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“I Just Want Water”: Demonstrators Confront Rex Energy in Butler County

March 2, 2012

Janet McIntyre addresses crowd. She recounts watching "a grown man cry" as his water buffalo was taken away. Recalling how water buffaloes were dumped, she could barely speak for a few moments. Photo: Stephen Cleghorn

“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: jstephencleghorn@yahoo.com

Protest Signs Surround Rex Energy sign in Butler, PA March 1st. Photo: Stephen Cleghorn

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

Protester Dana Dolney holds a jug of residents' well water at the demonstration while Woodlands resident Kim McEvoy's daughter Skylar, age 3, looks on. Photo: Stephen Cleghorn

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: danaleighdolney@gmail.com

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33 Comments
  1. Michell'e permalink
    March 2, 2012 2:39 pm

    How long before all citizens of PA have to beg for clean water? This is a nightmare. Many people ignored the plight of the people from Dimock, PA thinking it was just a fluke. Wake up! This is happening all over our state and in other states too!

    • March 3, 2012 11:05 am

      we have homes all throughout our Susquehanna County with water problems and contamination after gas drilling nearby– they are not so publicized yet– but will be– we will have another Dimock shortly.

  2. Allen Howells permalink
    March 2, 2012 3:00 pm

    WHERE IS THE FUCKING EPA IN ALL OF THIS?!?!? HAVE THEY NO INTEREST, OR AUTHORITY ?!?!? HOW ABOUT THE PA FISH AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION?!?!? WHERE ARE THE FINES, JAIL TIME AND RESTITUTION IF YOU OR I WOULD DO THIS TO SOMEONE?!?!?

    • gsfgaerg argawrg permalink
      March 3, 2012 1:59 am

      its the epa & regulatory commissions that protect these companies.

    • isilwath permalink
      March 4, 2012 6:48 am

      The EPA can do nothing. Dick Cheney made sure the fracking industry is exempt from the Clean Water and Clean Drinking Water Acts. PA hasn’t updated their water laws in decades, and are way behind the curve for dealing with this. Our governor is bought and paid for by the oil and gas companies, as well as much of the legislature. We can expect much more of this very soon. The only thing slowing it down is the falling prices of natural gas has made some companies scale back their drilling plans. Hopefully, that will give people some time to form an effective opposition and kick some of these politicians who would trade our clean drinking water for money out of office.

  3. March 2, 2012 3:40 pm

    this is so painful to read– heart-wrenching– man’s inhumanity to man— our governments have failed us– Corporate greed exceeds all bounds….

  4. March 2, 2012 7:40 pm

    Iris, did you send this to the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Rachel Maddow, Steve Colbert, Jon Stewart, Mother Jones, Huffington Post, etc.??? please send all background info to these media outlets.

  5. March 2, 2012 9:28 pm

    No one should have to endure this! Where is the EPA? Where’s the “enforcement” secretary?? DEP can’t tamp down the facts any longer. Let’s ALL send info to the media outlets Aggie listed:

    urbina@nytimes.com
    sbauers@phillynews.com
    rachel@msnbc.com
    ksheppard@motherjones.com
    alison@healthjournalist.com (Huffington Post)

    And maybe, while we’re at it…
    Abrahm.Lustgarten@propublica.org
    tmcgrath@phillymag.com

    Keep shining the light!

  6. martha leslie permalink
    March 3, 2012 1:49 am

    Send to Josh Fox and Mark Ruffalo too.

  7. gsfgaerg argawrg permalink
    March 3, 2012 1:54 am

    VOTE RON PAUL to end regulatory protection for sadistic companies & restore property rights. these people have a case to sue.

