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Texas Family Awarded $2.9 Million In Fracking Lawsuit

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the don't-mess-with-texas dept.

The Courts 146

New submitter martinQblank writes "CNN reports: A Texas family whose home was within a two-mile radius of 22 natural gas wells — one of which was less than 800 feet away — has been awarded $2.9 million by a jury. The family, who suffered from a variety of ailments (including nosebleeds, rashes, migraines and more), was advised by a doctor to leave their ranch immediately and see a physician specializing in environmental health. The defendant in the case, Aruba Petroleum, disagreed with the jury's decision, as did other attorneys who are familiar with the energy sector — calling in a 'knee-jerk' reaction. Additionally the company noted that they had complied with all applicable environmental regulations. The family itself? Still in favor of oil and natural gas extraction: 'We are not anti-fracking or anti-drilling. My goodness, we live in Texas. Keep it in the pipes, and if you have a leak or spill, report it and be respectful to your neighbors. If you are going to put this stuff in close proximity to homes, be respectful and careful.'"

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146 comments

Um yeah (4, Insightful)

Whatsmynickname (557867) | about 3 months ago | (#46847481)

We are not anti-fracking or anti-drilling. My goodness, we live in Texas.

Yeah, we love fracking! Now give us the 2.9 million dollars...

Re:Um yeah (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46847549)

We are not anti-fracking or anti-drilling. My goodness, we live in Texas.

Yeah, we love fracking! Now give us the 2.9 million dollars...

Considering the fucking lawyers will get most of that settlement, kindly STFU. Settlement amounts are offset for the legal teams. Any moron knows that.

Re:Um yeah (2)

Captain Splendid (673276) | about 3 months ago | (#46847907)

Considering the fucking lawyers will get most of that settlement

Depends what agreement the clients signed at the beginning of the case. Which you're not privy to. And which I doubt is higher than 50%.

But yeah, lawyers are scum, that's the important takeaway here.

Re:Um yeah (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 3 months ago | (#46848001)

Considering the fucking lawyers will get most of that settlement, kindly STFU.

Oh well, the plaintiff's complaints don't sound like anything that should have made them rich, yet they'll never have to work again, even after the lawyers get their piece. And the proximate source of that money is an oil company, which is turning a buck destroying natural resources they didn't create, making a mess of the atmosphere that will take the next couple centuries to clean up. Might as well throw some lawyers in the brew.

Re:Um yeah (5, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | about 3 months ago | (#46848337)

It sounds like the oil company permanently deprived them of their home. If it is some large ranch, the total value of the land could be non-trivial. Even the value of a large home in the city can creep up near the 1 Million dollar range.

If that land was providing income then there are direct economic damages that a few million might adequately cover.

That's not even getting into medical bills or permanent harm to several people. All of that could also have lingering economic consequences.

Re:Um yeah (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 3 months ago | (#46848555)

Ok, in reading the article, I probably let my knee-jerk "Whiplash!" response kick in a little too much.

Re:Um yeah (2)

jonsmirl (114798) | about 3 months ago | (#46847559)

Article says they lease the land.

Next question - were the wells there before they leased it?

Re:Um yeah (1)

jonsmirl (114798) | about 3 months ago | (#46847563)

To clarify. It is a 40 acre parcel. It is likely that these wells are located on the property they are leasing. They article does not address this. I am wondering if they leased the land knowing the wells were there.

Re:Um yeah (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 3 months ago | (#46847665)

The Koch bro's say, "vote with your wallet." I guess when you and yours suffer or die, maybe one could vote with a, "Smack Lite?"

Re:Um yeah (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 3 months ago | (#46847593)

Next question - were the wells there before they leased it?

I don't see why that matters. They said they don't mind living next to the wells, as long as the wells don't leak.

I also don't see what this has to do with "fracking". The alleged leaks occurred at the wellheads, thousands of meters above any fracking.

Re:Um yeah (4, Informative)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 3 months ago | (#46847671)

One need only stand down wind to become more aware.

Re:Um yeah (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46848047)

I also don't see what this has to do with "fracking". The alleged leaks occurred at the wellheads, thousands of meters above any fracking.

It has everything to do with fracking because to the liberal idiots who have turned it into a political agenda, fracking isn't actual fracking. Fracking is an umbrella term under which they put everything they don't like about the energy industry. Train derails in the Bakken? Fracking. Nuclear power plant pours water into local river? Fracking. It's the awesome new buzzword that gets traction with the media.

Do you realize? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46848415)

That whenever you pepper your misguided missive at "liberal idiots" or "conservative morons", you are basically saying that your brain can only process a 6 year old's level of communication, correct? Anyone with a brain laughs at people like you, because you barely qualify as sentient. You are a propaganda repeater, and have no ability to form original thoughts in that vacuum of a mind you have.

Re:Um yeah (4, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | about 3 months ago | (#46848875)

You sir appear to be a fracking idiot.

Re:Um yeah (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 months ago | (#46848141)

It really doesn't have much to do with fracking technology per se. The main link would be that, because of the benefits of fracking, the resources under their property is now economically viable to extract. Fracking is used as a term of convenience and because it's a nice boogy man.

