“I Just Want Water”: Demonstrators Confront Rex Energy in Butler County
“The cruelty of [Rex Energy in] removing what little water the residents had left was just too much for her [Janet McIntyre]…” reported one participant in yesterday’s demonstration confronting Rex Energy in the western Pennsylvania town of Butler.
McIntyre, who spoke to the crowd of 75 demonstrators, has been living with contaminated water in her Conoquenessing Township home since January 2011. She witnessed workers pouring hundreds of gallons of her neighbor’s water onto the ground on Wednesday, under orders from Rex. Rex removed the McIntyre family’s replacement water tank in January 2012. Since then her family hoards bottled water and travels elsewhere to shower, an expense they can ill afford.
“I just want water,” Sheri Makepeace, also of Conoquenessing, says in this televised interview, explaining that she’d like to be able to cook buttered noodles for her three children. She’d like to be able to flush a toilet. The demonstrators gathered in Butler, PA yesterday because Rex Energy has made these simple acts, along with the act of drinking safe clean water, impossible by removing the large water tanks known in shale country as “water buffaloes.” On February 29th, Rex stopped all replacement water deliveries for eleven families whose water changed in color and quantity — in some cases, such as Makepeace’s, disappearing: her spring dried up — after Rex began drilling and fracking in the area. Two Rex gas drilling wells had casing failures in late 2010, a fact not mentioned in this otherwise excellent coverage by Don Hopey today on the front page of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Demonstrators gathered nearly 300 gallons of water for the impacted families and marched to Rex Energy’s Butler office on Thursday, March 1st. Here is an eyewitness account of the demonstration by farmer Stephen Cleghorn. More photos available from Cleghorn, of Paradise Gardens and Farm: Ph 814-568-1207 c 814-932-6761 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Butler, PA March Delivers Water to Woodlands Residents and a Message to Rex Energy
At least 75 people gathered in Butler, PA to bring water to the people of the Woodlands community located in Connoquenessing Township of Butler County. They also came to deliver a message to the headquarters of Rex Energy, a natural gas extraction company that has drilled multiple Marcellus Shale gas wells near the Woodlands community. Since the drilling began dozens of families have either lost their water or had it contaminated beyond use.
Close to 200 gallons of water filled the back of a pickup truck carrying a large wooden sign saying “Safe Water for the Woodlands.” The crowd marched slowly behind the truck to the offices of Rex Energy to demand that water deliveries to the Woodlands residents be continued. One day before the march Rex had stopped providing replacement water for the families.
Janet McIntyre, who has been dignified to the point of being stoic throughout her own ordeal, became tearful as she described her neighbors’ distress to the crowd. She recalled watching “a grown man cry” as his water was taken away. Rex Energy ordered the abundant clean water dumped from water buffaloes rather than allowing residents to use it up before removing the containers. “What’s the big deal?” McIntyre asked. “It’s just water.” The cruelty of removing what little water the residents had left was just too much for her as she gave over the microphone and walked away for a few moments to regain her composure.
After hearing from the Woodlands resident, the marchers stepped off down Chestnut Street and passed in front of the Rex
Energy offices. There was no one from Rex Energy to be seen. Several times motorists passing by honked their vehicle horns to express their support.
The gathering was organized by Marcellus Outreach Butler (MOB), a group active in educating the public about the risks of drilling for natural gas in tight shale formations such as the Marcellus. During the march organizing continued as people talked about ways to keep up the deliveries to the Woodlands residents in coming weeks while keeping the pressure on Rex Energy to restore the deliveries that allow families and their children to drink, cook, and bathe.
Protecting Our Waters is accepting donations for water for the impacted families and continues to urge EPA to provide emergency replacement water as well as definitive and stringent air and water testing. Please take action today.
High-definition photos also available from: Dana Dolney, Email: email@example.com