In the country’s first fracking lawsuit that actually made it to trial, the jury ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, Bob and Lisa Parr, and awarded them $3 million in damages. Aruba Petroleum, the defendants in the case, plan to appeal the ruling to a higher Texas court that has already been bought and paid for by big oil money.
“Aruba argued that it had complied with air quality and drilling safety guidelines set by the Texas Railroad Commission and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TDECQ). Aruba told jurors the Parrs’ can’t prove it was one of Aruba’s wells that caused them to get sick because the gas wells it drilled, eight within a mile of the Parr land and 14 within two miles, are all over a landscape which features several dozens of other drilling rig operations,” states the Parrs’ attorney’s remarks on the legal firm’s website.
The Parrs filed suit after realizing Lisa’s sudden strange illnesses coincided exactly with when the fracking operations began on the 22 injection wells surrounding their property. Thinking they had purchased a piece of paradise became a nightmare as the health of their livestock and themselves deteriorated quickly. Water tests showed their wells were poisoned with fracking chemicals. Lisa suffered from breathing difficulties, nausea and rashes that left her scarred with pock-marks. She had biopsies of the oozing welts on her scalp and the 4 ping-pong-ball-sized lumps on her neck. Testing showed drilling chemicals in Lisa’s blood and lungs that match chemicals detected by the state in air testing outside her home.And this is just what we know of the Parrs, who were strong enough to withstand intimidation and private settlement pressures with the oil company. We do not know how many people have been sickened, nor will we ever know for certain. Yet, for the sake of profit, regulators look the other way and pollution standards are weakened so more profit can be made in the fastest possible time.
There are two things wrong with the current approach: we are allowing the creation of a false “shale oil bubble” in our economy and secondly, we now know these wells that are supposed to produce for 30 to 40 years give out the bulk of their production in the first three to five years. Without bringing in compressors and re-injecting these wells, they lose their productivity. Some have given out completely in as little as three years, and leave the poison and damage to the environment and landscape when they are taken out of service.
The “shale oil bubble” means we are being sold another trunk of junk, like the housing bubble, that promises investors to become independently wealthy very quickly. We are given false promises by the gas and oil companies that lead us to believe the faster we get this stuff out of the ground, the cheaper the gas at the pump will be. Consumers don’t understand that speculators and the oil companies themselves are what drives the gas price at the pump, and they could change that tomorrow if they really wanted to. They have gotten really good at raising our gas prices when someone in the middle east sneezes. One can only wonder if the incredible rush comes from a sense of urgency based on the public not discovering the true hazards until they have done their damage and reaped their rewards.
Occupy World Writes predicts the higher court in Texas will rule in favor of Aruba. We also hope this will then be appealed to the Supreme Court. We hope more than anything else that others will take inspiration from this case and start using the legal system to stop the killing of America for the profits of corporations.
Happy Earth Week!