However, as is usual, TFA is incomprehensible as written. The family has '20 chemicals' in their bloodstream? Congratulations - you're alive. The symptoms seemed consistent with exposure to organic solvent vapors. Which, of course, you are supposed to avoid. It's likely that the Nasty Petrochemical Corp sited the well heads much too close to the animals and people - that may have been unavoidable given constraints of the lease and so the judgement is a reasonable one given the family's discomfort, additional expenses and potential for future harm.

But as a general argument against fracking- it's not going to be that.

Re:Um yeah (1)

Teun (17872) | about 3 months ago | (#46848385)

I agree, in the US there have been bad fracks, mainly due to lack of responsible environmental legislation and thus shoddy engineering but here the complaint is about what happened above ground like fumes.

Car emissions are regulated, not so the huge Diesel engines used in the industry.
I work worldwide in the industry, the US as about the only developed country that is so lenient towards the oil companies.

There also is a lot of bad journalism like the ever present mentioning of chemicals being used, hardly ever do these stories name those chemicals or the quantities used (~0.5%, mainly Glycol, some anti-bacterials)
Never do they mention that all oil and gas wells naturally produce very unhealthy water, this is normally disposed off in an environmental safe and responsible way, like re-injecting it back into the formation it came from.
Frack water, including it's small traces of chemicals should and can be disposed of similarly.

But the typical small cowboy-style frack operators sometimes go for the cheapest option local law allows them to get away with...
Please moan about these oil companies, but start by moaning about the regulators!

Re:Um yeah (5, Funny)

quenda (644621) | about 3 months ago | (#46847919)

Yeah, we love fracking! Now give us the 2.9 million dollars...

Lawsuit money that is. Green Gold. Texas tea.

Well the first thing you know ol Bob's a millionaire,
Doctors said "Bob move away from there"
Said "Californy is the place you ought to be"
So they loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly.

Hills that is. Swimmin' pools, clean air.

Re:Um yeah (1)

ClickOnThis (137803) | about 3 months ago | (#46848009)

Yeah, we love fracking! Now give us the 2.9 million dollars...

Lawsuit money that is. Green Gold. Texas tea.

Well the first thing you know ol Bob's a millionaire,
Doctors said "Bob move away from there"
Said "Californy is the place you ought to be"
So they loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly.

Hills that is. Swimmin' pools, clean air.

Wait, what? [usa.com]

Re:Um yeah (1)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 3 months ago | (#46848079)

I think it was a joke.

Re:Um yeah (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 3 months ago | (#46848465)

Yeah, we love fracking! Now give us the 2.9 million dollars...

Lawsuit money that is. Green Gold. Texas tea.

Well the first thing you know ol Bob's a millionaire, Doctors said "Bob move away from there" Said "Californy is the place you ought to be" So they loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly.

Hills that is. Swimmin' pools, clean air.

Wait, what? [usa.com]

Isn't it obvious? Move to Beverly Hills. Sue the city for air quality. Move on to the next lawsuit.

How can I relate this to a car analogy... (1)

dfm3 (830843) | about 3 months ago | (#46848719)

We are not anti-fracking or anti-drilling. My goodness, we live in Texas.

Yeah, we love fracking! Now give us the 2.9 million dollars...

I love cars. However, if you drove a car into my house and caused serious injury to my family, I would expect monetary compensation from you to cover the damages and medical bills.

Re:Um yeah (2)

sjames (1099) | about 3 months ago | (#46848861)

A perfectly reasonable position to take if they believe (as they appear to) that fracking can be done safely but that the defendand was negligent.

If someone rear-ended you in traffic, would you declare your hatred for all cars, roads, modes of travel? No? Would you still sue for damages? I'll bet you would.

Complying with all regulations is no excuse (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46847487)

You're still responsible for the damage you cause, even if it's accidental. Your action, your responsibility.

Re:Complying with all regulations is no excuse (3, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | about 3 months ago | (#46847727)

As much as complaints we here over regulation and government interference, modern business depends on it. For instance, the Keystone XL pipeline, or really any big project, would not be able to completed at reasonable costs without the governments ability to take land from private citizens. We also have seen that as long as car company complies with regulation, they can kill 13 people with impunity. A chicken processor can poison hundreds of people as long as they follow regulations. About the only thing a person can do is sue. This is why conservatives hate the courts so much.

Re:Complying with all regulations is no excuse (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about 3 months ago | (#46848109)

About the only thing a person can do is sue.This is why conservatives hate the courts so much.
 
What a dumb thing to say.

Re:Complying with all regulations is no excuse (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 3 months ago | (#46848369)

>> About the only thing a person can do is sue.This is why conservatives hate the courts so much.

> What a dumb thing to say.

Not at all. Sleazy ambulance chasers are the last line of defense of civilization when the government chooses to ignore its responsibilities. "Tort law abuses" allow individuals to seek redress for grievances that the government doesn't care to pursue.

What all the flaming Tea Baggers are forgetting here is that this verdict required convincing a TEXAS JURY.

