CBS News botched its Saturday January 28th story on Dimock and hydraulic fracturing (http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7396742n&tag=cbsnewsMainColumnArea). Most unfortunately the story got critical facts totally wrong; more than a couple million people saw it; and I was in it!
On Friday January 20th, CBS News asked to do an interview with me about Dimock. I traveled to the CBS Harrisburg affiliate and answered from 7:30pm to 8:15pm on camera via satellite numerous questions from a CBS News producer in New York about Dimock.
We spoke about what happened in Dimock and, just as importantly, what did not happen there. Simply put, I said that gas had migrated from poor drilling to 18 water wells, but no fluids from hydraulic fracturing had returned from depth.
I walked CBS News through the testing and investigation done to conclude that gas had migrated to 18 wells, but fracking fluids had not. I stressed that Duke University's testing of the same wells also had found no fracking fluids but high methane levels.
I noted that, since the driller (Cabot) had not done pre-drill water tests in 2008, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's investigation of the water well contamination was more difficult. I explained the various tests and steps completed that supported a finding that gas had migrated but that frack fluids had not returned from depth to contaminate water wells. I told CBS about the recent Lenox Township case involving Cabot where a pre-drilling water test had been done. In that case, there was very low methane levels prior to drilling and very high levels after drilling.
I hit hard that the problem was gas migrating and not frack fluids returning from depth. After seeing the CBS story, I might as well as have spat in a hurricane.
The CBS story starts with the exploding water tap scene from Gasland and flatly says that the Dimock wells were contaminated by fracking fluids and that the EPA has concluded so. It includes a diagram to show fracking and fluids entering the aquifer.
What about the 45 minute interview that I gave? CBS takes less than 5 seconds from it and has me saying only that "Poor drilling contaminated 18 wells."
The piece contains nothing from me saying that the problem was gas migrating and not frack fluids. Nothing from me saying that the frack fluids had not returned from depth. Nothing from me saying that hydraulic fracuring had nothing to do with the problem. Nothing from me explaining the difference between the drilling and hydraulic fracturing phases of well development. Nothing from anyone that contradicted the narrative of the story that fracking had caused contamination with chemicals and fluids of the water wells.
Instead 5 seconds of my interview are edited brutally and misleadingly to build the narrative that fracking fluids contaminated water in Dimock. As I left the affiliate's station, the cameraman for the interview asked, how I thought the interview had gone? I replied that editing would provide the answer.
While Pennsylvania's reporters like Don Gililland, Andrew Maykuth, Laura Legere, and Don Hopey often write factually accurate stories, the CBS story is an example of the national reporting about natural gas that misinforms, misleads, and misguides the public.