Fracking Companies Buy Silence of Families with Contaminated Water
From the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachian range to the Texas panhandle, American families have found themselves with contaminated water supplies. Time and time again they have blamed the problem on hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) and won settlements from drilling companies—but only if the victims agree never to talk about the impact that fracking had on their lives.
Bloomberg News found cases across the U.S., from Wyoming to Pennsylvania to Texas, in which drillers have paid six-figure settlements or bought out properties to keep people quiet about their problems with contaminated water supplies.
Officially, the industry insists fracking has not resulted in harmful chemicals or other substances polluting underwater wells. However, state officials in Pennsylvania alone have linked gas and oil drilling to approximately 120 cases of water contamination from 2009 to 2012.
Companies have insisted homeowners sign non-disclosure agreements before receiving any money. Among the companies that have fought disclosure are Range Resources Corp. (RRC), Encana Corp. and Aruba Petroleum.
Buying people’s silence means the media and the government will have a difficult time determining the true impact of fracking on local communities.
“We are transforming our energy infrastructure in this country from burning coal for electricity to potentially burning a lot of natural gas,” Aaron Bernstein, associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard School of Public Health, told Bloomberg News. Non-disclosure agreements “have interfered with the ability of scientists and public health experts to understand what is at stake here.”
To Learn More:
Drillers Silence Fracking Claims With Sealed Settlements (by Jim Efstathiou Jr. and Mark Drajem, Bloomberg News)
Pennsylvania Judge, Citing 1776 Law, Orders Fracking Compensation Disclosure (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
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