Yes. Chances are that an entire room full of people MORE CONSERVATIVE THAN YOU signed off on this.

Sure. Second guess the people that actually had to sit and listen to all the evidence and arguments.

Re:Complying with all regulations is no excuse (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about 3 months ago | (#46848573)

I have no idea what you are saying there. In any case, the point is that free market conservatives are typically in favor of tort laws. He said the conservatives "hate the courts so much". It doesn't make sense.

Re:Complying with all regulations is no excuse (1)

sjames (1099) | about 3 months ago | (#46848893)

See: tort reform

Re:Complying with all regulations is no excuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46848237)

As much as complaints we here over regulation and government interference, modern business depends on it...

Thanks BOT...your're BOTAWESOME!!!!

Re:Complying with all regulations is no excuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46847787)

Complying with all regulations??? This is Texas, what regulations?

The award is appropriate (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46847491)

The $2.9 million, minus attorney fees, costs, and taxes, might be just enough to compensate the family for their loss. Keep in mind that if any family members develop cancer or some other ailment later in life as a result of the company's irresponsibility, then that will probably be covered under this award as well.

If it had been an order of magnitude larger, then we could talk about "knee jerk".

Re:The award is appropriate (0)

confused one (671304) | about 3 months ago | (#46847501)

It's only appropriate if there is evidence to directly tie the problems the family is having to the wells in question. If there is no evidence of a correlation, then it is a jury giving an award based on emotion, not fact. OMG Think of the Children and all that. Simply having the wells near their home is not, in fact, correlation.

Re:The award is appropriate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46847811)

If only the state & federal EPA could force companies to disclose 'trade secrets' that the frackers use, and are forced upon the populace.

How can you have evidence if the law is so backwards as to trump human protection over company pollution?

Re:The award is appropriate (2)

sjames (1099) | about 3 months ago | (#46848911)

So they're surrounded by leaky wells venting known harmful VOCs into the air, and blood testing shows harmful concentrations in the plaintiffs and their symptoms are consistant with that exposure but since it's not absolutely impossible that a tsetse fly from Africa blew in on the jet stream and bit them, they should get nothing?

A tiger? In AFRICA??!

mystery ailments (0)

stenvar (2789879) | about 3 months ago | (#46847535)

If TFA describes it correctly, there is not a shred of evidence that their ailments are related to fracking. They have common health problems and simply ascribe them to some cause that seems plausible to them and that lets them sue and blame someone else.

Having said that, I don't believe companies should be drilling for oil within a few hundred feet of existing residential areas, simply because they will get sued for noise, smell, and other nuisances.

Re:mystery ailments (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46847591)

Nosebleeds migraines and rashes are not common ailments.
Or am I the only person who doesn't get these on a regular basis?

Re:mystery ailments (3, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 3 months ago | (#46847627)

Shut up and drink some oil, you commie greentard. The fossil fuel extraction industry is a fucking god, so bow down and take what they give you!

Re:mystery ailments (2, Interesting)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about 3 months ago | (#46847833)

They are symptoms of low level poisoning and immune disorders.

They are also symptoms of on-going stress, such as being panicked over fracking on (or under) your property. Psychosomatic illness, "Nocebos", negative placebos.

This coincidence of symptoms, and our inability to separate the causes, is an issue in most of these cases. You hear about your favourite brand of soap powder causing obscure immune issues, suddenly you get a rash, then you get migraines and join pain, within six months you can barely get out of bed. Poisonous soap powder, or six months of obsessive worry crippling your immune system? Same symptoms, but do you sue the soap company, or the activist network that caused the stress?

Re:mystery ailments (1)

Teun (17872) | about 3 months ago | (#46848423)

You are one of the few getting these problems regularly. deal with it.
Better ask yourself, why does the neighbour get these ailments but the workers on site seem to be unaffected?

Re:mystery ailments (4, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | about 3 months ago | (#46847673)

They have common health problems

Oh really? Which problem are you saying is common? Having 20 toxic chemicals found in your body?

"By 2009, I was having a multitude of problems," Lisa Parr told CNN. "My central nervous system was messed up. I couldn't hear, and my vision was messed up. My entire body would shake inside. I was vomiting white foam in the mornings."
...

In 2009, Lisa's husband, Robert, and their 11-year-old daughter, Emma, also became ill, suffering a laundry-list of symptoms.

"They had nosebleeds, vision problems, nausea, rashes, blood pressure issues. Being that the wells were not on our property, we had no idea that what they were doing on the property around us was affecting us," she said.

"One night, our whole house was vibrating and shaking. We lease that property for our cattle and so I went over there to make sure our cattle wasn't around there, and when I went over there my nose and throat started burning." . ...

Parr called the state Commission on Environmental Quality.

"My doctor, an internal specialist, found 20 chemicals in my body and he said, 'Lisa you must move immediately. You will spend more time and money on hospitals, chemotherapy, and a mortician ... and you need to get an environmental health doctor immediately,' " she said.

The Parrs filed suit in March 2011, asking for $66 million in damages against nine companies that were originally thought to be involved

Re:mystery ailments (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 3 months ago | (#46848285)

I have all those symptoms too. Migraine, rashes, nausea, nosebleeds. Who should I sue then?

