Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Jury Awards Two Dimock Couples $4.2 Million After Finding Cabot Oil & Gas Negligent in Fracking Contamination Case

Energy

A federal jury awarded two Dimock Township couples $4.24 million today after finding Cabot Oil & Gas responsible for contaminating their well water.


A state investigation found that Cabot Oil & Gas had allowed gas to escape into the region's groundwater supplies, contaminating at least 18 residential water wells.

The federal lawsuit—Scott Ely, et al. v Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation et al.—involved, Scott Ely and Monica Marta-Ely, and Ray and Victoria Hubert, who claimed that Cabot Oil & Gas Corp contaminated their water supply during fracking operations near their homes.

The decision, following the 14-day trial and 8.5 hours of deliberation over two days, is a huge victory for the families.

"Congratulations to the Ely and Hubert families for winning in federal court today against Cabot Oil & Gas for poisoning their water from drilling and fracking operations," Mark Ruffalo, on behalf of Americans Against Fracking, said.

"Drilling and fracking are contaminating water throughout Pennsylvania and across the United States and it's now time for Governor Wolf to recognize the damage that is being inflicted on Pennsylvanians' water and health. It is also time for President Obama to let the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency do its job and investigate thousands of complaints across the country of drilling and fracking polluting drinking water supplies and harming the American people. This jury trial reflects that drilling and fracking caused groundwater contamination, and this is only the beginning."

The Dimock case dates back to 2009 when 44 plaintiffs brought a lawsuit against the company. In the five years since initiating litigation, the Elys and Huberts were the only plaintiffs remaining on the case as the vast majority had settled with the company.

The Ely's were awarded $2.6 million and their three children $50,000 each. The Huberts were awarded $1.4 million, with another family member awarded $50,000.

"$4.2 million will not bring back drinkable well water to the long-suffering families of Dimock, Pennsylvania," Sandra Steingraber, PhD, science advisor for Americans Against Fracking, told EcoWatch.

"No amount of money can do that. Once groundwater is polluted, it's polluted forevermore. But what this important jury decision does do is strip away the mirage of omnipotence that Cabot and other gas companies operate behind. Fracking poisons water. That's what the science shows. The frackers will be held responsible. That's what this court decision shows."

A NPR StateImpact report, prior to the trial, said that Cabot Oil & Gas had already accumulated more than 130 drilling violations at its Dimock wells, yet insisted that methane migration in Dimock's water is naturally occurring. The company is currently banned from drilling in a 9-mile area of Dimock but is trying to lift the ban.

A state investigation, according to the AP, found that Cabot had allowed gas to escape into the region's groundwater supplies, contaminating at least 18 residential water wells.

Cabot had no immediate comment Thursday but planned to release a statement on the verdict, the AP reported.

"It's very important that when a company like Cabot harms Pennsylvania families ... that the courts are a sanctuary for people to seek justice," the families' attorney, Leslie Lewis, said in closing arguments Wednesday, according to The Times-Tribune of Scranton.

Watch this personal reaction to today's jury verdict from Josh Fox:

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pexels

By Zak Smith

It is pretty amazing that in this moment when the COVID-19 outbreak has much of the country holed up in their homes binging Netflix, the most watched show in America over the last few weeks has been focused on wildlife trade — which scientists believe is the source of the COVID-19 pandemic. Make no mistake: Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is about wildlife trade and other aspects of wildlife exploitation, just as surely as the appearance of Ebola, SARS, MERS, avian flu and probably COVID-19 in humans is a result of wildlife exploitation. As a conservationist, this is one of the things I've been thinking about while watching Tiger King. Here are five more:

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Hector Chapa

With the coronavirus pandemic quickly spreading, U.S. health officials have changed their advice on face masks and now recommend people wear cloth masks in public areas where social distancing can be difficult, such as grocery stores.

But can these masks be effective?

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Jörg Carstensen / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Carey Gillam

Bayer AG is reneging on negotiated settlements with several U.S. law firms representing thousands of plaintiffs who claim exposure to Monsanto's Roundup herbicides caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, sources involved in the litigation said on Friday.

Read More Show Less
Tom Werner / DigitalVision / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

With many schools now closed due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, you may be looking for activities to keep your children active, engaged, and entertained.

Although numerous activities can keep kids busy, cooking is one of the best choices, as it's both fun and educational.

Read More Show Less
In Germany's Hunsrück village of Schorbach, numerous photovoltaic systems are installed on house roofs, on Sept. 19, 2019. Thomas Frey / Picture Alliance via Getty Images

Germany's target for renewable energy sources to deliver 65% of its consumed electricity by 2030 seemed on track Wednesday, with 52% of electricity coming from renewables in 2020's first quarter. Renewable energy advocates, however, warned the trend is imperiled by slowdowns in building new wind and solar plants.

Read More Show Less