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Jury Awards $2.9 million in fracking case

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Lisa and Robert Parr of Plano, Texas, were awarded $2.9 million by a jury for personal injuries and property damages sustained as a result of fracking operations conducted by Aruba Petroleum. According to CNN, Lisa suffered migraine headaches, nausea, dizziness, and her doctor found that her body had absorbed a number of chemicals. There were 22 wells within a two mile radius of the Parrs’ house, the closest being 791 feet away.

No surprise, the attorneys for Aruba stated that Aruba had complied with all state regulations and that the jury’s verdict was inconsistent with the evidence. To the Aruba attorneys, the verdict was an anomaly.

It’s hard to say what this case will mean for fracking in general, and its’ easy to speculate about the evidence that was presented and whether the jury made the right decision, but here’s what we know. First, the only people who sat through the entire trial and listened to all the testimony and saw all the evidence were the people sitting in that jury box. Second, regardless of what critics of the jury system may say, juries work hard to do the right thing, and they only award large sums when they are outraged over someone’s conduct. Third, the party who loses always thinks the decision reached by the jury or judge was wrong; that’s human nature.

Fourth, while vertical fracking has been around for many years, horizontal fracking is new, and the amount of horizontal fracking that now goes on is significant. There is plenty of evidence of harm from fracking in Pennsylvania and New York that should give everyone cause to be cautious about fracking. The problem is that fracking produces energy and jobs, and the promise of those benefits usually drowns out concerns about the environment and safety.

I sense there’s more potential for harm out there than the industry wants to admit. Fracking is here to stay, no doubt, and the industry will always tell us that fracking is safe.  We would be foolish not to be cautious.

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Discussion

  1. Donna Hubis  July 23, 2014

    From all the research I have seen on fracking, it is extremely harmful to the environment as well as the people unfortunate enough to live close to the areas where these operations are progressing. While fracking may help the cause of energy independence for the United States, I find it hard to believe that with all the scientific resources available for research the decision has been made by the oil industry that this is the way to go. More likely, it is the easiest and most profitable way for them to extract oil and earn billions.

    Why isn’t more money devoted to finding a non-petroleum energy source that would most likely be more efficient and less harmful to both people and the environment? When are we going to stop sitting back and just accepting that the easiest choice is the best, and that nothing can be done to stop it? The US needs to wake up and face the fact that huge windfalls of profit always have a down side – only in the case of fracking – this downside is the most potentially harmful yet. We will all pay for following the easy way out of the energy crisis we could all be facing shortly. Wake up, people!

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