Re:mystery ailments (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46848591)

No, but you should probably go get that checked out.....

Re:mystery ailments (3, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | about 3 months ago | (#46848937)

I have all those symptoms too. Migraine, rashes, nausea, nosebleeds. Who should I sue then?

I don't know. You should visit a medical professional and undergo examination and tests to find the cause of your serious health problems.

Re:mystery ailments (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46848433)

Oh really? Which problem are you saying is common? Having 20 toxic chemicals found in your body?

I have 20 toxic chemicals in my body, and all I did today was take my medication, eat at Mcdonald's and smoke a cigarette.

Nosebleeds? Vomitting white foam? Blood pressure issues? Yea, I've got all of those too! It's an acute attack of colitis (hence the medication). If I go stand by a well, and pretend my house was shaking, can I get a payday too?

If they're truly natural gas wells that are on production, there's really only a handful of things coming out of them:

1. natural gas

2. hydrogen sulfide

3. carbon dioxide

4. salt water

Hardly 20 chemicals...

Re:mystery ailments (1)

iceperson (582205) | about 3 months ago | (#46848557)

There are 60 or so chemical elements found in every person on the planet, almost all of which can be "toxic". The 5 'symptoms' listed are all pretty common. I would bet you'd be hard pressed to find a household that hasn't had someone with 1 or all of them at some point in any given 12 month period...

Re:The award is appropriate (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 3 months ago | (#46847617)

Keep in mind that if any family members develop cancer or some other ailment later in life as a result of the company's irresponsibility, then that will probably be covered under this award as well.

The company should have been required to place at least $10 Million in a trust fund obligated to pay for any future medical bills caused in the future to these people or other people harmed by this or other incidents involving the company's wells.

Re:The award is appropriate (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46847643)

Without more information we'd have to conclude that we don't know. Obviously with what is in the summary and all we'd generally write this off as bullshit - just like we do with those folks who claim similar symptoms when a cell tower goes up near them. But of course this is the oil industry and seems to be roundly hated so we assume the symptoms actually exist and show causality from the oil. Dubious at best without much more info. At this point I'd write them off as crackpots and their lawyers as ambulance chasers. We won't get the data we'd need to decide since medical records are private. However the jury must have either seen them or be presented summaries by doctors. But juries are made up of fallible people and sometimes do make ridiculous decisions - so again, not enough info to know the truth of the matter.

Re:The award is appropriate (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 3 months ago | (#46848413)

Except what happens with a cell tower is no secret.

Fracking operators like to keep their chemical cocktails a secret. That alone is problematic enough. Then on top of that you have an Ayn Rand inspired corporate culture supported by idiot lackeys in the wider population that advocate that corporations screw EVERYONE to the best of their ability.

Not a mix that inspires a lot of confidence.

So you are end up with an unknown mix of chemicals capable of doing who knows what if they leak into the environment.

It's time for the Boy Scout governor to actually read a Boy Scout manual. He might want to actually understand the values he claims to champion because he clearly does not.

He must of majored in Western Hypocrisy in college.

Re:The award is appropriate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46848553)

Except what happens with a cell tower is no secret.

Fracking operators like to keep their chemical cocktails a secret. That alone is problematic enough. Then on top of that you have an Ayn Rand inspired corporate culture supported by idiot lackeys in the wider population that advocate that corporations screw EVERYONE to the best of their ability.

Not a mix that inspires a lot of confidence.

So you are end up with an unknown mix of chemicals capable of doing who knows what if they leak into the environment.

It's time for the Boy Scout governor to actually read a Boy Scout manual. He might want to actually understand the values he claims to champion because he clearly does not.

He must of majored in Western Hypocrisy in college.

1. What exactly happens with cell towers? Mostly nothing?

2. During the production phase of a natural gas well, there's really not some secret batch of chemicals they're constantly applying. The well is producing...natural gas. And a few other things that come along with natural gas like other natural gases (hydrogen sulfide, salt water, and carbon dioxide). If the wells are being treated, it's only in small batches, and it's only occasionally. And you know what they're being treated with? Soap and xylene. Wawawaweewa, let's all get cancer.

But you know, best to keep reading the propaganda and thinking that all of the above still falls under the umbrella of "fracking" too.

Re:The award is appropriate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46848117)

Legal settlements and judgements are not usually taxable.

Re:The award is appropriate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46848541)

Not only that, the value of their property dropped significantly. It's now about as valuable as land around Chernobyl. It's pretty despicable that they offer no compensation for, if nothing else, the depreciation of the land. So selfish, so greedy, words can't really describe. All hidden behind the shield of corporation. These people deserve a special place in hell.

I'm for fracking, I believe it will lower energy costs significantly and could be a huge boost to our faltering economy, but for fuck's sake, compensate the people you are displacing. It's not like you can't afford it.

Oh and if these jackals argue that fracking is environmentally sound, put up or shut up. Drink a gallon of water that comes from these faucets.

I wish we could get back to the capitalism that was around before our recent major conglomeration. That was healthy, this is not.

