Cabot Cites Obama Speech to Fault EPA’s Dimock Fracking Probe

Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. fired off a complaint to the Environmental Protection Agency, saying a probe of water in Dimock, Pennsylvania, undermines President Barack Obama’s embrace of natural gas in his State of the Union speech.

“EPA’s actions in Dimock appear to undercut the president’s stated commitment to this important resource,” Chief Executive Officer Dan Dinges wrote today in a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. “EPA’s approach has caused confusion that undermines important policy goals of the United States to ensure safe, reliable, secure and clean energy sources from domestic natural gas.”

The EPA said Jan. 19 that it would deliver water to four families in Dimock, where residents say their water has been contaminated during hydraulic fracturing by Cabot. The EPA will also test water at 60 homes to assess whether any residents are being exposed to hazardous substances, the agency said.

Dinges, who also is Cabot’s chairman, said today that the company provided more than 10,000 pages of data to the EPA and there is “no credible evidence” that the water needs further analysis by the federal agency.

“It appears as though the EPA’s decision is politically motivated and not based on a legitimate desire to address environmental concerns,” the company said in a statement issued with Dinges’s letter.

Obama Backs Gas

For the first time in a State of the Union address, Obama on Jan. 24 offered detailed, broad praise for the development of natural gas, and directed his administration to ensure its continued production.

The EPA said in a statement today that its efforts in Dimock don’t run counter to Obama’s pledge.

“We have been clear that if we see an immediate threat to public health, we will not hesitate to take steps under the law to protect Americans whose health may be at risk,” the agency said in the statement. “EPA’s samples will be collected and reviewed using the highest scientific standards.”

“The residents in Dimock deserve answers based on the facts,” the EPA said.

The U.S. holds an estimated 2,214 trillion cubic feet of gas, enough to meet domestic demand for more than a century at current consumption rates, according to the Energy Department. Fracking accounts for a third of the U.S. gas production, up from 14 percent in 2009.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Drajem in Washington at mdrajem@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net

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