EPA vs. DEP on Dimock, PA: Science… Law… and Female Intuition

Dimock, PA. Just upstream from you. (Image: Google Maps 2012)

By now it is common knowledge that the DEP has determined Cabot Oil & Gas does not have to deliver water to Dimock residents anymore. The DEP actually dropped the requirement for Cabot to restore the residents’ water supplies (which is required by state law). The DEP has also threatened to arrest and prosecute the very people whose water it had earlier determined to be affected by Cabot’s oil and gas drilling. This, after it had previously determined the pollution to be so bad that it actually ordered Cabot to build a water pipeline to Dimock.

That’s all common knowledge.

In the midst of this anti-property rights attack by the state against the citizens of Dimock, pleas have been issued to the federal EPA. Lisa Jackson, who leads the agency, has been directly asked to step in and stand up for the rights of the people against whom Industry-backed Governor Corbett has sanctioned the assault. (Notably, his Lt. Governor flat-out told the industry “to fight back” against citizens who have concerns about environmental and property because of unconventional oil and gas drilling.)

Last week, on January 13th (a Friday), the federal EPA told Dimock residents that they would be receiving a water delivery, thanks to the federal government’s intervention, on the very next day. However, the very next day, Lisa Jackson’s EPA reneged.

Now, one week later, the federal EPA is switching course again— and, today, as reported by ABC News, they are finally stepping in to deliver water to four homes with contaminated water wells that require emergency action because of how badly contaminated they are. Arsenic, barium, and other contaminates used in gas drilling were found by the EPA  to be in such high levels that action was required. (Video of water delivery.)

In the week after her initial reneging on the water delivery, Lisa Jackson had received a letter from Gov. Corbett’s DEP Secretary, Michael Krancer, which “puzzled” her. In the letter, Krancer called Jackson’s agency’s understanding of Dimock “rudimentary.”

[Aside: FYI, “primitive” is actually neither the first nor the second definition for “rudimentary.” The two primary definitions of the word come from the word “rudiment” or “first principles”– in other words, “the basic things.” That is how humans end-up using the word rudimentary as a slant. However, the meaning “first principles” might be quite accurate when applied to a woman such as Jackson, who, according to the description that we find of her on her facebook page, has her head screwed-on straight and pays attention to the basic things in life like clean air and clean water. In a way, I wish Krancer were more concerned with first principles.]

Despite Krancer’s lackluster insult, Lisa Jackson said that if Krancer could assure her that he was looking at the data “then I would be fine.” [Another aside: Jackson had not yet seen the Associated Press’s release that highlighted in detail how Krancer’s DEP already has completely lost track of the existence of over 500 wells in the Commonwealth. We’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and hope that next time around she would simply never vow to trust the state government’s record “keeping” skills. Lost data is a phenomenon so common that it’s not phenomenal at all.]

What I am really curious about is whether or not Jackson even realizes that some of the “gaps” in the data can never be filled in… And does she know that the state DEP is now calling Dimock residents asking if the DEP can come take water samples? This, after having ignored these same people for well over a year and after having threatened to have them arrested for calling and asking to have their water tested…

Does Lisa Jackson realize that the only hope for Pennsylvania rests on her ability to see through the fractured facade of the Pennsylvania government?

At this point, a little female intuition just may be what saves the humans of Pennsylvania… unless, that is, Jackson falls prey to the men calling for sheer abandonment of all emotion. It seems to me that they almost imply common sense should be abandoned to, as they always say “science” and “the law” will be the judge in the end.

So far neither science nor law has done anyone any good in Dimock. The PA DEP’s own science concluded that Cabot’s actions contaminated the Dimock wells, and the PA law states that the water must be restored to the same or better conditions as before drilling.

So, Jackson, please, include using “common sense” and “your gut” when it comes to dealing with Pennsylvania. Please. The science is already there, as is the law.

And, when you’re done, please see what you can do about cleaning out Harrisburg altogether. There’s got to be a law somewhere against a state government recklessly abandoning its own state and federal constitutional obligations to not violate its citizens’ environmental and property rights.

Fix that, and I’ll throw in that last hip-hip-hurray!

After all… it’s within your job description:

EPA’s purpose is to ensure that:

  • all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work;
  • national efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific information;
  • federal laws protecting human health and the environment are enforced fairly and effectively;
  • environmental protection is an integral consideration in U.S. policies concerning natural resources, human health, economic growth, energy, transportation, agriculture, industry, and international trade, and these factors are similarly considered in establishing environmental policy;
  • all parts of society — communities, individuals, businesses, and state, local and tribal governments — have access to accurate information sufficient to effectively participate in managing human health and environmental risks;
  • environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive; and
  • the United States plays a leadership role in working with other nations to protect the global environment.

(Note: In the video link above, the Cabot spokesperson says that the EPA had not reviewed any new data. The fact that the data-as-it-currently-stands caused such an immediate alarm within the EPA speaks volumes. I’m not sure why Cabot would point this out!)

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About adamaecompton

just a three-legged rescue dog, bloggin about critical citizenship, the environment, and all sorts of literacy.
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7 Responses to EPA vs. DEP on Dimock, PA: Science… Law… and Female Intuition

  1. Gabe says:

    As always, well done Ada!

  2. Patty MacDonald says:

    Excellent. But I wish you had also worked in the fact that many would like to dismantle or weaken the EPA. God help us if that is allowed to happen!!!

    Patty in PA

  3. Judy M. says:

    Loved this one!!!

  4. I thought this your best yet. Thank you.

  5. Julie Sautner- Dimock says:

    Thank you!

  6. Laurie says:

    Very informative. I especially liked the list of the EPAs purpose. That is good to know!

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