Yea oil companies... be respectful! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46847497)

I think we should add "mental retardation" to their list of ailments.

In Canada they be like (1, Funny)

bytethese (1372715) | about 3 months ago | (#46847523)

$2.9 million? Frackin' eh!

Don't count your chips yet (2)

tomhath (637240) | about 3 months ago | (#46847527)

The lawyers got a jury to agree. That doesn't mean it will stand; we've all seen verdicts based on emotion that get tossed based on facts.

Re:Don't count your chips yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46847579)

Chips? Dude, that is a ranch in Texas. It is "don't count your chickens before the eggs hatch!"

In Texas your only allowed to play poker in your home once a week, provided of course you have your wife's permission and the house don't take a cut. Of course the standard deck pretty much limits you to seven players at the table too. If you want a casino, hop a plane!

Re:Don't count your chips yet (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 3 months ago | (#46847623)

The lawyers got a jury to agree.

In much the same way that someone who wins a debate isn't necessarily correct.

Re:Don't count your chips yet (1)

ClickOnThis (137803) | about 3 months ago | (#46848081)

The lawyers got a jury to agree.

In somewhat the same way that someone who wins a debate isn't necessarily correct.

FTFY. There are a lot more rules for introducing evidence and making arguments in a trial than there are in a debate.

Trial by a jury of peers may be imperfect, but most of the alternatives suck much worse.

WHERE IS MY MONEY? (2, Funny)

Oroka (1644579) | about 3 months ago | (#46847543)

I have had nosebleeds and rashes, and my mother got migraines when I lived with my parents, there MUST be a secret fracking operation going on near our home. Or maybe one of those wind 'death maker' turbines that is destroying our country! Killing several of our birds every year! Stinking up the view. I, as a citizen, DEMAND inexpensive clean energy, I dont want any of my tax dollars spent on developing it, and I dont want it in my back yard. Is that too much to ask as I sit at home, watching my 80" TV, with every light in my 4000 sq ft house that only myself and my wife live in, or while I drive my massively over powered car through the dirty countryside. Is that too much to ask!?

Re:WHERE IS MY MONEY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46847587)

I have had nosebleeds and rashes, and my mother got migraines when I lived with my parents

So she stopped getting migraines when you left? Interesting.

Re:WHERE IS MY MONEY? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 3 months ago | (#46847729)

yes I suspect a natural gas source as the root cause of yours and mom's problems. a change in diet probably will set things right

Congrats on complying with applicable regulations (5, Insightful)

penguinoid (724646) | about 3 months ago | (#46847557)

But why is fracking exempt from the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act?

Re:Congrats on complying with applicable regulatio (3, Insightful)

Nimey (114278) | about 3 months ago | (#46847575)

Regulatory capture.

Re:Congrats on complying with applicable regulatio (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46847577)

I think the word you're looking for is "Cheney."

Re:Congrats on complying with applicable regulatio (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 3 months ago | (#46847693)

Because of the golden rule: he who has the gold makes the rules.

Re:Congrats on complying with applicable regulatio (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46847707)

Why you ask? Money and power. The excuse of course will turn out to be the same one that has been used for so many other abuses of rights since 9/11. Wonder how many of those people that died that day would be ashamed of how their deaths have been used to reduce the liberty they enjoyed?

General John Stark: Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.

Re:Congrats on complying with applicable regulatio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46848069)

But why is fracking exempt from the Clean Air Act

Fracking doesn't occur in the air

Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act

Fracking occurs a mile or more away from the water table

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

Frack water isn't a resource

Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act

it occurs a mile below a community, and generally miles outside of town.

I'm hoping this was sarcasm. If not, for the love of FSM, find a non-politicized site to read up on what fracking actually is.

Good for them.. at least the jury got it right.. (2)

FirstOne (193462) | about 3 months ago | (#46847565)

With 22 wells nearby, the chances of their water not being contaminated are very low.. Thus industry lifetime Failure rate for these wells runs 30% to 50% [thetyee.ca] !

The industry really needs to step up to the plate and improve their drilling tech and methods. Hopefully more and more juries around the country will impose these costs on the oil and gas industry. Either clean up or get out!!

Personally, we really don't need this fossil fuel tech, when Renewable energy sources are very capable of fulfilling ALL our energy needs [singularityhub.com] . We know fossil fuels are finite.. they're going to run out, sooner or later.. Let's jump into the future and skip over these nasty fault prone energy sources. It boarders to the point of insanity, that the general public hasn't figured this out..

Re:Good for them.. at least the jury got it right. (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about 3 months ago | (#46847629)

I've reviewed the numbers on your "renewable energy" site. They're nonsensical: they don't take into account the energy requirements of growing population, air conditioning for dense urban areas, desalinization for water supplies, nor the chemical needs for replacing cheap refined petroleum for plastics with manufacturing those plastics as petroleum supplies are exhausted.

Retaining anything like the current American lifestyle, or providing it to the growing world population, requires a new energy source. The only one that works without fundamentally new physics discoveries is space-based solar mirrors, which are _feasible_. They do have enormous startup costs and present a real risk of abuse as weapons. Arthur C. Clarke described how they can be orbited in non-geo-synchronous altitudes, using solar wind and light pressure to provide thrust to stabilize them in orbits that would require constant thrust to be geo-synchronous.

