Cabot Oil and Gas Sees Injustice as it Responds to PaDEP Announcement
5th October 2010
In an effort to reaffirm its position of innocence per say, regarding the methane gas migration into the Northeastern Pennsylvania water supply, Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation has released an informative statement. The company stated that even though it disagrees with John Hanger, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PaDEP), and his assertion that Cabot is at fault, the company is committed to making sure the Pennsylvania area referred to as having unsafe drinking water is taken care of, so clean water is available.
Cabot’s statement comes on the heels of a PaDEP news conference, where they announced its plans to go ahead with a new water line from a close neighborhood which will benefit up to 18 homes. The department estimates the cost of the new water line at almost $12 million.
Dan Dinges, Cabot’s CEO, commented on what could be a viable solution, saying: “Though methane was pre-existing in the area’s water prior to Cabot’s drilling, we, just like the PaDEP, want to help solve this problem. Our difference with the PaDEP is that the solution to methane in water has been venting water wells and putting them on water treatment devices, which cleans up the water quickly. We do not know why Secretary Hanger has changed his mind from endorsing separators to wanting this new pipeline that could take years and cost millions. As well, we have just drilled a new water well at one of the households that is making clean water, so we know that this is also a viable solution.”
Methane separation systems were deemed the appropriate solution, instead of the construction of a new water line. Cabot, still in total denial they were the cause of the problem, agreed to the PaDEP demands to plug certain wells and then carry out the methane separation process. The systems now sit idly in a Cabot equipment yard.
Dinges expanded on the consequences of not meeting PaDEP requirements, saying: “Additionally, it was clear at the time that if we did not agree to this solution, an enforcement action was to follow completely shutting down the Company’s Pennsylvania operations; therefore, we were forced to accept this demand.”
In the months following the separation, the PaDEP informed Cabot it needed more time to convince the litigants that the methane separation systems were the solution and made the request of Cabot to amend the order and remove the separator dialogue. Cabot, in good faith complied with the request. At the same time, Cabot was trusting of the fact that PaDEP believed that separators were in fact still the solution. In a blatantly dishonest announcement, the plaintiff’s attorney publicly stated the optimal solution to the problem was a plaintiff preferred new water line from Montrose. This announcement occurred in July, which led the PaDEP to announce in August that a new water line from Montrose is the solution, with no mention of the separators at all.
Dinges explained how they ultimately came to their position, saying: “The abrupt change in the PaDEP’s proposals – going from separators to building a multi-million dollar, multi-year pipeline project is an obvious attempt at placating the litigants and that is why we have taken our position.”
The primary issue here is the safe water allegation. So far, no one has made this assertion. Although methane migration has a long history of occurrence throughout the state of Pennsylvania, a simple solution has been implemented time after time. By utilizing the separation systems and renting water well spaces, the problem of methane migration can be avoided. The problem mostly only arises when methane escapes into a confined space. Even then, an easy solution, and one that is stated in a PaDEP publication, is to vent the water well to the atmosphere.
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