Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

Cabot continues legal fight against fracking activist

Activist Vera Scroggins speaks with reporters after an October 2014 court hearing.

Marie Cusick/ StateImpact Pennsylvania

Activist Vera Scroggins speaks with reporters after an October 2014 court hearing in Montrose.

Houston, Texas-based Cabot Oil & Gas is headed back to court again next week in an ongoing legal battle with an anti-fracking activist.

The year-and-a-half long feud between Cabot and 64-year-old Vera Scroggins appeared to be over last fall, when Susquehanna County judge Kenneth Seamans ruled she would be permanently barred from Cabot sites and must observe buffer zones ranging from 25 to 100 feet.

But Cabot is continuing to challenge her movements and wants her to be punished for allegedly coming too close to a wellpad access road last month. The two sides will meet again in a Susquehanna County courtroom on February 25th.

The legal battle made international news last year when Cabot got a sweeping court injunction against Scroggins– effectively barring her from half the county. Last March, the order was revised to be much less restrictive.

She could face fines or jail time, although her attorney Jerry Kinchy doubts she would be imprisoned.

“If there’s any merit to what they claim, the judge would hold her in contempt of court,” he says. “That could involve reimbursing them for their legal fees. In this case it would be substantial, because they fly their legal team on a private jet out of Pittsburgh.”

Scroggins is a vocal anti-fracking activist who frequently hosts unofficial tours of Susquehanna County and brings visitors to Cabot sites. The company says she has repeatedly trespassed and poses a safety risk.

Scroggins feels she’s being treated like a criminal, for allegedly coming too close to driveways.

“It must be hard work for them, because they have a whole team of lawyers getting paid big bucks, and this is as far as they’ve gotten,” she says. “How desperate can you get to go after a senior citizen?”

“We’re just trying to continue to enforce those rules– that she need not put herself or others in harm’s way,” says Cabot spokesman George Stark.

In a separate matter, the court will also consider whether Scroggins must adhere to the permanent settlement agreement, which restricts her movements near Cabot sites. Although she initially agreed to the deal, she later changed her mind and refused to sign the settlement documents.

Last fall, Cabot argued her signature was unnecessary and said the agreement should stand. In a November 6th ruling, Judge Seamans sided with the company and found that Scroggins had, in fact, agreed to the deal through her attorneys.

Kinchy argued that she had not had the opportunity to present her side. The judge later agreed and will hear her testimony at the upcoming hearing.

Comments

  • SJDinAudubon

    And in other News, Cabot once again shows why Vera is completely Justified in her actions:

    http://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2015/02/13/cabot-to-pay-50000-for-violating-water-regulations/

    • MrPittsburgh

      Almost as ridiculous as Range Resources being nominated for an environmental stewardship award for 2014 where they finally acknowledged all of their impoundments leaked and were fined $4 million by the Pa. DEP.

  • Frackit

    Cabot deserves to imprison her and charge her for ALL their legal fees !

    • Melissa Troutman

      Who should be “imprisoned and charged for legal fees” when a company fails to replace a contaminated water supply and the state fails to enforce? The DEP? The industry? I hope there’s no double-standard here, Frackit.

      PA citizens have had to lawyer up and sue companies after the state failed to act. Some people have won based on science the state wouldn’t demand. They didn’t get all their costs covered though, because they had to move their families to a safer place. They were made to sign gag orders to keep their stories out of the media. Do you think that’s fair?

      And no, I’m not referring to Dimock.

  • JimBarth

    The behavior of Cabot is sickening. As a company, it deserves any negative development that might fall its way, including a meteor landing on its corporate headquarters. Why are these alien beings allowed to do business in PA?.

    • tke265

      She belongs in prison away from children

      • http://www.youtube.com/user/veraduerga Vera Scroggins

        I know this is Vic Furman speaking under another one of his aliases; Vic follows me around and attends all my court cases and hopes the worst for me
        and he wants gas drilling badly in NY where he is from and is especially upset that I and others have exposed the downside of the Gas Industry in our counties
        and show the harmed residents and now NY is closed to Fracking ;

    • tim kay

      Cabot is sticking up for the landowners !!!! lets think about it, as a homeowner, having busloads of strangers intruding on your privacy !! When they are asked to leave they don’t ! Vera has no respect for the people of this community

      • Melissa Troutman

        I just thought of a joke: “What’s the difference between buses of strangers & 100′s of trucks of out-of-staters?”

