Elementary school pupils, apparently ignoring a message delivered by the Dimock Town Board, held a water drive for residents at the center of the nation’s hydraulic fracturing controversy last week.
Deliveries from Shohola Elementary School are expected to arrive on Carter Road this week after “little hands on a big mission,” as PaHome Page reporter Eric Deabill characterized them, staged plastic water jugs on school tables in a class room adorned with bright blue water drops cut out from construction paper. The water represents sympathy of people in Pike County to the plight of residents living in the Carter Road area of Dimock in Susquehanna County, where an analysis by the EPA has raised health concerns about the water. Officials have indentified nearby drilling operations by Cabot Oil & Gas as a suspect cause of arsenic, barium and other hazardous substances in wells that supply four homes. The federal agency determined the chemicals pose a chronic health risk and began investigating 60 others water supplies. In December, 2010, more than a year before the EPA finding, 15 families filed a suit against Cabot for damages related to pollution. Cabot denies that its operations have affected water supplies.
|A contractor for EPA delivers water to a Carter Rd. home|
Photo by JAMES PITARRESSI
Dimock has become the archetype of the jurisdictional conflicts among local, state and federal government, and grass roots battles dividing communities in New York and Pennsylvania, and the water relief effort by Shohola Elementary School students is just one of many story lines. City governments throughout New York and Pennsylvania, including Binghamton, Syracuse, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia, have passed ordinance to limit or ban hydraulic fracturing. Local ordinances to regulate the industry, known as “home rule,” are being challenged by drilling proponents, who claims only the state has regulatory jurisdiction. Private trade groups are also taking sides. While Enough Already represents businesses in Susquehanna County that support the industry, a group of New York restaurateurs, called Chef’s for Marcellus, say waste from hydraulic fracturing threatens produce from suppliers of ingredients for New York’s culinary industry.
As more and more people living over the Marcellus and Utica shales realize they have a direct stake in their development, these kinds of battles will to continue to spread across more fronts.