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The Courts Power The Almighty Buck Technology

Texas Family Awarded $2.9 Million In Fracking Lawsuit 146

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-mess-with-texas dept.
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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Texas Family Awarded $2.9 Million In Fracking Lawsuit

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  • Um yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Whatsmynickname (557867) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @09:36AM (#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: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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.

      • 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.
      • by timeOday (582209)

        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 th

        • Re:Um yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jedidiah (1196) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @12:52PM (#46848337) Homepage

          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.

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

        If their lawyers were to take 100% of the cash, or even if it all got incinerated in a firestorm near a water faucet, that family would still have gotten some revenge on a stupid drilling company that still deserves to have a few million dollars carved out of its ass.

        Aruba Petroleum has about 15 employees and reports earnings of $50 million of revenue per year. This settlement sets them back by just three weeks of fracking. Someone needs to be waterboarded in fracking fluid.

    • by jonsmirl (114798)

      Article says they lease the land.

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

      • by jonsmirl (114798)

        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.

        • 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?"
      • 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 (Score:5, Informative)

          by LifesABeach (234436) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @10:32AM (#46847671)
          One need only stand down wind to become more aware.
        • 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

          • by Reziac (43301) *

            What I want to know is if others are similarly affected, or if they're unique and special snowflakes.

            I know people who have working oil wells in their front yard (not an uncommon sight in parts of the high plains) and had no such issues.

        • by Teun (17872)
          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, hardl

        • by rtb61 (674572)

          What you are seeing here is the real problem with fracking. It is not one well creating fractures with in the ground is was 22 within a 2 mile radius, plus how many more beyond that. The real is, it is a fantasy to think that those fractures only go in one direction and do create vertical faults. Fracking is not about one well and one point of rock formation fracturing, but thousands of well, even tens of thousands of wells concentrated within a localised region, leaks to the surface in that case are the n

    • Re:Um yeah (Score:5, Funny)

      by quenda (644621) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @11:15AM (#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.

      • 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]

        • I think it was a joke.

        • by tompaulco (629533)

          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.

    • 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.

    • by sjames (1099)

      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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 26, 2014 @09:37AM (#46847487)

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

    • by fermion (181285) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @10:39AM (#46847727) Homepage Journal
      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.
      • 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.

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          >> 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 tha

          • 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.

      • by ckedge (192996)

        > they can kill 13 people with impunity

        That's a gross over-generalization, or rather hyperbolic spin on reality.

        Do you drive a car? You help kill 100,000 Americans a year, by deciding to drive. And 20,000 pedestrians, and 10,000 cyclists. With complete impunity as long as it's an "accident" (statistical likelyhood with sufficient statistical reality).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 26, 2014 @09:40AM (#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".

    • 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.
      • by sjames (1099)

        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??!

    • 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 (Score:5, Informative)

        by mysidia (191772) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @10:32AM (#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

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

          • by mysidia (191772) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @02:43PM (#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.

          • by sjames (1099)

            That depends, have you seen a doctor and gotten your blood tested? What did they find and what was the most likely source of the harmful pollutants found?

        • by iceperson (582205)
          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...
          • by mysidia (191772)

            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...

            It would seem the jury knows a lot more than you about the commonality of these symptoms. They show evidence of more likely than not exposure to environmental hazards, probably from the well out back, and that is the standard that needs to be met to prevail in court.

            As for blood pressure issues in 11 year olds... l

          • Re:mystery ailments (Score:4, Informative)

            by mysidia (191772) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @05:21PM (#46854703)

            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

            You think it is perfectly normal for a family of 3... all 3 of them to start experiencing all these symptoms simultaneously with extreme severity? It doesn't matter how common you think the symptoms are. This is not explainable as a normal phenomenon. It is a definite indication of a problem, possible poisoning. They are also miserable symptoms to suffer.

            There are 60 or so chemical elements found in every person on the planet

            See this article, Page 2A this article [earthworksaction.org]

            "I hired someone to do water and air sampling at the home," she said. "The methane level in my daughter's room was at asphyxiation levels. And it was barely lower than what it was outside our home."
            "She showed the results to her doctor, who told her to leave her home within 48 hours."

            .... ....

            In early fall 2009, she visited an environmental doctor who confirmed the presence of neurotoxins in her blood that matched chemicals used in natural gas production.

            Medical tests confirmed the toxins in Lisa's system matched toxins found in the atmosphere in an air-quality investigation conducted by the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ) at a nearby gas well site.

            On the evening of July 25, 2010, the Parrs smelled as trong odor emanating from a frac tank at a site operated by Arbua Petroleum of Plano. They reported it to TCEQ. Investigators arrived within hours to capture air samples.

            Odors were detected up to a quarter-mile from the well site.
            The investigator, Damon Armstrong, reported that a "plume" wafting from the tank was "visible with the naked eye." The petroleum-like odor was so intense the investigator himself felt sick in the short time he was there.

            Noting dizziness and sore throat.

            The analysis found five compounds that exceeded safe values for short-term health effects, and another 20 exceeded safe levels for long-term effects.


            The investigation found elevated levels of ethane, pentane, bexane, octane, xylene, and nonae, all potentially toxic chemicals.

            Four days later, a medical test discovered the same chemicals inside Lisa.