        Wait…that’s not a joke. That’s just a question…

        Sorry it just sounded funny in my head.

        • tke265

          So you hear voices as well

      • http://www.youtube.com/user/veraduerga Vera Scroggins

        Our Tours do not go where landowners don’t want us; this is an incorrect rumor spread as well as other incorrect/false rumors;
        We stay on the public roads and go on properties where we are invited.. I also visit all the other gas companies and they have not
        filed any charges on me; or injunctions; Cabot just does not want any negative publicity or exposure of the water contamination and
        exposure of the water buffaloes, water deliveries and treatment systems Cabot is maintaining in our county …..we have had a total of seven gas
        companies operate in our county; now we are down because of the economic woes the gas industry is suffering…the main players left now are
        Cabot, Southwestern and Chief.

  • TinaMc.

    Are you kidding me??! When are people going to wake up and get outraged at what they are doing to our lives? They are threatened by being watched. Does that not scream volumes?

    • tke265

      Your ignorant… you do not risk peoples safety for the sake of propaganda

      • MrPittsburgh

        People’s lives have already being risked by this industry.

      • Melissa Troutman

        I’m confused…how do Cabot sites risk people’s safety? If there is a risk to life shouldn’t everyone be kept far away?

  • DrillHere

    If half of what this woman says is true …. why is she taking people there on bus tours without PPE? She is a total fraud.

    • TinaMc.

      Go. Away.

      • DrillHere

        Way to go Tina. That’s how to answer a question. Grow. Up.

        • TinaMc.

          You are a shill, I have no time for you. We have a planet here that we are trying to save.

          • DrillHere

            Yeah right. Keep using all that power Tina

          • ourland

            BaaaHAA thats good! How’s the fig leaf working out for ya in this sub zero climate?

          • tke265

            Actually the fig leaf died and produced methane, large quantities of leaves have methenated and keep her quite warm. Methenated… new word like Frack

    • Dean Marshall

      You are the Fraud DrillHere! Seen your fake foto and foolish frothings on all the Paid Gas Liar Pages!

      • DrillHere

        Been working rigs for over 30 years Dean. Live in NY. The company I work for is in NY. Work mostly Pa. And Ohio. But nice try on the fraud thing.

      • DrillHere

        And once again the question goes unanswered.

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/veraduerga Vera Scroggins

      first of all, I don’t take them to the sites; I show them the sites from the public roads; and they take photos and videos…so, we don’t need any PPE…Cabot has had security posted on their driveways for the past two to three years and we couldn’t get in if we tried…Cabot basically wants these Citizen Tours to stop ; there have been hundreds of them ; between myself and others in my county doing them; We’ve shown legislators, media, journalists, farmers, citizens what is happening in our neighborhoods , what is next to our homes, on school property and farms …..this is shocking to most and they go home and fight to not have it in their areas, counties and States and countries….and some ban it like in NY….lots of NYers came on our Citizen Gas Tours and learned the truth and saw the damages to our water and air and the industrialization…not something most want….for any price…

      • tke265

        You have zero credibility with educated people.

        • http://www.localharvest.org/farms/M18178 Maggie Henry

          You are the troll that needs to go away! You have no idea what it means to be a citizen!

          • OurRight

            interesting, tke265 knows Vera, so he speaks his mind based of his one on one experience. Maggie you make an assumption on a comment. A personal attack not unusual when someone has a loss for educated words. I’ll help here as it pertains to your comment ” You have no idea what it means to be a citizen!” TKE265 is a decorated Vietnam Vet. That has more understanding then most Americans about citizenship. I think you owe an apology, something a true citizen would do when confronted with facts. But then again maybe you fall into the same class as Vera who will not stand for a pledge to our flag, That is if we are judged by the company we keep.