  8. March 3, 2012 9:18 am

    The gas junkies have bought our government, fed & state. We are the caught in the ‘cost/ benefit’ financial theory EVERYTHING is now based on. The cost to ‘us’, loss of water, home, property value, health, and (coming soon) LIFE, does not measure up to the benefit to ‘them’ which did include all of humanity, but now only has one beneficiary- corporate profit. We are collateral damage. The worse is yet to come, biggest dog in this fight has not overtly entered the ring, Exxon. Do not look to anyone, or agency, or gubberment to save us, this is OUR fight. Consider all gloves are off.

  9. Patricia High permalink
    March 3, 2012 10:45 am

    It is clear that government agencies do not care what happens to “a few” in order to make big bucks for the priviliged. Stop the plans for fracking or prove to us it can be done safely.

  10. Carol Ward permalink
    March 3, 2012 10:59 am

    EVERY man, woman, and child will need to resist, speak out, and demonstrate
    against the domination of the natural gas corporation which ignores all health risks
    - this is the worst threat to human health this state and the whole country have ever faced.
    The Clean Air and Clean water acts need to be revived – these were drastically watered
    down in the previous administration.

  11. March 3, 2012 1:07 pm

    No one should have to endure this! Where is the EPA? Where’s the “enforcement” secretary?? DEP can’t tamp down the facts any longer. Let’s ALL send info to the media outlets Aggie listed:

    urbina@nytimes.com
    sbauers@phillynews.com
    rachel@msnbc.com
    ksheppard@motherjones.com
    alison@healthjournalist.com (Huffington Post)

    And maybe, while we’re at it…
    Abrahm.Lustgarten@propublica.org
    tmcgrath@phillymag.com

    Keep shining the light!

  12. Jerry Cook permalink
    March 3, 2012 1:12 pm

    I just got a visit from some jehovia wittnesses. They read me a quote from revelations. I hope their right cause it said God is going to get the people ruinning the earth. Keep the fight up. I’m mad as hell and my prayers are with you.

  13. Connee Robertson permalink
    March 3, 2012 10:45 pm

    I live in Cleburne County, Arkansas..They have been fracking all over this county for a few years now..our wells have either run dry or gone bad. Animals have gotten sick..I lost a horse when they began fracking on the property that I have them on. I forced them to fence off the water pit they put in..They are ruining what was once one of the prettiest areas of the Ozarks and they want to frack under our lake here..where we get all of our drinking water from..This is a nightmare. I was the only one who stood up against them when they came into our county. Now, everyone wants them gone. Nightmare!! We had the best drinking water in the whole country at one time..not now.

  14. March 4, 2012 8:52 am

    Susan Phillips at StateImpact is on the story.. “Butler County Residents Protest Loss of Water Deliveries”

    http://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2012/03/02/butler-county-residents-protest-loss-of-water-deliveries/#more-7504

Trackbacks

  1. Spread a Little Love: Philly’s Anti-Phracking Movement Is Building « Keep Tap Water Safe
  2. Water rally for Butler | THE LEAGUE OF ACTIVISTS
  3. Fracking: Health, Environmental Impact Greater Than Claimed | LA Progressive
  4. independentsforkerry.org » Blog Archive » FRACKING: Health, Environmental Impact Greater Than Claimed
  5. Fracking: Health, Environmental Impact Greater Than Claimed | Rock The Capital - A network of political stakeholders addressing local and regional elements of politics
  6. Fracking: Health, Environmental Impact Greater Than Claimed, Part 2 by Walter Brasch « Dandelion Salad
  7. Fracking: Health, environmental impact greater than claimed | Intrepid Report.com
  8. FRACKING: Health, Environmental Impact Greater Than Claimed « Green Business Review
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  12. Protesters Occupy PA Rep. Ellis’ Office, Take His Tap Water to Fracked Families « Protecting Our Waters
  13. Drill Baby Drill or more like Kill Baby Kill? Arlington health effects near urban drilling recapped | Arlington TX Barnett Shale Blogger
  14. List of the Harmed Updated – share your story ! | Arlington TX Barnett Shale Blogger
  15. “we’re all downstream” « ClimateHoward

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