            "The environmental specialist ran numerous tests on me." Lisa said, "I had about 20 of the chemicals they use in the oil and gas industry in my tissues and in my blood system. Never in my life had I been so sick."

            Aruba operates many of the 21 gas wells surrounding the Parr Home. TCEQ has received dozens of odor, spill, and nuisance complaints from Allison residents in the community over the past year.

            Enforcement actions are pending against two nearby Aruba sites, one for nuisance and another for violations without authorization.

            The company has been fined more than $30,000 in the past year by TCEQ for operations in the Allison area.

            The July 25 report recommended Aruba receive two more violations. One was for contaminants being in such concentration and of such duration ... to be injurious to or to adversly affect human health or welfare, animal life, vegetation, or property." A second was for failure to claim authorization for a facility emitting air contaminants.


            No gas wells are in the Parrs' 40 acres. The wells in question surround their land, hundreds of yards removed from the home. But their location makes it a natural pocket for collecting heavy toxins.


            "We live below a ridge in a little valley," Bob said. "At night when the wind dies down, anything down here sits and settles. Some of these chemicals and toxins are heavier than the air."


            "I was pretty much losing my memory," she said "I couldn't walk straight, and I kept falling down. I

        • by dasunt (249686)

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

          I'd probably say that most of us have toxic chemicals in our bodies. Look at what chemicals are found in animals in remote areas in the world. Now consider that most of us live in non-remote areas where pollution is higher. Add in our homes, which outgas other pollutants, from the construction of the home, furnishings, cleaning supplies, etc.

          Even the food we eat tends to have residential pesticides and pers

        • by stenvar (2789879)

          Oh really? Which problem are you saying is common? Having 20 toxic chemicals found in your body?... "My doctor, an internal specialist, found 20 chemicals in my body"

          Actually, she said her doctor found "20 chemicals", not "20 toxic chemicals". But be that as it may, we all are full of toxic chemicals, viruses, bacteria, parasites, mutations, necrotic tissue, and other icky and potentially deadly stuff. It's what we have livers, kidneys, and an immune system for, and on average, we survive this for about 80

        • Having 20 toxic chemicals found in your body?

          So, were all those chemicals used in fracking?

          Or even in more conventional gas-recovery?

      • what part of vomiting white foam is normal?

        • by stenvar (2789879)

          I discounted that as a lie. The only way that happens is if you drink detergent; it certainly is not caused by anything related to fracking.

    • by mysidia (191772)

      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.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      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 ambulanc
      • by jedidiah (1196)

        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

      • by sjames (1099)

        Perhaps you should RTFA and not just the summary then. None of the people freaking out about cell towers have ever had a licensed medical doctor find microwave radiation in their blood and advise them to move away from the tower immediately.

  • $2.9 million? Frackin' eh!
  • by tomhath (637240) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @09:52AM (#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.
    • The lawyers got a jury to agree.

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

      • 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.

  • 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
    • by rubycodez (864176)

      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

  • 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?

  • 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..

    • 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. Th

      • by FirstOne (193462)

        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.

        • 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 manufac

        • So you want to beat entropy then? Good luck.

    • by Teun (17872)
      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.

      • by citizenr (871508)

        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.

        You seem to not undrstand how fracking works. It is based on the idea of injecting CONTAMINATION into the ground, which in turn releases even more contamination.

        • by Teun (17872)
          Uh no, I understand very well how fracking works, it's (a small) part of my job.
          I agree some of the chemicals used in the US fracking business are unpleasant but the quantities are very small and like fracking of a one-off nature.
          All oil and gas wells produce 'associated' water and it is always a health hazard, similar to the oil and condensate from the same wells.

          In other words, when treating the fracking chemicals exactly as the associated water from these wells there is no health hazard at all.
          Other

  • by kqc7011 (525426)
    Any bets on what the award will be after the appeals are done with?
    • by mysidia (191772)

      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?

    • by PPH (736903)

      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.

  • by towermac (752159) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @10:16AM (#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. :)

    • by PPH (736903)

      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.

    • by Teun (17872)

      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 natio

    • by citizenr (871508)

      The point of a judgement like this, is that it's supposed to sting.

      sting????? This is maybe few minutes of that particular well profit.

    • by _Ludwig (86077)

      Every time I get gas, at least one drop hits the pavement

      I’m sure there’s medication available for that.

  • 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 lik
  • by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @11:37AM (#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. ]

    • by digsbo (1292334)
      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
    • 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

      • 1) I would love nothing else for petro-power to become economically unsustainable with respect to renewables. Currently, that's not the case even with massive green-power subsidies. Here in CA, power prices are pushed ever higher as they push the mandates higher.

        2) Functional regulation also requires a principled opposition that is willing to focus on actual deliverables rather than scoring points.

        3) There is no way that global warming is going to be solved by regulations on the extractive industry, so this

        • Don't dilute yourself, petro-power is heavily subsidized. From getting it to processing to transport to construction and even the regulations. I'm not in CA but we don't have much in the way of green energy welfare but we have it for traditional fuels. We have a ton of ethanol BS and that is a total scam. If you start putting prices on pollution and the damages it causes that we almost completely ignore, then we are really paying a huge price for petro-power... even if you can't clearly arrive at a PRICE

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

    Which in Texas means very little.

  • I hope more and more families are awarded big, juicy settlements like this, to the point where it's no longer worthwhile for frackers to have those regulatory exemptions.

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