          • http://www.youtube.com/user/veraduerga Vera Scroggins

            so, are you saying that Vic Furman is a decorated Vietnam Vet; can you supply proof of that; he’s never mentioned the “decorated” part that I’ve heard of
            and I don’t pledge the flag because I am anti-war and pro-peace and do not agree with the War Machine and US war policies and don’t agree with

            the Energy policy of our country and the Fracking they are allowing and other issues; There is no law that requires us to pledge and the pledge came
            into our country I believe in the 50′s…it’s not part of the Constitution or Bill of Rights…I am as much of a good citizen as you or Vic or Maggie…just because we disagree about policies and positions need not make us into bad citizens or to be accused of anything. “Our Right” are you willing to give your full name and real name ? Like your name may imply, We all have the Right to speak our views and believe what we believe and reveal harm where there is harm ; would you not reveal harm from any industry or company or individual in your community and help your neighbors? then please , do not deny my right to do this; Cabot is the one with almost 600 DEP Violations and millions in fines in our county …. we need to expose this and protect ourselves ….

      • MrPittsburgh

        Keep fighting the good fight Vera! Your tours opened eyes enough that NY banned fracking, which is what this industry fears most. Of course their knees are shaking and they are crying ‘poor mouth’ over a proposed severance tax in Pennsylvania.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1522786448 Scott Cannon

        You said it! They don’t want people to see it firsthand, because its alarming.

    • MrPittsburgh

      Do you wear PPE when you park your Harley on the shoulder of the road?

      • DrillHere

        No. But I also do not post videos of me walking around a well site without hard hat, safety glasses, FRC’S and steel toed shoes. That is the law my friend.

  • Dean Marshall

    To Frackit: Companies do not imprison citizens….not yet at least! Companies merely own the Political/Justice Systems that DO imprison people in violation of their Constitutional Rights to Freedom of Speech, Freedom of assembly and Pursuit of happiness. (All of the Rights Cabot wants to deprive citizens of when the expose the lies about those Companies Safety, Worker and Health Violations!)

    Activists have very little to gain by taking and publishing actual photos/videos of Cabots Cesspools. Cabot, on the other hand, stands to make Billions of Bux/yearly by Perpetuating the Lies in their TV ads and paying Gag order settlements when they destroy private water supplies in Veras neighborhood! Who should be in Prison??? George Stark and the Cabot C0-Conspirators and the Crooked Councilors that represent them and tie up our Courts with these spurious cases!

    • MrPittsburgh

      Her pictures and videos have opened eyes, around the world!

  • Meenal Raval

    Thanks for the update, Marie. Do let us know about the upcoming hearing, so we can fill the courtroom.

    • tke265

      I will be there as always and when she bites the bullet I will cheer

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/veraduerga Vera Scroggins

      Meenal, the upcoming hearing is on Wed. , Feb. 25, at 9 am. in Montrose, Pa. County Courthouse on Maple St….18801. Courthouse no. is 570 278 4600.

  • Tim Ruggiero

    If Cabot spent half as much money fixing their crap as they do on making sure an old lady stop taking videos of their screw ups……

    • tke265

      Your only half right…she is old

      • Tim Ruggiero

        What is Cabot so afraid of? If what they are doing is so ‘safe’ and ‘responsible’, I would think they would welcome the publicity. But no, they hide behind Paid Liars like Stark. You can’t seriously think they are fooling anyone with this ‘concern about her safety’ nonsense. They don’t care about anyone else’s safety.

        • MrPittsburgh

          Most roads in Pennsylvania have at least 50-foot right of ways making them wider than the paved surface, so chances are she is not “trespassing” to begin with.

        • tim kay

          It is not what cabot is afraid of, it is that this person is constantly trespassing, it may be land leased to cabot, but it is still private property and our community is tired of this woman and her bus tours invading our privacy and rights as home and landowners !!!

          • http://www.youtube.com/user/veraduerga Vera Scroggins

            this is also, false , Tim; I am not constantly trespassing and have not trespassed; If I have done this, then why have I not been charged
            in six years of documenting this development mostly from public roads and private property where I have permission to be; What town do you live in
            since you speak for your community. Have I personally violated your private landowner rights and privacy…I don’t know your name or recognize it.
            I have asked my attorney many times to have a public trial to defend my position and my assertion that I have not trespassed and want Cabot to show the proof in a court trial; I have yet to have this. there are a lot rumors and statements going around that are not true and need to be settled in a court of law; all who accuse me of anything need to file charges and bring it before a court and Judge…We all have a right to our opinion about an issue; My stand against gas drilling and fossil fuels is my right to hold that view and gather evidence to show the harm it is doing in my county and show the world; Most who see the evidence
            are shocked and astounded and can’t believe this is happening to Americans and take this evidence home to their areas and work for a ban or moratorium whether they are from the US or other Countries; I’ve toured hundreds of people and many from other countries, continents, like Europe, Asia,
            Africa, South America, Canada….etc…and of course, legislators, media, journalists, farmers , citizens from New York especially besides other States…and Pa…

