14 Mar 2016
For years, anti-fracking activists built their arguments against hydraulic fracturing in large on alleged water contamination in Dimock, a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania. Last week brought the conclusion of a lawsuit filed by a few Dimock residents who claimed a nuisance from drilling, with a jury awarding $4.24 million to the residents.
But during the trial, fracktivists could only watch as the plaintiffs’ legal representation admitted over and over again that they “don’t have proof” of fracking contaminating groundwater.
As Leslie Lewis, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, said in her opening statement,
“This is not a case – this is not a case about toxic materials ending up in the water… We do not have proof of that. We don’t have proof of that. This is not about fracking fluid appearing in the water. Hydraulic fracturing materials, we don’t have proof of that.”
Never ones to acknowledge science and facts, anti-fracking groups still pointed to the ruling as supporting their belief that fracking harms groundwater. As Sandra Steingraber, an advisor for Americans Against Fracking, said about the court’s decision,
“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 what this court decision shows.” (emphasis added)
The most prominent scientist for the plaintiffs was Cornell Professor Anthony Ingraffea, who has done countless interviews with media outlets that cite him as an “expert” on fracking. But Ingraffea admitted in his testimony that he has no direct experience with fracking.
Q: How many oil or gas wells have you participated in the actual design, construction, drilling or completion?
Q: And, of course, we heard some reference to hydraulic fracturing. You’ve never participated in the hydraulic fraction of an oil or gas well, have you, sir?
Ingraffea: No, I have not.
Q: Have you ever observed hydraulic fraction of an oil or gas well?
Ingraffea: Not on a pad, no.
When a journalist attempted to interview Ingraffea after his testimony, he tried to hide.
Ingraffea’s bias against oil and natural gas is also well known. He is a board member of the anti-fracking environmental group Earthworks, a group that spent over $1,000,000 on its program against fossil fuels and fracking in 2014. He has also published discredited papers against fracking, and often gives speeches put on by groups looking to ban the process.
The ruling of the Dimock case has zero impact on the scientific consensus that fracking does not pose a credible risk to drinking water resources. If anything, the testimony exposes the lengths to which anti-fracking activists will deny facts in order to claim fracking contaminates groundwater.