Re:Good for them.. at least the jury got it right. (1)

FirstOne (193462) | about 3 months ago | (#46847765)

Considering the US wastes 61 to 86 percent [cleantechnica.com] of its energy, we've got plenty of room for improvement. Even the Toyota Prius is only 25% fuel efficient. Your average auto is around 10%. and that does NOT include all the losses involved in finding/refining/delivering the gas. Again lot's of room for improvement.

Re:Good for them.. at least the jury got it right. (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about 3 months ago | (#46848007)

Room for improvement, certainly. Enough to replace fossil fuels, no. That remaining 20-30%, even if we were far more efficient, is a limiting factor, and it's being expanded worldwide with growing population and growing wealth. Without investing enormous amounts of arable land and water that are needed for food production (for biofuels), or an unheralded shift in efficiency of solar cells (which is hoped for, but for which there are no proven technologies) and reduction in the toxic effects of their manufacture , or a profound breakthrough in hydrogen based rather than tritium based or deuterium based fusion (which no one has achieved), or a large improvement in efficiency, safety, and waste disposal for fusion, there's nothing left that looks technologically feasible and renewable.

Switching from gasoline to electrical motors does not solve the overall energy problem. Though often more efficient, there's still a tremendous consumption to support.

Re:Good for them.. at least the jury got it right. (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 3 months ago | (#46848321)

So you want to beat entropy then? Good luck.

Re:Good for them.. at least the jury got it right. (1)

Teun (17872) | about 3 months ago | (#46848501)

1 or 22 wells, it doesn't matter.
If these wells are engineered and drilled in a responsible way there will be absolutely ZERO chance of polluting ground and surface water.

The problem is a lack of regulation and cowboy outfits that often disappear overnight.

Award (1)

kqc7011 (525426) | about 3 months ago | (#46847595)

Any bets on what the award will be after the appeals are done with?

Re:Award (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 3 months ago | (#46847711)

Any bets on what the award will be after the appeals are done with?

Before or after the company pays a few extra million$ in attorney's fees?

Re:Award (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46847897)

Any bets on what the award will be after the appeals are done with?
Before or after the company pays a few extra million$ in attorney's fees?

Once the company is exonerated of responsibility or wrongdoing, it will surely be appropriate for the family who brought this frivolous lawsuit to pay the defendant's legal fees.

Re:Award (1)

PPH (736903) | about 3 months ago | (#46847883)

If the oil companies are smart, they won't fight this to get the award reduced. $2.9M is peanuts. They need to have the decision overturned completely so as not to have it establish a precedent. So they will probably spend far more than this amount in legal fees for the appeal.

My knee jerk reaction (5, Interesting)

towermac (752159) | about 3 months ago | (#46847603)

Was OMG the libs have penetrated Texas..

Then I gave it a bit more thought and got over myself. The point of a judgement like this, is that it's supposed to sting. It's a whole lot of money for doctor's bills, but not a whole lot of money if the intent is to punish. It's enough though, that I think Aruba (and others) will take notice. Not very many businesses can write a $2.9M check and walk it off in an afternoon.

But first, I don't see any real evil here. The ground around a working oil well is a messy place. You can't help but spill a little, and there's no malfeasance necessary to occasionally spill a lot (what you and I would call a lot). Every time I get gas, at least one drop hits the pavement, no matter how hard I try to tap it off. I totally believe Aruba when they say they did everything they were supposed to do.

I just think that what they are supposed to do, is probably fine for a well out in the middle of a field, but not good enough for a well in a neighborhood. Texas society, acting through their civil court, has pulled somewhat ahead of their regulations and legislation. And one has to think that eventually society will want wells to be cleaner even when they are out in the middle of nowhere.

So, if I am going to be all small government conservative, and pull for states and local folks to take more control of their lives from the mean old federal government, then I need to get my head right, and totally support this judgment. That means encouraging the oil companies to pay up and clean up, and pull themselves ahead of where they are, and catch up to where Texans now want them to be. They've moved the goalposts on you Aruba, but they have that right. And Texas, please continue to give my my under $4 a gallon gas, but don't poison your state and people while doing so. Thank you very much. :)

Re:My knee jerk reaction (1)

PPH (736903) | about 3 months ago | (#46847867)

OMG the libs have penetrated Texas..

Texas court juries are famous for this sort of thing. In spite of the pro business, anti big government face they like to put forward, screw up in Texas and their court system will take a big chunk out of your ass.

Perhaps this is a good thing. They don't meddle in your affairs until you err. Then you get hit with a big penalty.

Re:My knee jerk reaction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46848195)

Perhaps this is a good thing. They don't meddle in your affairs until you err. Then you get hit with a big penalty.

Works great until someone blows up an entire city. Then you go bankrupt before you can pay everyone back, and a year later nobody's done anything to stop it from happening again.

