New Year’s Day in Dimock started with a bang in 2009 when a local residential water well exploded and residents learned that their water supply had become contaminated with dangerous levels of Methane gas.
On Tuesday, Attorney General and Governor-elect Josh Shapiro announced that Coterra Energy Inc., formerly known as Cabot Oil and Gas, has pleaded no contest to charges related to environmental crimes in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
“After more than decade of denials, of shirking responsibility and accountability, Coterra pleaded to their crime, and the people of Dimock finally had their day in court,” Shapiro said in a press statement.
Coterra entered a plea to Prohibition Against Discharge of Industrial Wastes, a violation of the Clean Streams Law. As part of the plea agreement, Coterra will pay $16.29 million toward a new regulated public water line as well as payment of 75 years of water bills for the impacted homeowners.
“Dimock residents have known for 14 years that Cabot Oil & Gas is guilty of contaminating our water. Finally, some justice,” said Ray Kemble, a Dimock resident whose water was contaminated. “This case proves once and for all that drilling and fracking contaminated our drinking water. Now we need immediate relief in the form of water deliveries.”
According to State Impact, Dimock, in northeastern Pennsylvania, represents “Ground Zero” in the battle over whether or not hydraulic fracturing is safe. The small town drew national notoriety after residents were filmed lighting their tap water on fire in the Emmy Award-winning 2010 documentary “Gasland.”
“This agreement brings justice to the residents of Dimock who for years had been ignored,” said Shapiro. “People across the country remember what happened here in Dimock, and now, they will know the rule of law won the day. Companies will take notice that we won’t allow communities like this to be taken advantage of or forgotten.”
The resolution of the Coterra Energy criminal complaint is a huge win for Pennsylvania residents and aligns with the State’s Constitution: “The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment.”