Personal Narrative: Dale & Colleen Tiberie
In 1995, Dale and Colleen Tiberie moved to Scenery Hill in West Pike Run Township, Washington County. There, the Tiberies created their own haven, complete with four sprawling acres and a beautiful two-story frame house.
What was once a quiet, peaceful part of the township has now become, in Dale’s words, a “living hell.” In 2015, shale gas development began in Dale’s backyard, and when the company asked Dale and his wife to waive the 500 feet minimum setback distance, they refused. Now, the well pad sits almost exactly 500 feet from the Tiberie property.
In addition to the well pad, high pressure gas lines were placed parallel, behind, and in front of Dale’s property, surrounding him and his family. Heavy traffic and trucks parking and idling at the well pad have also added to Dale’s plight.
Because the well pad is so close to the Tiberie’s house, Dale and Colleen live in constant fear of an explosion, spill, or other unforeseen event. Dale says the smell of raw gas that permeates his yard is also a cause for concern, as he doesn’t know what hazardous emissions he and his family might be breathing in.
In 2018, the odor in Dale’s yard was so bad that his knees buckled and he became nauseous and lightheaded. Dale has also noticed that his sinus problems have grown worse, and when working in his yard for a few hours or spending time outside, he’ll wake up the next morning with a headache.
Dale keeps a close eye on the gas well pad in his backyard, and he’s noticed problem after problem. Out of the five well heads that are built on the pad, leaks have been found in three different areas. On four different occasions, the storage tank on the pad has leaked, as well. Two more well heads have just been permitted, and Dale wonders how this can happen when there are existing problems that haven’t been addressed.
Dale worked in the coal industry for over 40 years and knows how highly regulated that business was. He wonders why it isn’t the same for the oil and gas industry — “Where have all the inspectors gone? Why are we not regulating this enormous industry and stopping the release of the emissions?” After breathing in coal dust for 41 years, Dale doesn’t want to have to worry about what he’s breathing in during retirement, too.
Dale keeps meticulous track of all things related to the oil and gas development by his house, and he has been a constant presence at township meetings, hearings, and meetings with regulators and gas companies. His advocacy has paid off — West Pike Run Township amended two township ordinances in which sound from development cannot be too loud and drilling cannot occur any closer than 1,000 feet from an occupied building.
Dale’s not satisfied with just amending current ordinances, however. He also wants to add air, water, and soil testing before, during, and after development. Dale is planning on running for township supervisor in the hopes that new regulations might spare others in the area.
Dale wants to enjoy the life he’s worked for: sitting in the yard, cooking out, gardening, watching wildlife. With shale gas development so close to his home, however, his “simple, quiet life in the country” has been ruined. He urges oil and gas companies to think about who they’re affecting: “No one should have to breathe these emissions.”