed everything. County Judge Jason Legg even went to Forrest Gump for an explanation of what he described as a “stupid is as stupid does” stunt he attributed to Ray Kemble, the once plaintiff and now defendant, in the “Pigs to Rigs” lawsuit.

The stunt was bad enough that it caused Kemble’s latest lawyer to temporarily move to withdraw from the case. That was amazing enough but what the Judge probably doesn’t know was this; the stunt appears to have been orchestrated by a fractivist who had all the facts in his possession and knew there was no justification whatsoever for any of Ray’s claims then or now.

Readers will recall how it all started in Act I, when Attorney Charlie Speer and companions representing junkyard plaintiff Ray Kemble filed a lawsuit against Cabot & Oil Gas arguing Kemble’s Dimock well water had been polluted by the company, despite Kemble having previously settled with Cabot.

That was a huge legal no-no and Speer, after getting some free publicity, moved to dismiss his own litigation, probably supposing it would be easy to back away after harassing Cabot a bit. He, in fact, even asked to Cabot to waive its right to seek fees and costs. Cabot, tired of being harassed by people who know better, said “not so fast” and sued for damages, a decidedly refreshing approach.

Ray Kemble (with bandana) and his new Attorney Rich Raiders, who shortly thereafter asked to be withdraw from the case, before he decided to stay (Photo by Reggie Sheffield)

Act II was a hoot, as Ray Kemble took to the TV cameras with his new attorney, a dermatology guy by the name of Rich Raiders who got a law license and has been pursuing fractivist cases. Ray talked about having 30 attorneys rejecting his case prior to getting Raiders to work for him and played innocent David vs. Goliath victim, a scenario many members of the media were only too happy to amplify. Most stories, of course, suggested the issue was all about Ray’s contamination complaints but never asked for the data. Virtually none explained the case brought by Attorney Charlie Speer was so bad he moved to dismiss it himself on behalf of Ray.

Last week, the attorneys went back to court, this time to deal with various procedural matters, the most important of which was the request of Rich Raiders, Ray’s new attorney, to withdraw from representing him. The reason? That was Act III, which I wrote about here, not realizing at the time how it would later influence the bizarre Ray Kemble case saga.

I called it a stupid frack trick, as it involved the mailing of some letters to the governor and attorney general “outlining a criminal conspiracy between state and private actors, to poison the air, land, water, and people, since the first horizontal well was drilled 2/20/2006.” A news release announcing the stunt alleged Ray had “suffered complete loss of his property value, property nuisance, harassment, stalking, threats, loss of personal income, a $5M SLAPP suit, and chronic and acute health impacts.”

The three parties involved in this stupid frack trick were; (1) Craig Stevens, previously associated with pig farm suer Charlie Speer and his local counsel, (2) serial protester Bill Huston, who apparently issued the news release, and (3) Ray Kemble, who was already involved in related litigation and hadn’t bothered to tell his attorney, Rich Raiders. Lawyer Raiders, in fact, told the court last week that he first learned of the stunt by getting multiple media requests for comment. One can only imagine his chagrin. He reacted by filing a motion to withdraw from the case.

When Raiders revealed all this to the court last week, Judge Legg reacted by properly noting Ray Kemble should have legal representation, especially given how difficult it had been for him to get anyone to defend him. Legg asked Raiders if he had reached out to Ray. The attorney said he had restarted communication with Kemble after the latter had written him a letter of apology with a promise to never do anything of that sort again. The judge, noting he, too, had received such a letter then dropped his Forrest Gump rhetorical bomb summarizing the situation as “stupid is as stupid does,” which got pretty much everyone’s attention, including that of Bill Huston, who was in the courtroom.

Pigs to Rigs

Susquehanna County Courthouse

Notwithstanding this, Judge Legg had no idea how accurate his remarks were. The stupidity on display wasn’t so much Ray Kemble’s, though, as it was those of the folks manipulating him. Ray was used, it appears, by Charlie Speer, for example, but he wasn’t the only one. No, Charlie’s sidekick, Craig Stevens, and Bill Huston were apparently right in there, too.

Indeed, at the time Bill Huston was issuing a news release claiming a conspiracy to poison the air, land, water and Ray Kemble, he had copies of correspondence to Ray Kemble from both the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) indicating precisely the opposite and he freely published them on his own blog (ingenuously named BillHustonBlog). Perhaps he’ll take them down now, but they were found in this archive “provided as a Public Service” and, more specifically, here and here. Should Bill take them down, they may also be found here and here.

