Cabot Lawsuit is Anything But An Attack on the First Amendment


K.J. Rodgers
Crownsville, Maryland  


Fractivist groups have been attempting to brand lawsuits filed by oil and gas companies as First Amendment issues, but this isn’t even close to being true.

Our founding fathers had outstanding foresight when they began drafting the Constitution. When the Bill of Rights was proposed, several of them were against detailing those rights we now as the Bill of Rights. This was not a case of believing those rights were insignificant, but rather, a fear that detailing such individual rights would limit them to the original 10 (the list had included 12, but only 10 were approved).

1st Amendment We now have a Bill of Rights that most of us hold to be next to sacred and, as I see it, they’re in order of precedence. The First Amendment is the foundation of all our freedoms. This is why I hold this amendment close, for better and for worse, and will always side with our ability to speak freely.

I offer this preface with regard to my beliefs because of a recent article on the Desmog Blog, a fractivist website that dispenses with facts in favor of emotional appeals. The blog recently posted an article with the hyped-up title of “Oil and Gas Industry’s 2017 Suing Spree Could Set Speech-Chilling Precedents.” This headline caught my attention as I worried briefly I had perhaps missed something big. Like them or hate them, fractivists have a right to speech, and I will choose that right over nearly anything; making me think for once that I might need to stand up for them.

Clearly, this was not the case, though. I knew this immediately, on clicking the link, when I saw the picture below of Dimock junkyard plaintiff, Ray Kemble, holding up some green juice. Readers of NaturalGasNow have been following him for years, and more recently with respect to Cabot’s lawsuit against him and his attorneys. Desmog Blog also piled on with an emotional “Cancer Patient Gagged” subtext painting Kemble as a victim.

Ray KembleThe post says:

“Back in 2010 state environmental regulators concluded that Cabot Oil and Gas’s drilling operations had contaminated the area’s groundwater and ordered the company to cough up $4.6 million. In May 2016, federal health officials concluded that the drinking water in Dimock was indeed unsafe, and in December 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) long-awaited national study warned that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has contaminated drinking water supplies across the U.S. (without directly commenting on Kemble’s situation).

Cabot signed settlements with virtually all of the families drawing water from the contaminated Pennsylvania aquifer, though the precise terms of those agreements remain secret. A separate federal lawsuit, brought by two families down the road from Kemble, the Elys and the Huberts, was settled in September for an undisclosed amount, a sign that the Ely and Hubert settlement also includes a non-disclosure clause.”

This provides some immediate insights into how fractivists twist facts and simply lie, everything in the first paragraph being either false or a complete distortion of the facts. Moreover, Kemble, who settled with Cabot in 2012, is being sued for breaching terms of his settlement. After settling, he has continued to go out and slander the organization – attempting to milk the situation for all the fame and money he can squeeze out. Slander, libel, yelling fire in a crowded room, or violating a settlement agreement are, however, not protected speech. It’s interesting that Desmog Blog chose to ignore these facts as well as the role and potential liability of Kemble’s attorneys for breaking a settlement agreement. That was no oversight; rather, it was an attempt to falsely brand the lawsuit as a free speech issue.

The second thing about the post that stuck out to me was a “Suing the Grassroots” subtitle it used. Desmog Blog was referring to Energy Transfer Partnership, builder of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which is suing fractivist organizations, alleging racketeering and conspiracy. It’s yet another attempt to portray the story as innocent little guys up against big bad corporations. But, as is typical with such storylines, the truth is precisely the opposite.

Terrorists Protestors

They look very peaceful, don’t they?

The NODAPL groups reigned terror and destruction during their ginned-up protest events. It was coordinated criminal activity and RICO is the appropriate remedy. This is not a David and Goliath story. It is, essentially, a mafia story where smaller groups of useful idiots are used to conduct extortion, violence and terror to bend others to the will of well-financed special interests. It was anything but peaceful assembly, although Desmog Blog characterizes it as follows:

“Even if the oil industry’s 2017 lawsuits don’t make it very far, the specter of defending multi-million dollar legal claims could make non-profits and social movements nervous about publicly criticizing powerful corporations.”

