News > News > Safeguard Drinking Water > Fracking/Gas Drilling > Celebrities, Elected Officials Bring Disaster Relief to PA Fracking Victims; Call on EPA and Inspector General to Take Action

Celebrities, Elected Officials Bring Disaster Relief to PA Fracking Victims; Call on EPA and Inspector General to Take Action

For immediate release
December 6, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Tina Posterli, 516-526-9371, [email protected]

Mark Ruffalo, Josh Fox, Senators, City Council Members to Announce NYC Water Delivery to Affected PA Residents

City Hall, New York City—

A bipartisan group of elected officials from across New York State joined actor Mark Ruffalo, “Gasland” Director Josh Fox, and Pennsylvania fracking victims to announce the delivery of emergency water aid to families suffering from fracking-related water contamination in Dimock, PA. In what has become a pivotal showdown in the national controversy over the safety of fracking, a 5700-gallon water truck delivered clean water sourced from the New York City watershed to eleven affected households. Speakers from national and local environmental groups also called on Pennsylvania Inspector General Kenya Mann to investigate undue influence on Pennsylvania regulators, and appealed to U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to intervene in the case.

Clean water deliveries to the Dimock residents ceased on November 30th with approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, despite the DEP’s finding earlier this year that Cabot Oil and Gas, the drilling company operating in Dimock, was at fault for the contamination. Affected residents have complained of health problems after bathing in and drinking the water, which contains unsafe quantities of methane gas, heavy metals, radioactive material, and toxic chemicals such as ethylene glycol—otherwise known as antifreeze.

The Pennsylvania DEP had previously ordered Cabot to provide regular deliveries of replacement water to the affected residents, and planned the construction of a water pipeline from a nearby town, but later scrapped the pipeline plans during the transition to Governor Tom Corbett’s administration. Corbett received $1.6 million dollars in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, out of the $747 million dollars on campaign cash and lobbying expenditures spent by the oil and gas industry on Pennsylvania state and Congressional elected officials, according to Common Cause PA.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has been prohibited from regulating hydraulic fracturing operations because of loopholes and exemptions for the gas industry, but earlier this year EPA Administrator Jackson vowed before Congress that “EPA will step in to protect local residents if a driller jeopardizes clean water and the state government does not act.” In calling on the EPA to intervene, advocates cited a recent incident in which Dimock resident Craig Sautner was threatened with arrest by the DEP, simply for calling the agency to ask for help. In recent days Dimock residents have also accused local elected officials of collusion with industry, citing the rejection of a mutual aid agreement proposed by Binghamton, NY mayor Matt Ryan, who attempted to deliver clean water to the affected residents. Township supervisors of Dimock rejected the offer of assistance, after a meeting with Cabot officials and a pro-industry advocacy group, in an apparent violation of Pennsylvania ethics laws.

At the City Hall press conference, speakers vowed to continue water aid to Dimock and demand accountability from both Cabot and the DEP.

“This past summer I took a trip to Dimock, PA to see for my own eyes the effects that fracking has had on Pennsylvania property owners. I visited families who had their drinking water contaminated with the toxic concoction natural gas companies use and who saw the values of their homes drop by 90 percent. It is imperative that clean drinking water be brought to our neighbors in Dimock. Here in New York, I am working diligently to make sure proper regulations are put in place to prevent big gas companies from doing the same thing to our homes and landscape,” said New York State Senator Greg Ball (R-40).

“Water is a universal necessity and a right. It’s downright shameful that the state agency that is supposed to protect the health and well-being of citizens would instead protect the corporation that caused this devastation. Thankfully, citizens from across this region and the country are stepping forward to help the residents of Dimock in their time of need,” said Mark Ruffalo, actor and founder of

“What is happening in Dimock is a clear example of how natural gas companies will recklessly cut corners and risk the health of families and communities for the sake of profit,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “As Pennsylvania’s state leadership fails to hold Cabot Corp. accountable for poisoning Dimock’s drinking water, the Sierra Club will be there to help support the people of Dimock and expose corporate polluters like Cabot for putting profits before people,” said Sierra Club CEO Michael Brune.

“This is about standing up to the government when it abandons its people. It’s about defending the basic human right of access to clean water. These are American citizens that are so desperate for clean water that they’re pumping the water out of ponds and mixing it with bleach because they believe it’s safer than what’s coming out of their tap. We cannot allow this to happen here — America is supposed to do better,” said Kate Sinding, Senior Attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“We need EPA to hold Cabot Oil and Gas accountable and continue the water delivery to Dimock. And we need EPA to join us in asking that Tom Corbett and PA DEP be investigated by the PA Inspector General for corruption and violation of the state constitution,” said Gasland Director Josh Fox in a letter to U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

“Pennsylvania clearly has failed its citizens, and put the profits of a powerful industry before the health and safety of ordinary people. Carter Road in Dimock should be considered a disaster area, and residents impacted by fracking should receive immediate assistance. Instead, the Pennsylvania DEP has threatened residents with arrest simply for seeking aid. The case for EPA intervention in Pennsylvania is indisputable and urgent, as is the need for an investigation by the PA Inspector General,” said Claire Sandberg, Executive Director of Frack Action.

“This emergency is intolerable and must be permanently rectified by the State and Cabot; in the meantime, if the State won’t order clean water for Dimock residents, we will bring Delaware River drinking water as neighbors, knowing that anywhere gas drilling goes, this pollution can follow,” said Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper.

“Pennsylvania and Cabot say the toluene-laced water in these families’ wells is safe. This is a new low in the already shameful history of fracking. Riverkeeper today stands with the people of Dimock. They were the first to suffer the terrible consequences of fracking gone wrong, but if the drillers have their way, they won’t be the last,” said Paul Gallay, President of Hudson Riverkeeper.

“In a world where access to clean safe drinking water is causing a crisis in undeveloped countries we have the State of Pennsylvania and Cabot conspiring to bring that crisis to America,” said Wes Gillingham, Program Director of Catskill Mountainkeeper. “Cabot and PA DEP shirking their responsibility in this outrageous manor deserves a thorough criminal investigation.”

“Dimock, Pennsylvania has become ground zero for all that is wrong with hydraulic fracturing and an out of control political system dominated by corporate greed. As if it’s not bad enough that this toxic practice of gas drilling poisoned these families’ water, the government watchdogs in the PA DEP and in Governor Corbett’s office have turned a blind eye and allowed the polluting companies off the hook. Worse, they have abandoned the people they are sworn to protect. We are standing here in New York City today to make sure that Governor Cuomo doesn’t make this mistake, and take us down the same path. Our water is still safe, but for how long?” said David Braun, co-founder of United for Action.


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