  • Alexander Lotorto

    The contempt charge is being brought because Cabot didn’t like that the photographers she was touring in January took pictures from the road, completely outside of the area that she is restricted from. It was a completed well that sits idle in Dimock without any traffic to or from. Vera not only notified the photographers of exactly where to stand, but did not even approach the access road within 100 yards as she waited patiently in a car in a neighbor’s driveway. She has been more careful than ever, and as a result of this contempt charge, other volunteers have adopted her tour duties locally. We will be offering the tours, safe and non-disruptive, just like Vera did. Cabot trying to squelch a woman who has graciously assumed the role of a mother to me, has only brought negative press and more volunteers to Susquehanna County. George Stark can take his cheating ways back to Texas. Yes, George, we know with whom you spend your afternoons.

    • tke265

      Cabot wouldn’t be taking the liar to court unless they had camera’s and proof… yeah camera’s work both ways…..uh…ohhh

      • Hope Forpeace

        ^^^ Vic Furman, notorious mooner

    • OurRight

      Graciously and assumed the role of a mother for you. Now there is a concern.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Qv2IUc756A

      • MrPittsburgh

        Yeah, she sure blasted the little prickish irish elf. Go girl!

  • ourland

    “It must be hard work for them, because they have a whole team of lawyers getting paid big bucks”

    “If there’s any merit to what they claim, the judge would hold her in contempt of court,” he says. “That could involve reimbursing them for their legal fees. In this case it would be substantial, because they fly their legal team on a private jet out of Pittsburgh.”

    Hello mouth meet foot!
    No sweeter justice for this soul.

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/veraduerga Vera Scroggins

      this is Cabot’s third attempt at a supposed contempt charge and the other two, I got no fines, no court costs or jail and not found guilty of breaking my injunction;
      I have no intention of breaking my injunction; Cabot is listening to false reports and testimony from those who want me in trouble and Cabot will
      have to bring in the evidence to prove this; this will be their third try; I have my evidence and witnesses that I did not break this injunction..

  • ourland

    Wooow , Why all the hate? Cant we just get along? It’s a very simple solution to all of this fossil fuel madness. One thing is required to end it all. A true respectful stance by divesting yourselves of all fossil fuel and derivatives. No demand no need. Planet saved. But I can tell you are all frauds, otherwise you would not be using your computers utilizing the greedy corporate internet. You have no real commitment just a lost voice and a will to want to fit in your otherwise lonely world. I get it, I see you with your plastic no fracking signs that you tugged out of your fossil fueled vehicles with your poly mittens. Honestly how can anyone give you respect or take you serious if you do not practice what you preach?

    • Alexander Lotorto

      To believe Americans can’t innovate energy solutions to fossil fuels is like someone 100 years ago saying there would never be vaccines, or computers, or space crafts.

      • Ourland

        In full agreement. America has some of the greatest minds together with other great minds it can be accomplished. But until that happens fossil fuels are affordable and reliable. Those condemning fossil fuel are just as closed minded as those thinking there is no replacement. I welcome the day my lawnmower will hover by hooked into a SSC but until then I will be using ethanol free high octane fuel. Saving the earths feed stock for more true useful purpose. Doing my part and living the hypocritical vacuum.

        • DACrea

          It seems a lot of the “great minds” you are looking-to for hope do not understand thermodynamics and the laws of physics, nor economics. Mother Nature is a bitch and will not let you violate her laws.

      • hoax_buster

        100 years ago no one with any knowledge of science said there would never be vaccines, computers or space craft. You’ve created a straw-man argument to serve your purpose.

        What is obvious is your lack of knowledge about energy. There are — at this time — no alternatives to fossil fuels, except nuclear, which could easily replace coal for electricity generation.

