In November, the PennVEST board, heavily pressured by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), approved an almost $12 million taxpayer-funded grant and loan to pay for a water line from Montrose to Dimock to serve households with methane contaminated water, allegedly caused by Cabot Oil and Gas.
As we reported previously, the DEP pushed for the pipeline despite heavy opposition from many residents in Dimock—who form a group called Enough Already—the Montrose Borough, and the local water company, all of which knew a better solution existed.
Today, Cabot announced a settlement had been reached with DEP to create a $4.1 million escrow account for the households with contaminated water. In addition, Cabot is offering to install free home water treatment systems for all families. Before the settlement, Cabot installed water treatment systems for families with contaminated water that weren't participating in a lawsuit. Now the company can offer the same treatment to these other families, in addition to giving them—via the escrow—double the value of their homes. As this experience demonstrates, gas companies will be held financially accountable for any damage they cause, and even that gas companies will work to maintain good relations with communities—even when disputing that they were at fault.
Following the settlement, DEP is dropping its pursuit of the "pipeline to nowhere," and taxpayers are now off the hook for the $12 million cost of that boondoggle.