The bottle boasted water from “Endless Mountain,” a place far away from “the contaminants of air and surface pollution.” This should have made me feel good about drinking it except that it was given to me by a Dimock, PA resident whose tap water was contaminated after natural gas drilling came to town. For that, and the resulting weekly delivery of bottled water, she has Cabot Oil & Gas to thank. So as I stood outside her house last week, the small bottle in my hand seemed to be bursting with the stress and negative health effects that flow through this epicenter of drilling in the Northeast.
A trip to Dimock with Catskill Mountainkeeper and Delaware Riverkeeper was a fitting first day on the job as Marcellus Shale Gas Organizer for EARTHWORKS’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project. It made very real the true costs of drilling for this so-called “clean” energy source and the pressures placed on the local residents who pay them.
Over the last week, I’ve listened to the many online and in-person conversations about the rush to drill. There’s no doubt that the collective strength of dozens of citizen-led groups across the region is on the rise, and policymakers are slowly but surely being forced to listen. Whether it’s the momentum in New York to secure “regs before rigs” or the refusal of Pennsylvania residents to accept the raw deal they’ve being given in exchange for an economic band-aid, the voices of citizens and organizations are loud and clear.
As I get up to speed on the issues regionwide, it’s striking how day-to-day, every win such as the shutting down of Cabot activities and fines against the company until water contamination in Dimock is redressed comes alongside another need for action as the push into the Marcellus intensifies and widens.
EARTHWORKS and I are here to work with other groups across the region, support the groundswell of involvement, identify policy priorities, and help achieve lasting results.
There’s no greater motivation than the many people who love their land and believe that bountiful water, rich forests, rural landscapes, and the potential for a clean energy future matter far more than a quick buck. These are things that make our lives rich and real, keep us healthy, sustain our communities over time and which should never be bottled or sold.
To get in touch with me:
Marcellus Shale Gas Organizer