Fracking lifetime gag order for Pennsylvania children

This video from the USA is called Stephanie Hallowich discusses water issues due to hydraulic fracturing.

By Philip Guelpa in the USA:

Gas drilling company imposes lifetime gag order on Pennsylvania children

8 August 2013

Two children, ages 7 and 10, were barred from publicly discussing the health effects of hydrofracking, as part of a 2011 settlement made between their parents and an oil drilling company, according to a court transcript made public last week.

The transcripts clearly showed that the children’s’ parents, Stephanie and Chris Hallowich, believed they signed an agreement binding their children never to speak about the case or hydraulic fracturing, because they said they needed to settle with the drilling company, which was poisoning the local water supply, in order to move their children out of the area.

The Hallowich family brought legal action against Range Resources, a major gas drilling company, for polluting their domestic water supply as a result of the company’s use of hydraulic fracturing near their home to extract natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation, which underlies a large portion of Pennsylvania and adjacent states.

Mr. and Mrs. Hallowich said that the pollution, emanating from four wells, gas compressor stations and a 3-acre wastewater impoundment adjacent to their 10-acre farm, was making the family sick, but they were financially unable to leave their home. Increasingly desperate to escape the poisonous environment in which they were living, the parents ultimately agreed to a settlement with the company, which included an order preventing their children from speaking on the issue of fracking.

According to the court records, Peter Villari, the Hallowich’s lawyer, asked them, “You both understand and accept that as written the settlement agreement may apply to your children’s First Amendment rights as well?,” to which Mrs. Hallowich replied, “Yes.”

Villari continued, “And you accept that because you, as adults and as legal guardians and parents of these children, are accepting these terms and conditions because you believe it is in the best interests of not only them but your family?,” to which Mr. Hallowich replied, “Yes, and health reasons. We needed to do this in order to get them out of this situation.”

Drilling companies typically seek to silence claims that their activities have caused health injuries to local residents through a combination of intimidation and cash settlements, which typically include confidentiality agreements that prevent the injured parties from speaking publicly.

In this way the drilling companies seek to suppress public disclosure of the true extent of health problems caused by fracking at relatively minor cost, allowing them to publicly maintain the claim that the extraction of gas by hydraulic fracturing is safe.

The Hallowich case is the first reported instance in which not only the adults, but the under-age members of the family as well are subject to a gag order, and sets yet another precedent for the destruction of democratic rights by corporations.

The family’s lawyer told the judge, “I, frankly, your Honor, as an attorney, to be honest with you, I don’t know if that’s possible that you can give up the First Amendment rights of a child.” He said that his research had turned up no examples of prior cases in which gag orders were imposed on children.

Federal and state governments have also gone to great lengths to support the energy industry and minimize public knowledge of the health dangers of fracking. For example, in 2012, under Pennsylvania’s right-wing Republican governor, Tom Corbett, a major promoter of hydrofracking, the state legislature passed a law which, in effect, is a gag order against the entire medical profession in the state.

The law allows doctors to ask companies carrying out hydrofracking activities to provide them with lists of the chemicals being used in order to diagnose individual poisoning cases, but requires that they sign confidentiality agreements that would effectively prevent doctors from sharing such information with their colleagues. This, renders difficult if not impossible epidemiological studies which could identify patterns of disease related to fracking.

Although Range Resources has subsequently made statements suggesting that the gag order is not legally binding on the children, the legal settlement agreement has not been altered, and stands as a precedent which corporations will seek to draw on in the future.

Vast swaths of Pennsylvania forests were clear-cut circa 1900 and regrowth has largely been from local native plant communities, but a team of researchers has found that invasive, non-native plants are making significant inroads with unconventional natural [shale] gas development: here.

California politicians have called on the US federal government to investigate hydraulic fracturing off the California coast, where new oil leases have been banned since 1969: here.

West Virginia landfills will accept unlimited amounts of often-radioactive fracking waste: here.

Fracking in Romania: An investigative journalism project on Romanian government’s shale gas agreements with Chevron: here.

Will fracking open #Africa to more #corruption? Here.

UK: Furious environmental campaigners have accused Prime Minister David Cameron of being “a cheerleader for the fracking industry” after he urged the public to get behind the controversial gas-extraction process: here.

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — U.S. oil company Chevron has suspended exploration for shale gas in northeastern Romania after hundreds of anti-fracking protesters tore down fences: here.

Shaken by “frackquakes,” Texans demand halt to wastewater wells: here.

Exxon CEO comes out against fracking project because it will affect his property values: here.


48 thoughts on “Fracking lifetime gag order for Pennsylvania children

  1. Pingback: Kentucky fracked fish, not Kentucky Fried Chicken | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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  3. The House of Representatives just passed a bill that would block the federal government from enforcing important fracking safeguards and delay an EPA study that would provide families with important information on how fracking is affecting their drinking water.

    We can stop this bill in the Senate, but only if our Senators hear from us now.

