Pa. Gas Driller Court Date in Dimock Contamination Case
A plea hearing has been scheduled for this week in the criminal case of a natural gas driller facing felony charges in Pennsylvania over allegations it polluted a small Susquehanna County community's drinking water.
Representatives of Houston-based Coterra Energy Inc., according to the Associated Press, will appear in Susquehanna County Court on Tuesday, November 29. The AP attributes the information concerning the reported scheduled appearance to online court records.
Coterra’s corporate predecessor, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., was charged with felony counts alleging the drilling of faulty gas wells that leaked flammable methane into residential water supplies in Dimock and surrounding communities.
While the community in Northeast Pennsylvania became famous for its flaming tap water, Cabot, and even many local residents, have maintained there has always been gas naturally occurring in the water and demonstrations of lighting the stream from the tap on fire had been a practice for many years.
Environmentalists contend that any naturally-occurring methane in groundwater and wells has been exacerbated by high-volume horizontal fracture drilling in the region that has been pumping high-pressure liquids into the shale layer to break apart the rock and free natural gas deposits.
The issue is not just with methane gas as some resident have also claimed contamination of their water with drilling chemicals that first were reported in 2009 and resulted in Pennsylvania officials prohibiting Cabot from drilling or finishing wells that had been started in and near Dimock.
Cabot had sunk 62 fracking operations in the Marcellus shale formation in a nine-square-mile area in Susquehanna County since the company began offering mineral rights to residents at about $25 an acre in 2006, according to a publication by The Berkley Water Filter company. That report goes on to say other nearby towns were getting mineral rights offers of $4,000 to $5,000 an acre following the initial deals offered to Dimock residents.
Last week, Dimock residents met with the water utility, Pennsylvania American Water to talk about a plan to drill two water wells and build a treatment plant that will remove any contaminants from the water before piping it to about 20 homes.