Controversy Surrounds One Citizen's ANTI-Drilling Billboard

On Thursday, August 4, 2011 0 comments

BRIDGEWATER TWP. - According to an article published on Citizens Voice, A public gathering near a billboard that depicts a pitcher of contaminated water became contentious Wednesday as pro- and anti-Marcellus Shale gas groups clashed.

Craig and Julie Sautner, of Carter Road in Dimock Township, have received threats since the sign was erected earlier this week, Sautner said. The pitcher of water depicted on the sign was drawn from the Sautners's well.

Small groups gathered near the sign Wednesday afternoon, at times turning contentious, with a member of the anti-gas group calling someone in the pro-gas group "greedy."

Sautner said his family has been living with a contaminated well for nearly three years.
"I think that's long enough to wait for clean water," Sautner said. "I've been living this life for three years. It's time to get it fixed."

The state Department of Environmental Protection has held Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. responsible for contaminating water wells in the area.

Sautner told those present the sign put the water issue "back on the front burner where it belongs."
Cabot spokesman George Stark disagreed.

"This billboard represents a falsehood," Stark said at the gathering. "Test results and science show that the water is clean and meets Safe Drinking Water standards.

"We continue to ask for others to prove the water is contaminated when we are able to prove otherwise," he added.

The company has tested the water of all of the plaintiffs embroiled in a lawsuit against Cabot, Stark said.

Sautner also spoke of a waterline former DEP Secretary John Hanger promised in late 2010 would be run from Montrose to the affected homes.

Cabot opposed the waterline proposal, as did Montrose Borough.

Bruce Ferguson of the Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy said the state backed away from the waterline when Cabot voiced opposition to the project.

"The gas companies are more powerful than the state government," Ferguson said.
"The waterline was yanked out from underneath us," Sautner said. "We deserve that waterline. It's time to step up."

DEP and Cabot reached a settlement and the state withdrew the waterline proposal in late 2010. In the settlement, Cabot agreed to pay affected homeowners double the fair market value of their homes and install methane separators.

Sautner said none of the affected homeowners in the lawsuit have taken the offer.
Others at the event expressed support for the Sautners and other affected Carter Road residents.
Craig Stevens, of Silver Lake Township, said the decisions made by some people based on money were negatively impacting others.

"Fix the water or go back home," Stevens said.

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