    Please urge your Senators to reject this bill and protect us from the dangers of fracking.

    Thanks for all you do!

    Bob Fertik

    A dangerous fracking bill just passed through the House of Representatives. We can block it in the Senate but only with your help. Email your Senators here >>

    Does this look normal to you?

    We need more protections against
    the dangers of fracking, not less!

    Tell the Senate: Say NO to
    giving frackers free reign >>

    Dear Activist,

    You’ve heard about fracking, right?

    The natural gas extraction process that has caused running water taps to light on fire in Pennsylvania and triggered earthquakes in Ohio?

    While we don’t know everything about its environmental impacts yet, any process where you’re going to be shooting a huge amount of water, sand, and chemicals into our lands – and where there are many reports of damaging health effects and animals dying – should be a top priority for government oversight.

    But guess what the House of Representatives just passed?

    A bill that would block the federal government from enforcing important fracking safeguards on our public lands and delay an EPA study that would provide American families with important information on how fracking is affecting their drinking water.

    Don’t let the Senate frack this up: email your senators now to make sure they stop this dangerous fracking bill now!

    Yep. House Republican leadership just decided that polluters don’t have enough free reign to plunder our public lands.

    So they passed a bill that will block our government from making sure that oil and gas companies stick to the rules that were set up to try to avoid chemical spills and water contamination. And now Senator Orrin Hatch has introduced a corresponding bill in the Senate.

    This could be a fracking fiasco.

    The good news is that we have a lot of environmental champions in the Senate who will stand up against this terrible bill. But as I write this, I’m sure that the natural gas and oil companies are sending all their high-paid lobbyists to Capitol Hill to try to get this pushed through.

    So your senators need to hear your voice now, calling on them to protect us against the dangers of fracking.

    Tell your senators to push for stronger standards on fracking, not gut the protections we already have. Send a message here >>

    The health of our communities, future of our lands, and survival of our wildlife depends on what you do today. So thanks for speaking out now to stop this dangerous bill.


    Vanessa Kritzer
    Online Campaigns Manager
    League of Conservation Voters


  4. Révélation WikiLeaks : l’industrie pétrolière se prépare pour la plus importante campagne environnementale jamais connue


    WikiLeaks a dévoilé une série de documents qui révèlent à quel point les compagnies pétrolières se sentent acculées par les activistes. Les experts pensent que l’opposition aux projets dangereux pour l’environnement, notamment l’exploitation des sables bitumeux, pourrait à terme devenir la plus grande campagne pour l’environnement de tous les temps. Ces révélations éclairent les méthodes des multinationales pour appréhender la résistance (subdivisée en catégories allant de “réaliste” à “radicale”).

    Lire l’article


  5. Over the past year, the Environmental Protection Agency has repeatedly shut down its own fracking-related water contamination investigations after being pressured by the oil and gas industry.

    Thanks to EPA whistleblowers, the Los Angeles Times reported that the fracking investigation in Dimock, PA was shut down despite evidence from EPA’s water tests that Dimock’s drinking water was polluted.

    Please join Food & Water Watch in telling EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and President Obama to make sure the EPA does its job.

    Thanks for all you do!

    Bob Fertik


    Food & Water Watch

    Is the EPA Covering Up for the Oil and Gas Industry?
    Tell the EPA to Re-Open investigations into Water Contamination from Fracking

    Don’t Let the Oil and Gas Industry Get Away with Fracking Contamination

    Fracking-Contaminted water Dimock Pennsylvania.jpg

    Tell the EPA to Re-Open Investigations into Water Contamination from Fracking

    Dear Supporter,

    If you’re concerned about the safety of our water and the environment, I know you’ll want to hear about this:

    Whistle-blowers from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently revealed that, in 2012, the EPA abandoned an investigation of fracking-related water contamination in Dimock, Pennsylvania after an EPA staff member raised the flag that it was likely caused by fracking.

    There’s an unfortunate trend here, because they’ve also abandoned their fracking-related water contamination investigations in Pavillion, Wyoming; and Weatherford, Texas.

    This is unbelievable, and totally unacceptable.

    Will you join me today in calling on President Obama and EPA administrator Gina McCarthy to immediately re-open these investigations into fracking contamination?

    Fracking is the process of injecting a mixture of toxic chemicals, sand and millions of gallons of water deep below ground to break up, or fracture, shale rock formations to extract oil and gas. Since many fracking wells are drilled directly through or near our water resources, there is a great possibility of contamination of drinking water from fracking.

    Tell the EPA to re-open the investigations into water contamination from fracking!

    Food & Water Watch is working closely with our allies across the country to ban fracking before it starts, but in the places where it’s already happening, it’s critical that the EPA investigate and hold oil and gas companies accountable for the contamination they cause. The people that live in fracked areas can’t live without safe drinking water.

    Take action today to make sure any water contamination from fracking is investigated.

    Thanks for taking action,

    Sarah Alexander
    Deputy Organizing Director
    Food & Water Watch


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