Re:My knee jerk reaction (1)

Teun (17872) | about 3 months ago | (#46848525)

But first, I don't see any real evil here. The ground around a working oil well is a messy place. You can't help but spill a little, and there's no malfeasance necessary to occasionally spill a lot (what you and I would call a lot)

Crap, there is absolutely no reason to spill either at the drilling site or during transport, all it takes is some solid regulation.

Every time I get gas, at least one drop hits the pavement, no matter how hard I try to tap it off.

In Europe filling stations have, by regulation, a spill proof surface and all runoff goes via a separator.
Over here in The Netherlands, a very large gas exporter, the same applies to drilling and production sites.

I totally believe Aruba when they say they did everything they were supposed to do.

Now there I might agree, in Texas there isn't much you are supposed to do...

I don't know the outfit but they are a reasonably size independent even though on a national or international scale they are tiny and could dissolve overnight without hurting the national energy market.

How is this a knee-jerk reaction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46847637)

The settlement is on the low side of reasonable considering they been poisoned, nearly killed and lost the family home?

I only have one thing to say about this... (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 3 months ago | (#46847655)

... "Oh frak [wikimedia.org] ."

What else is known about this ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46847675)

Did any expert detected abnormal gases, unusual vibrations, any traces of radiation inside the family home ? Where is the science in this ?

Negative externalities (1)

Flammon (4726) | about 3 months ago | (#46847689)

negative externalities [wikipedia.org]

Good news!!! (0)

bobthesungeek76036 (2697689) | about 3 months ago | (#46847773)

I have eight (8) fracked gas wells less than 300ft from my house. I get nose bleeds all the time. I’m going to sue the hell out of the bastards!!! (nevermind my nose bleeds are due to allergies did I say that outloud???)

I don’t know how many of y’all have been to Texas but the wind is blowing constantly. Any emissions from these wells are well down the highway seconds after being released. The thought that they will linger enough to cause these health issues is ridiculous. More likely they are being affected by the dust kicked up by all the water trucks that come in and out taking away the water overflow from these wells. Instead of sueing the well owners in a 2-mile radius they need to go after the well owners 20-miles upwind...

The award will not survive appeal.

Re:Good news!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46847973)

I don’t know how many of y’all have been to Texas but the wind is blowing constantly. Any emissions from these wells are well down the highway seconds after being released.

Let me see if I follow your reasoning: I discover a source of poison gas near my house. But because it's windy, it's okay. Uh huh.

Re:Good news!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46847985)

I get nose bleeds all the time. I’m going to sue the hell out of the bastards!!! (nevermind my nose bleeds are due to allergies did I say that outloud???)

That's exactly what the industry wants you to believe.

And when you're sick, out of money, relying on government aid, the industry will be sure not to give a rat's ass about you. The CEOs will be in their pollution free neighborhoods, laughing at how the peons have to put up with the shit while they live in clean, green, and quiet places - none of those big trucks zipping by.

But hey! You can drive your 5,5L V8 around and only pay $3.35 a gallon for gas - and be a MAN with your truck.

Re:Good news!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46848211)

Given the amount of hot air you're putting out, its quite obvious that you'll never have a problem, since all the winds point away from your house.

I speak for everyone downwind of you though... phew, use a breath mint or ten!

The Inconsiderate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46847869)

I really enjoy seeing all the negative posts about these people. How about this, allow a Oil Co. to set up 20 frac rigs around your neighborhood and see if anything changes in your or your family's health. This shouldn't be a debate anymore, its been proven that this technique contaminates. Does that mean we should stop? No. Should these companies do more to prevent this? Yes. They should also do a better job compensating folks if they cause obvious damage. Just because most of you live in a metro or don't have any of this happening near you, doesn't mean it's not happening. It's always funny to see folks defend these companies that truly don't give a crap if you defend them or not, they still make money!! :P

Re:The Inconsiderate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46848429)

Yes, those fracking rigs are noisy and an eyesore. The presence of them causes some people emotional stress and thus causes vague hard to define illnesses. Yet you can say the exact same thing about wind farms. The very same people who oppose fracking want to to park a bunch into your neighborhood instead.

At least fracking will demonstrably reduce the price of energy while wind power is simply an expensive boondoggle.

Final question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46847915)

How long before Congress passes a law limiting damages in Fracking lawsuits limited to $50,000? Maybe next year, this this is an election year.

The rapidly disappearing middle ground ... (4, Insightful)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | about 3 months ago | (#46848015)

We are not anti-fracking or anti-drilling. My goodness, we live in Texas. Keep it in the pipes, and if you have a leak or spill, report it and be respectful to your neighbors. If you are going to put this stuff in close proximity to homes, be respectful and careful.

Yeah, pretty much this.

We all know that extraction companies do idiotic and careless things and don't give a fuck about safety -- either of their workers or of the environment around them.

We also know that a lot of environmentalists advocate the complete cessation of fracking and drilling even though that makes no practical sense (for now).

And so we've lost the middle ground of wanting a strong extractive industry with strong environmental safeguards and a culture of safety grown up around it. It would be a strategic error for companies to adopt such a policy in a situation where environmentalists are going to oppose them politically and legally anyway no matter what they do. And it would be a strategic error for environmentalists to advocate for responsible extraction given that the companies are going to weasel out of it anyway.

