ProPublica reports on an impressively bold gambit by EQT, a natural gas company that conducts fracking operations in Pennsylvania:
[EQT] offered all of the households along Cardox Road $50,000 in cash if they would agree to release the company from any legal liability, for current operations as well as those to be carried out in the future. It covered potential health problems and property damage, and gave the company blanket protection from any kind of claim over noise, dust, light, smoke, odors, fumes, soot, air pollution or vibrations.
The maneuver was a response to complaints from residents of Finleyville, a town not far from Pittsburgh, about quality-of-life issues (noise, odor) and potential health concerns created by nearby wells. (It appears that some of the affected residents were among the “leaseholders” who had signed over property for fracking in the first place.)
A family in Texas who claim that a fracking operation caused them significant health problems was awarded $2.9 million in a recent lawsuit, while the “wastewater injection” process for disposing of fracking byproducts has been linked to an increase in earthquakes. The long-term public health consequences of fracking have not been researched extensively.