        Energy is a subject that almost every engineering and science student is required to study. Its roots are in chemistry and physics. And everyone with some academic and professional knowledge understands that an energy supply that is equal to or better than fossil fuels is the game-changer of all time.

        If Exxon could make money selling solar panels, they’d become the world’s largest make of solar panels. But the severe limits — imposed by nature — of solar power are obvious to engineers.

    • MrPittsburgh

      Just another form of pitiful bullies.

  • hoax_buster

    If that soggy old bag Vera wants to direct people to various Cabot sites, she can draw a map and give copies to the people who want to see the places that intrigue her. She can provide a written description of what they’ll find and where they’ll find it.

    • Alexander Lotorto

      Cowards post anonymously.

      • hoax_buster

        Vera Scroggins is a soggy old bag with nothing of importance to say. Meanwhile, no one is stifling her right of free expression. In the case of Cabot, the company is merely keeping her away from company property.

        • MrPittsburgh

          How very wrong you are, if she had ‘nothing of importance’ why would Cabot be flying lawyers out of Pittsburgh at great expense?

      • MrPittsburgh

        Actually, most of them are industry shills.

    • MrPittsburgh

      It’s her county! Should we have bowed to English rule when they invaded?

      • hoax_buster

        There’s private property and public property. She’s been told by the court to keep her distance from certain private property. Nothing unfair about that.

  • DACrea

    This mentions her lawyer as “Kinchy”. Isn’t that the same lawyer from Sayre who is also representing the multiple-trespasser Jeremy Alderson at Crestwood in Watkins Glen, NY? If so he must be “into” these protesters.

  • Hope Forpeace

    Read down the page and see how fracking supporters do not want the actions of the their beloved fracking companies filmed or viewed. The ONLY reason CABOT does not want Vera near is she has often caught them and others in violations that she reports.

    Cabot trans their supporters in the most vile hatred against a person playing watchdog. Look out CABOT, that’s about to backfire on you.

  • mariecusick

    A reminder to our commenters: Please be civil and avoid personal attacks.
    Here is a link to our comment policy:
    http://stateimpact.npr.org/comments-policy/
    If you are a repeat offender, you may be blocked from commenting on our site.

  • Brett Jennings

    what cabot is afraid of is her calling DEP, or OSHA again. The question is how much has her complaints to regulatory agencies cost Cabot and it’s subcontractors in fines and activities to regain compliance. Then again is going after someone that reports violation of laws a crime, hum…

  • Julieann Wozniak

    Reminds me of the mine goons, back in my grandfather’s day, who tried to burn down the family home, with the family in it, to keep union organizers from congregating there. Corporate thugs and bully boys. I surprised they haven’t solicited help from Oath Keepers or the actual Klan. We should crowdfund Vera a camera drone, so she can keep track of Cabot from the air, which they can’t even pretend to own. From the way Cabot behaves, you’d think we live in a right-wing police state. Oh, wait…..

  • Hope Forpeace

    Wow – the level of hate drilled into fracking supporters is truly stunning.

    No doubt CABOT fears a woman with a camera.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/veraduerga Vera Scroggins

    very unkind words from you; do you know me personally and have you seen where and what I do ; you are spreading false information and slander about
    me ; can I have your real name; If I was committing any crimes during these six years I’ve been documenting the Gas Industry and the problems
    and now Cabot has almost 600 DEP Violations since 2008 in my county alone and millions in fines…who is the danger and problem here; If I
    disrupted any operations, which I have not, then the Industry and police would have long ago got me on charges and fined me, etc…

  • Frackit

    I would never answer any questions you have, mainly because I despise people like you and the others who are ‘enviro’-loudmouths who are attempting to destroy our need for fossil fuels. You are an ignorant bunch trying to convince citizens of your ridiculous claims of ‘global warming’ & ‘greenhouse gasses’ and plenty of other BS. This earth has changed many times since our sun was started, and will keep changing many times more.
    Since we need heat, power, vehicles, and many other modern items which fossil fuels are needed, we will always use them.
    I hope we can continue to keep you away from every gas site owned by companies and sensible landowners. Your reports and disruptions are not needed at all. People who support you are just as foolish as you.

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