I know where we want to go, I think it's certainly technologically and economically feasible to extract oil and gas without damaging the environment. But the way we pursue it is fundamentally broken on all sides.

[ And none of this is intended to be negative. I consider myself an environmentalist and a technologist FWIW. ]

Re:The rapidly disappearing middle ground ... (1)

digsbo (1292334) | about 3 months ago | (#46848489)

Right. This is why I have such a hard time coming to form opinions on environmental issues; the publicized part of the debate is so polarized, I don't really trust what I read from either side, and have almost assumed the truth is not what either are presenting. Which, unfortunately, doesn't mean something in the middle ground. For example, the debate over CO2 emissions is so focused on increased greenhouse effects (or denial of such) that it wasn't until recently I learned that ocean acidification might be a much more important issue. But I don't really know, because now it's clear that's also a polarized issue.

No middle ground anymore. (1)

bussdriver (620565) | about 3 months ago | (#46848715)

1) BUSINESS COST. Shell already has said it's not profitable to extract frack gas at current prices. This is with extensive deregulation, circumvention, and violations. The industry wastes massive amounts during extraction which they don't even consider worth the cost to recover. Shale oil is never cheap; it requires high oil prices and that is with the poor regulation it has today. Deep water is less bad but also expensive, they don't take precautions or figure out how to do it safely... that one might be profitable after regulation. In addition, reality makes theses difficult methods take more energy to extract and process even if you somehow found cheap solutions it still takes huge amounts of energy. I suppose the middle ground is ignoring or eliminating regulations or subsidies? (all of which are unethical.)

2) As the USA falls further into despotism (the plutocratic form) functional regulation dies and it is replaced with propaganda. Religious (economic) "tough love" or "poison is good for you," take your pick. No acceptable middle ground between slow death or fast death.

3) Global warming becomes a bigger unchecked problem and people are starting to notice the impacts... which are not yet at a level of an invasion (which always motivates/necessitates a response.) There is no middle ground; other than procrastinating by surrendering territory which makes the inevitable fight more difficult.

Now proper regulation would raise costs significantly and put pressure on finding REAL solutions sooner which is why environmentalists want to use them to prohibit dirty industry growth; HOWEVER, we are actually beyond that point today where industry has to corrupt the whole system to continue to be profitable. Yes there is still cheap oil still pumping but demand far exceeds it so much that even the Saudis are doing offshore extraction to keep up when they claim to have plenty of life left in the ground (either they are lying or desperate to meet demand...as if higher demand was their problem to solve...) By corrupting the system we've made the transition even more painful than it would have been. Naturally, industry also been a part of saying alternatives are not perfect enough to start using them while it undermines and stalls.

Nuclear power is a great example. A still functioning regulatory system makes nuclear power more costly than solar PV. This is still the case with the large government subsidies involved in that industry already. There is no reason nuclear couldn't be run by the gov for baseload power as a non-profit, at a loss. The military handles it's nuclear power better and a base load power grid is a national security issue... Perhaps better designs would be possible, I keep hearing other nations do a better job deciding such things; like Canada for example.

TX regs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46848165)

This sort of thing always make you recall the microwave wingnuts who sued a new microwave station for causing terrible health problems, only to find out it hadn't yet gone live. That said, the problem in TX is that there is no requirement that they must list the chemical/amounts they inject - they can cloak them as "trade secrets.". (Remember, big bidness uber alles in Texas.) Given that, there is no way to prove symptom cause/effect. Given that, I have little problem with the verdict...

The power of delusional thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46848345)

The effects of RF radiation has long proven to be harmless by the scientific consensus of virtually all studies and there are still people insisting that RF from cell phones and WIFI are causing their psychosomatic illnesses and are willing to go to court to sue their neighbors over it. The main ingredient in fracking Dihydrogen Monoxide, the exact same ingredient used in Homopathic medications that millions believe in to be effective treatment that can replace standard medicine. Expect full disclosure to change absolutely nothing as there are people who literally believe that even purified water alone can have magical properties that can fundamentally alter their health.

Complied with all applicable regulations... (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about 3 months ago | (#46848367)

the company noted that they had complied with all applicable environmental regulations

Which in Texas means very little.

It all depends on if they caused it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46848535)

Where I live (ok, within a few hundred miles), a company was pulling heavy oil out of the ground and it was causing local ranchers to get sick. It was determined that the company was venting (as was allowed) a certain amount of gas, and it was also determined that this particular oilfield/heavy oil source had a higher than expected amount of sulphur and H2S. The company was ordered to pay some compensation to the ranchers, and their license was amended to eliminate venting (which they said they would comply with). Water and air are common, and shouldn't be destroyed/contaminated. Oil companies make a lot of money, but they shouldn't impact the ability of others to run their businesses (and few people ranch or farm just as a hobby: its a business).

Compliance is not a complete defense (1)

packrat0x (798359) | about 3 months ago | (#46848693)

"Additionally the company noted that they had complied with all applicable environmental regulations."
Doesn't matter. If you cause damage, you owe damages.

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