Exxon CEO: Don't frack in my backyard
The CEO of ExxonMobil – the top producer of natural gas in the US – has joined a lawsuit that challenges the construction of a water tower connected to hydraulic fracturing operations near his Texas home, given that it may reduce the property value.
CEO Rex Tillerson and other plaintiffs claim the hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – project will cause unwanted noise and traffic associated with trucking water from the 160-foot tower to the drilling site, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The tower will provide water “to oil and gas explorers for fracing [sic] shale formations leading to traffic with heavy trucks on FM 407, creating a noise nuisance and traffic hazards,” according to the lawsuit. The water tower is owned by Cross Timbers Water Supply Corporation.
Tillerson’s lawyer claims the noise, traffic, and actual fracking does not bother the ExxonMobil CEO, stating that it is the possible depreciation of his $5 million property in Bartonville, Texas that he is worried about.
Fracking is the controversial process of injecting water, sand, and various chemicals into layers of rock, in hopes of releasing oil and gas deep underground. Fracking in a single well can take millions of gallons of freshwater.
Tillerson himself has excoriated fracking regulations amid the practice’s boom across the country.
“This type of dysfunctional regulation is holding back the American economic recovery, growth, and global competitiveness,” he said in 2012, Reuters reported.
In another 2012 interview - with the Council on Foreign Relations - Tillerson said that natural gas production today has been revamped with new technologies, “so the risks are very manageable.”
Yet fracking’s popularity with energy behemoths like ExxonMobil is finding resistance across the US based on more than property values and noise complaints.
Fracking is exhausting water supplies in areas of the country that are suffering from chronic shortages, including Texas.
The practice has also been linked to an upsurge of earthquakes in many areas of the nation.
A recent study showed that the fetus of pregnant woman living within a 10-mile range of a fracking well is in much greater danger of congenital heart defects (CHD) and neural tube defects (NTD).
Another recent study found that chemicals used in fracking are suspected of being endocrine disruptors, which “could raise the risk of reproductive, metabolic, neurological and other diseases, especially in children who are exposed to” the materials.
On Thursday, a letter signed by over 1,000 doctors and health professionals was sent by Environment America to President Barack Obama, highlighting many other damaging health and environmental effects associated with fracking.
The group’s concerns about fracking included drinking water contamination, carcinogenic air pollution, acute and chronic health effects, and greenhouse gas emissions.
“Given this toll of damage, the prudent and precautionary response would be to stop fracking,” the letter reads. “Instead, the oil and gas industry is seeking to expand fracking at a frenzied pace, even into areas that provide drinking water for millions of Americans.”
Those living within a half-mile of a fracking site “had a higher excess lifetime risk of developing cancer than people living farther away,” the letter says.
For its part, ExxonMobil told The Wall Street Journal that it “has no involvement” in Tillerson’s lawsuit.
As ThinkProgress points out, there is reason to believe that Exxon’s oil and gas development projects have compromised human health and the environment, much less hurt property values.
One recent example is the company’s spill of up to 7,000 barrels of tar sands oil in a neighborhood of Mayflower, Arkansas nearly one year ago. Locals are still suffering from dizziness, headaches, and nausea – prompting many to move away if their homes aren’t already severely damaged.
“I have friends who still live here. They don’t have a place to go. They have small children...and they’re all sick,” one Mayflower resident told RT recently.
ExxonMobil pays Tillerson $40.3 million a year.