Message to Gas Industry: DRBC Hearings Were Missed Opportunity

"Environmentalists" - MarkindDaniel B. Markind, Esq.
Weir and Partners, LLP


Dan Markind says the natural gas industry missed a great opportunity to get the facts about fracking out to the uninformed at the DRBC hearings.

The Delaware River Basin Commission held public hearings last week on the proposed ban on hydraulic fracturing in the basin.  On Thursday, the DRBC met near Philadelphia International Airport.

Public comment lasted three hours.  Each speaker was allowed three minutes.  Within the first half hour, a man named Jonathan Lutz from the American Petroleum Institute stated that the industry supports 320,000 jobs and encourages healthy regulation but opposes the full ban. He questioned the science quoted by many of the speakers.  After his three minutes, Mr. Lutz walked out (at least I think so, I didn’t see him afterwards).

I was speaker No. 52.  With the exception of me, every speaker afterwards spoke in favor of the DRBC’s proposal.  Every one!  Many asked the DRBC to go further and to expand the ban to include the prohibition of water withdrawal for fracking purposes from the basin or the treatment or storage of flowback within the basin.

A good approximation of what I said is here. This is not verbatim as I ad libbed my testimony based on notes I took during the meeting.  I listened to every speaker, heard what they said, addressed some key points they made and stayed afterward for anyone who wanted to talk about the issues.  A couple actually did.

Where was the industry?  Did they care that, to the uninformed who were present, the only points made were the same ones, over and over, unchallenged, about how many scientific studies linked fracking to health problems, how bad fracking is for the environment and what it does to property values?  Of course, the overwhelming majority of the 100-150 people in attendance were anti-fracking activists who had their minds made up, but not all.  In fact, I would guess most of the attendees had never heard the industry’s environmental case articulated.  They certainly didn’t hear it Thursday.

Despite paying lip service to the need to outreach to the people of Southeastern Pennsylvania (where the majority of votes are in this State), on Thursday the industry was largely AWOL.

Notwithstanding API’s one solitary speaker, the industry sent nobody else.

The pipeline companies sent nobody.

The Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Chambers of Commerce sent nobody.

Had only three or four people spoken in opposition to the “groupthink,” the whole tenor of the meeting could have been different.  Certainly the press coverage might have been.

DRBC Hearings

Not surprisingly, “Dimock” was mentioned at least ten times.  Imagine if a representative of Cabot Oil and Gas had been present. He or she might have gotten up and said:

“Hello, I’m Joe Smith from Cabot Oil and Gas.  It was my company that had those issues in Dimock and we’ve been working with the residents there since then.  I can never promise that we’ll be perfect but from now on, but we’ve doing our best for several years now.  Indeed, it’s been almost a decade since those issues and our record is now superb.

By the way, you might be interested to learn that a few  years after Cabot arrived, we had to decide where to build our Northeastern Pennsylvania headquarters.  We chose Dimock.  The residents were thrilled.  Local Dimock residents come to our headquarters every day.  Quite a few of them work for us.  From what you’ve been told today, you would think that the people of Dimock hate us.  Actually, the opposite is true.  Every poll that’s been taken of the local residents shows overwhelming support for fracking.  But please don’t take my word for it, why don’t you come up and see for yourselves.  On behalf of Cabot, I’m inviting everyone here to come up to Dimock and visit.  I’ll show you around our offices, you can drive around the area and judge the situation for yourself.  I think you’ll be very surprised.”

Cabot has, in fact, done tons of tours but having someone at that hearing to challenge naysayers would have been poiwerful. The industry needs to care whether or not people in non-shale areas understand its position.  With a little foresight, the industry could have begun to engage the residents of Southeastern Pennsylvania at an event where there was local press coverage and in a way that makes their point.  The industry knew the scientific studies would be raised.  Did anyone even consider bringing down a health professional from Susquehanna County to give the true story of how life expectancy has increased there since fracking started and overall public health is better? I understand this happened in Waymart but Philadelphians heard nothing about that.  Had it happened here it might have gotten local press.