Once you read these letters, both issued in October 16, 2017, several months prior to Kemble, Stevens and Huston doing their stupid frack trick alleging a public conspiracy to poison Ray, you will understand  the extra depths of stupidity Judge Legg didn’t begin to plumb. Read the full correspondence, but consider these excerpts from the ATSDR letter received after much foolish media ado about the agency coming back to Dimock (emphasis added):

Dear Mr. Kemble:

During the week of July 31, 2017, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) sampled water in 25 homes in the Dimock area for chemicals, including methane, to determine the quality of the water. At your home, water was tested at the kitchen tap (treated bulk Montrose water), from your pressure tank (raw groundwater) and from your bulk water tank (untreated bulk Montrose water)…

Action levels for methane in water are taken from the U.S. Department of the Interior guidance on methane hazards (please see reference at the end of this letter). Methane detected at a concentration below 10 milligrams per liter (mg/L) does not warrant immediate action except for monitoring the appearance of the water and possibly ventilating the home. Concentrations from 10 mg/L through 28 mg/L are considered to be at a warning level. At this level, additional recommendations include the installation of a combustible gas monitor, ventilation of the home, ventilation ofthe well head, and removal of ignition sources in enclosed areas of the home. Concentrations above 28 mg/L require immediate action, and immediate ventilation of the wellhead is recommended. At this level, treatment of the water to remove methane may be needed.

Test results found some tap water samples in the Dimock area had methane gas concentrations in the no immediate action range and others in the warning range. The highest test result was 15 mg/L. No test results were found in the immediate action range (above 28 mg/L)

In your raw well water, methane was found at a concentration of 3.1 mg/L, which is below the warning level of 10 mg/L

Sincerely…

Methane concentrations, in other words, not only fail to represent “poisoning” but don’t even rise to warning levels. This is what might be expected in an area long-known for shallow methane and being able to light water on fire hundreds of years ago in the case of nearby Salt Springs, for example. Moreover, not one of the 25 homes sampled by ATSDR showed methane in the immediate action range, despite all the hype from every corner of the fractivist world and with the help of a sycophant media class reporting from outside the area.

The DEP letter showed even lower methane and two results no doubt directly related to the fact Ray Kemble is not using his well regularly, preferring to be a victim of something and able to produce a bottle of rusty looking water on demand as part of the schtick:

Dear Mr. Kemble:

On September 21, 2017, the Department collected samples from your water supply. The samples were submitted to the Department’s laboratory in Harrisburg for analysis. The analytical reports for the samples are included, as well as documents that will assist you with interpreting the sample results.

The sample results showed several compounds elevated above Department standards. Turbidity was present at 1.64 nephelometric turbidity units (NTU) which exceeds the primary maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 1 NTU. Manganese was detected at 0.446 mg/L which exceeded the secondary MCL of 0.05 mg/L. Primary MCLs are intended to reflect potential dangers to human health, while secondary MCLs reflect the aesthetics of the water (i.e. taste, smell, etc.). Additionally, the sample results showed methane is present at 2.03 mg/L in your water supply.

Sincerely…

Turbidity is what happens when a well not used regularly is suddenly pumped; the sediments that have accumulated and settled during non-use are stirred up. It’s, therefore, hardly a surprise Ray’s well registered above 1 NTU on the turbidity scale. But, here’s the thing; the EPA Drinking Water Standard for turbidity is actually a range of 1 to 5 NTUs, depending on the filtration used and, in Pennsylvania, the upper threshold for public water systems (which Ray’s well is not) is 2 NTUs.

Likewise, manganese, which is an aesthetic issue rather than a health one, is common in the area (36% of Upper Susquehanna Basin water wells equaled or exceeded recommended limits for manganese in a 1984 study by the USGS). Manganese levels can, too, appear to be elevated where a well is not being regularly purged by water usage, which brings right back to the likely cause for those DEP results in the case of Ray’s well. Regardless, like turbidity, high manganese levels can be easily controlled with filtering.

No, there’s no poisoning whatsoever. Ray Kemble’s well simply needs to be used and perhaps filtered to remove common manganese. The whole thing, from Charlie Speer’s “sorry, i didn’t mean it” lawsuit to the stupid frack trick at the Dimock Post Office, has been one continuous scam perpetrated by folks who do, mostly at least, know better. Some of the  “Pigs to Rigs” gang may be stupid; but, conniving is a more apt description for all of them.

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12 thoughts on “Pigs to Rigs Lawyer Caught Up In “Stupid Is As Stupid Does” Stunt

  1. High levels of Methane are still being found in the 9 sq. miles of Dimock
    and I just have results of one family
    and the test results are from Moody, which company
    Cabot uses and Moody tests these homes every two weeks.

    The results are from April 2018 and it’s for 30 mg/L
    per liter …

    I have the results ;

    Cabot tests every two weeks and still can’t come into the area to further frack and drill.
    The DEP Consent Order for this area is that all 19 water wells involved must read below 7 mg./l and
    this is still not happening.

    Otherwise, Cabot would gladly move forward into the
    area.
    Why is Cabot not drilling in this area ?

