Friday, May 17, 2013

Three Nights Living in a Gasfield

 The following story is from a resident living in the gas fields of Northeast Pennsylvania. I post it for all those NY landowners who want drilling, and say they recently drove down through Bradford or Susquehanna County and "it's so nice, you'd never know they'd drilled there..." So here, from one who knows, a sample of what living in gasland is all about:

The shutdown of the Williams Central Compressor yesterday left us with the same wonderful sounds we had taken for granted for years: the sound of chirping birds, dueling bullfrogs, the sound of a gentle breeze. We decided we should savor sitting on our front porch last night, which used to be a relaxing way to recharge on a lovely summer evening.....there was no constant traffic associated with the expansion project of the compressor about a mile up the road from our home.

We used to walk up to the Newton Hill Cemetery, a leisurely walk on our country road. Our road has turned into an industrial highway with as many as 2000 vehicles a day as documented by video. We wanted to retrace our memories and do those things we have not done in over a year since the compressor and well pad were installed off our road. We decided not to walk as there are so many transient workers in our area for the pipeline, compressor, well pad. So we drove, and parked along our neighbor’s cornfield, and sat in the field looking at the beautiful starry sky down the valley. The view from their tilled field has always been a favorite; you feel you are on top of the world looking out over the distant mountain ridges and down our valley.

We have permission from our neighbor to walk in their field; they also use a 30 acre field of ours for crops. The view has changed as there is a Cabot well pad waiting to be completed on the adjoining field belonging to a different neighbor. We sat in the field, enjoying the starry sky, savoring the respite from traffic and noise 24/7, savoring the sounds of a beautiful country evening. We saw a truck drive up to our parked car. It slowed down to pass it, to turn around and slowly go back down the hill. It was Cabot security. We decided we would leave, as we suddenly felt scared. We drove up Turnpike Rd past the Williams Central Station, and could hear it was back up and running to some degree. We turned right onto Puzo Rd, and suddenly there were two cars behind us following closely. We turned left onto Caitlin, then right onto 167 South. We wanted to see if they were in fact following us before we went home. They did follow, one pick up passed up and then stopped in front of us, blocking us by parking the truck over the double solid yellow lines on the road. My daughter was scared, I was mad, she was driving. I told her to go around these vigilantes, but she rolled her window down as a man came to her driver door. He accused us of trespassing and drinking. I told him he had no right to stop us in the middle of a road, that he was a thug and that we were not trespassing. He insisted we were on Cabot property, and I told him he was dead wrong, we were not on the well pad property; we were on our neighbor’s field with permission. He said he had called the police as we were trespassing and drinking, neither of which we were doing. I was irate and he refused to tell me his name, and said only that he was local. He had tattoos all over his arms and some scruffy facial hair. He was a slim build. He got back in his car and we were escorted back to our home with one thug behind us and one thug in front of us. I was furious, alarmed and shocked, but we did go home. We sat on our porch, feeling unsettled, angry, saddened, confused as to how drastically living on our hill has changed as so many transient employees subcontracted by industry now travel our road.

Three nights ago we stopped to find help to get two of our neighbors cows back into a field they had escaped, two nights ago there was the fire at the Williams Central Compressor, and last night we were followed and stopped on the road by two security vigilantes: subcontracted by Cabot to guard their well pad about 1500 feet from our home. Half an hour passed, two white pickups went back and forth in front of our house. About 5 minutes later a PA State Trooper car pulled up, and turned into my driveway. He bottomed out as the road is now too high for the driveway since industry built it up to accommodate their heavy traffic. Trooper Bowman said Cabot Security had called them to come make sure we were "OK". I was furious, and recounted our evening sitting in our neighbor’s field, how the two thugs followed us and stopped us by blocking us on a state road, Route 167. The Trooper listened politely, and said he would go get the other half of the story. I was in disbelief at having a Cabot Rent a Cop call the cops to come to my home after their outrageous behavior. I want a copy of the Trooper's report.

This morning I spoke with a Sargent from the Gibson State Police Barracks. He did indicate the roadblock was not appropriate and he would follow up with Cabot. He also indicated the level of suspicion is high as the cause of the Williams Central Compressor fire is still under investigation and is undetermined at this time.


  1. it's frustrating and sad when all aspects of our lives are changed by the corporate takeover of our counties . And it's not an improvement.

  2. I'm saddened by what this one family has lost, which is considerable, and disgusted by what we all have lost in terms of civil liberties and equal protection under the law. Oil & Gas companies, and their hired thugs need to know this is not legal behavior, not in a "civil society."

  3. Heartbreaking, it’s surreal that you cannot walk in your own neighborhood without being treated as a criminal, while the real thugs get away with murder.

  4. It is a terrible feeling when a once pastoral, friendly place (I am thinking of the area I visit in French Azilum in Bradford County), where everyone knew each other and where you didn't have to be afraid of anything, now becomes a place where security trailers dot the landscape and men and women in uniforms come out to ask you what you are doing stopping on the road. If you have a camera, you are really treated badly. The road which was once a beautiful place to stroll at sunset or early morning is filled with huge trucks and fumes. The mist that was once a welcome, calming sight now becomes something to fear- what is in it? What am I breathing? Will it make me sick?
    It feels like a robbery, an occupation. Our retreat, our Eden, has been taken over against our will. We have to bring in water to use. Our environment has become hostile. You get the feeling that just being there is dangerous now. It didn't used to be that way. There was a time when going there in the summer was a highlight of the year. It was a place of spiritual renewal, of re-connecting with roots. This is gone forever now.

    1. I no longer walk the road in front of my home, nor the forests that surround us. They are all occupied by the exploiters of our land and the doomed search for non sustainable energy sources.

  5. Too bad you did not have a cell phone capable of recording this contact with these individuals. They have no authority to stop anyone. This is illegal detainment and arrest of your civil liberty. In such a case proof if had could of brought one hell of a lawsuit to Cabot Energy and their so called security provider. SInce they had no clear marking of authority on their cars maybe a gun and a shot person trying to illegally stop a private citizen on a public roadway might of worked also. After all you had no idea who these hoodlems were.

  6. NO WAY! Are we going to allow this in New York! We love our quiet country roads, and our clean land, air, and water. They are not coming here. Thank you for this article. I feel so sorry for you, you've lost something so dear, the heartless natural gas industry is criminal. We need to get off of fossil fuels, and stop allowing this stuff to be exported at our expense. Shame on our government for not protecting us from this.