What Desmog Blog is saying here is that contracts and laws against libel and vandalism don’t matter. They’re also saying businesses and those who have money shouldn’t be entitled to free speech unless they come down on the side of the special interests for whom they advocate. I am quite sure this not what our fathers thought when drafting the First Amendment. This idea these vandals and lawbreakers are being punished for standing up to power is absurd and a slap in the face to all of us who value our freedom of speech.

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5 thoughts on “Cabot Lawsuit is Anything But An Attack on the First Amendment

  1. Homeowners leases should all be honored. Homeowners should have the right to know exactly what has been done to/on their property. Dep has regulations that should be honored. Homeowners shouldn’t need to file rtk requests attempting to find out what was/is being done. Information shouldn’t be hidden from homeowners. Perhaps the Dep & a certain company should actually sit down & discuss things w/ the homeowners. Also for some properties the actual value is not the assessed value not every lease is the same & not ever property is assessed the same.

  2. “Dimock, Pennsylvania, landowner Ray Kemble, who was diagnosed with bladder cancer in March 2017, was sued in August by Cabot Oil and Gas, which drilled a series of Marcellus shale wells in Kemble’s hometown.”
    The opening to this story clearly implies the drilling caused the cancer. Hardly. Note the cigar. My bladder cancer team at Geisinger Danville stated smoking placed me in the 2/3 of white males that contract the disease. This DeSmog Blog story is quite biased and clearly surpasses free speech in my opinion.

    • Here is just a fraction of my experience with desmog blog and free speech. The editor of the site which purports to do investigative journalism BANNED me from commenting on the site about the quality of what they call “journalism” being done there. The site doesn’t do journalism at least not accurate, unbiased journalism and it’s editor doesn’t give a hoot about people’s ability to speak, that’s a fact.

      The site has long done antifracking pipeline propoganda.

      The way I see it there are mutliple things going on with the concept of free speech and free press when it comes to the fracking and pipeline issues. We may live in a country where people are free to speak but this doesn’t mean that one’s opinions or speech are fact based now does it?

  3. …And, in typical Alinsky fashion, the Desmog Blog folks censored this writer by removing my comment which respectfully refuted numerous data points (lies) that another commentator put forth regarding the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipeline protests.

    In case you folks are unaware, a technique termed the Gish Gallop is increasingly used in these online discussions in attempts to influence a wider, uninformed audience.
    Essentially listing several sources/reports that the poster realizes no one will read, an individual will refer to a perceived “higher” (more knowledgeable) authority to buttress their argument.

    The above statement by Desmog Blog that the EPA report has determined frac’ing (fracking, in their pet spelling) has contaminated drinking water supplies is a flat out lie.
    The much-examined cases of Parker county, Texas, Pavillion, Wyoming, and Dimock, Pennsylvania are all described in their own text boxes. If readers do not wish to go through the 50 page executive summary or the 660+ pages of the actual assessment (outstanding body of work, IMHO. A truly professional meta study of 1,200 sources and earlier studies conducted nationwide), simply downloading the pdf and skimming through the brief text boxes should suffice.

    The tide is turning against the anti-fossil fuel, anti-pipeline people.
    Their ramping up of intensity in attacks and falsehoods in presentations are indications of a rapidly weakening base.

  4. Hello a pawn and his money are soon separated. It’s a shame what the citizens environmental defense league has done to Ray, but Ray let it happen to himself, feeding off the notoriety, free airplane rides to rally’s as a poster boy for the anti movement. I can’t feel very sorry for Ray because he enjoyed every ride every, every applaud, every attaboy he got. What people like Ray, Vera, Steingraber, Walter Hang, and yes even Governor Cuomo don’t seem or don’t care to realize is they needlessly destroyed lives in order to make money and/or seek power and influence for themselves. Walter Hang made $2.25 million, Steingraber got her book tours, Ray his false friends, and Vera found 15 minutes of fame and became a hero to people liked Hope For Peace who just live the LIE so they could destroy lives for Utopia that does not exist.


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