    I’ve seen methane levels on recent testing in the 80’s
    in this area in the Consent Order of 2010….the past year or so.

    here is the link for the DEP Consent Order:
    http://files.dep.state.pa.us/OilGas/BOGM/BOGMPortalFiles/OilGasReports/Determination_Letters/EAST/CO258482-1_Redacted.pdf
    see page 8…paragraph 4…

    ATSDR also tested water wells from pro-gas landowners who have been quiet these years and will not reveal anything about their water to the public.
    You can ask them about their methane levels if below 7 mg/l….
    you probably know who they are…

    • Vera. I can admit that the studies show that methane levels sometimes, not every time, rises where gas drilling happens and that it is not all that unusual for it to happen. A 2010 consent order that was a rush to judgement as admitted by then DEP head John Hanger who canceled the water pipeline from Montrose that was gonna waste 12-14 million dollars. But really…

      Methane Gas and Its Removal from Water Wells
      Methane gas can occur in water wells from natural processes or from nearby drilling activity.

      Methane Gas and Its Removal from Water Wells – Articles
      Methane Gas and Its Removal from Water Wells
      Methane may occur in a water well due to (natural conditions) or it may enter a well due to human activities including coal mining, gas well drilling, pipeline leaks and from landfills. Methane is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and combustible gas. Production-grade methane is marked by a pungent odor from mercaptan; a chemical odorant added to methane by a gas company before distribution to help in leak detection.

      Methane gas alone is not toxic and does not cause health problems in drinking water but at elevated concentrations it can escape quickly from water causing an explosive hazard in poorly ventilated or confined areas. Escaping gas may seep into confined areas of your home, where it may reach dangerous concentrations. There have been cases in Pennsylvania where houses, camps, or wells have exploded due to methane accumulation.

      The prevalence of methane in water wells in Pennsylvania is not well defined. A 2011 Penn State study of 233 water wells throughout the Marcellus region of Pennsylvania found detectable methane concentrations in 24% of the water wells before drilling began at adjacent gas well sites. However, most dissolved methane concentrations were very low with only 2% of water wells containing dissolved methane above 10 mg/L and less than 1% were above 28 mg/L. A 2012 report from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) summarized dissolved methane results from 239 water wells throughout New York state and found detectable methane concentrations in 53% of the water wells prior to any drilling of unconventional gas wells. In this study, 9% exceeded 10 mg/L and 2% were above 28 mg/L.

      How Much Methane Is Too Much?
      Methane forms an explosive mixture in air at a concentration of 5 to 15 percent by volume. The exact concentration of methane in water that is capable of producing such an explosive mixture depends on the water temperature, ventilation of the water well, percent composition of the gas, and air movement inside the house. The U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Surface Mining suggests that homeowners with wells that have methane concentrations above 28 mg/L should take immediate action to reduce this concentration. Homeowners with wells that have 10 to 28 mg/L should routinely monitor the well to ensure that concentrations are not increasing and may want to consider reducing this concentration. Wells with methane concentrations below 10 mg/L are generally considered safe for use. However, any water well with a detectable concentration of methane should be routinely tested to ensure that the methane concentration is not increasing to a dangerous level.

      If you remember right back in 2011, or 12 Governor Cuomo commissioned a well water test.of 2 – 3 hundred in upstate NY and found the same results which you hold as the holy grail to your opposition

      In your lifetime Vera it would amaze all of us if you for once found the good in gas drilling and the community it has improved YOURS…. i am quite sure you may respond with the list of the harmed or some other fake penned script.and claim nothing good comes from American produced energy here at home but this is your opportunity to confess.

    • Vera, you’ll be thrilled to know that Cabot has announced plans to continue natural gas extraction operations in Susquehanna County.

      “The Texas-based company announced on Twitter it plans to put dozens of new wells into production in 2018.

      According to a Cabot spokesperson, it’s all because two nearby power plants are expected to go online by the end of the year, including the Invenergy plant in Jessup.
      Plus, a pipeline project also will hook Cabot wells into the Baltimore/Washington market.
      Folks who live near Cabot gas wells have certainly seen signs of more drilling and fracking, more truck traffic, and of course, the big rigs towering in the countryside.
      “I noticed a couple more lights in the sky, oil rigs. I always called them steel money trees,” said Gerald Sutton of Laceyville.”

    • How about the high levels of methane produced by Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs … you know the ones that produce the same milk (amongst massive amounts of manure) that goes to new fangled “greek” yogurt that is massively consumed by Vera’s ilk. Even Cuomo bent the rules so that CAFOs could expand from 200 too 299 head of cattle http://www.fltimes.com/news/local/cuomo-proposes-cafo-exemption/article_e0613256-e878-11e1-95d2-0019bb2963f4.html. Which came under fire by environmentalists.

    • Vera,

      Ray’s water doesn’t contain high levels of methane. I’d like to know what was in the green jug of water he was pictured with and claimed it was from his well.

  2. This is what was presented to Binghamton University students albeit you explained it much better Tom. I find it funny that on the post I wrote a few months ago that a few people were telling Mr that I was wrong about the turbidity and water color but I wasn’t. I was on Carter Road this Past Sunday, beautiful place, people were even out in the drizzle working on their yards, the homes that were for sale, sold. I Saw swing sets and toys in the yard no signs of no frack anywhere. The whole Dimock thing was bullshit

  3. Unbelievable, someone wanting money is why per capita the United States has more lawsuits than anywhere else in the world. Thank you Judge Legg.

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