PAUL M. SCHMIDT OBTAINS PERMANENT WATER REPLACEMENT FOR DIMOCK, PA RESIDENTS IMPACTED BY MARCELLUS GAS DRILLING
Paul M. Schmidt, Esq., Co-chair of Zarwin, Baum’s Environmental Law Practice Group, obtained a permanent drinking water connection for Dimock, PA residents whose private wells are impacted by Marcellus Gas drilling. After meetings with the residents and counsel, PA Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger made the surprise announcement, and promised that if the responsible company refuses to connect the residents, DEP will undertake the effort and sue the company to recover its costs. The meetings took place in the context of Schmidt’s appeal of the DEP’s earlier decision to allow the company to instead install individual treatment systems in each home, which Schmidt argued were insufficient, unreliable, and extremely burdensome.
The decision by the DEP clears the first major hurdle in a tough fight to protect and compensate residents whose wells have been impacted by gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale. A related lawsuit pending in federal court seeks damages on behalf of the Dimock residents. The DEP’s decision also could set precedent for groups of residents in other parts of Pennsylvania and neighboring states who claim impacts from Marcellus Gas drilling. The DEP decision marks the first time residents have convinced DEP that the situation was so bad it required costly permanent connection to an alternative water supply.