Until the industry gets serious about making its legitimate case to everyone in the State, it has no right to complain about how the public in Pennsylvania doesn’t understand the good it provides.

Editor’s Notes:

(1) A version of this first was sent out by Mr. Markind on his own personal blog on Monday and is posted here with his permission. 

(2) API informs us Jonathan Lutz did an interview with StateImpactPA after he delivered his comments, then returned to the room. He stayed through the evening hours and reported back (as did Energy In Depth) on crowd size. He did duck in and out for additional press conversations and phone calls, but remained there. The Marcellus Shale Coalition and API also testified in Waymart.

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8 thoughts on “Message to Gas Industry: DRBC Hearings Were Missed Opportunity

  1. Mr. Markind, please prove that Cabot has a “superb” record since contaminating a 9 sq. mile area of Dimock…
    Cabot has been racking up DEP violations since Dimock, since 2008, 2009 and to this day.
    They have over 500 DEP Violations in my county and their risky practices spread from Dimock to Lenox and other parts of my county and now in Kingsley/Brooklyn.
    You need to prove your assessments as much as anyone else.

    This is Cabot’s latest mess on the Foltz gas pad in Brooklyn in my county;
    and the DEP Violation states:
    Violation Id: 796036
    Violation Date: 09/06/17
    Violation Code: 78a86 – CASING AND CEMENTING – DEFECTIVE CASING OR CEMENTING – Operator failed to report defect in a well that has defective, insufficient or improperly cemented casing to the Department within 24 hours of discovery. Operator failed to correct defect or failed to submit a plan to correct the defect for approval by the Department within 30 days.

    More casing failures on their five gas wells and I spoke to a DEP Inspector for that site and water wells nearby all ready is showing gas migration and impacts from this area of gas drilling.

    If everything is so good, why all the settlements, water deliveries, water treatment systems, fines, non-disclosures connected with Cabot and even some of the other gas companies in my county besides across the state.

    Show us the polls of the vast support for Cabot or the gas companies in my county; when were the polls taken, how many asked and by whom.
    Take one now in 2018 and see what kind of responses you get and how many in favor..

    You have yet to meet the families impacted and dealing with water and air and life impacts for years now..
    are you afraid to find out more than you want to know…
    If they even can speak..since many are gagged….

    Get first hand information and be on the ground where the impacts are happening and not just take the Industry story…

    The majority at the Waymart hearing were also for a full ban….

    Tom Shepstone, I’m still not getting notifications for responses…I checked my spam and junk mail; and you may have an old email for me in your system; please check and change to;
    thanks, Tom….

  2. Vera,

    As I said last time, I will be happy to meet with you and the other landowners and see for myself. You have my email, please send me some dates in the next month that work for you. I will be in the Tunkhannock/Montrose area for a few hours this coming Tuesday but I don’t think I’ll have enough time to see what you want to show me.


  3. Dan…I’m not against the gas companies but I would like to show you what has occurred on my property and NO ONE is willing to except responsibility for it. All I’ve gotten is ridiculous excuses from DEP and Cabot saying if you think we did it get an attorney. I’m inviting you to come see and give me your opinion. Sheila

  4. The gas industry needs to grow a set of Balls!

    Retired from DEP after 30+ years dealing with water issues and NEVER was involved with any other industry that would just roll over and play dead , instead of FIGHTING for their rights. Example–Gas industry is the ONLY industry that MUST meet non-scientific wastewater effluent limits for TDS in PA. OK for a Pharmaceutical Industry to discharge 25,000 PPM of TDS in to the Brandwine , but a gas company must meet 250 PPM in ANY waterway.

    The Gas industry deserves to be held in contempt. If you want respect, you must earn it….and you do NOT earn it by lying down and letting people S… on you!

    • Even without my being any kind of Cabot-defender like you’ve been known to be, I’m thinking that your sodium likely came from some salted-for-generations-before-our-friends-the-fracmen-came, road that, let me guess, is uphill from your water well?

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