by Leah Barron
on October 26, 2012
Think the fracking controversy doesn’t affect you? Think again. The controversial method of extracting natural gas from shale has spread across 31 states, potentially endangering water sources for millions. Fueled by record profits, the natural gas industry has powered through any attempt to impose adequate safety rules on wells – or even require the disclosure of what toxic chemicals companies may be shooting into the ground.
The civil justice system may ultimately prove to be the pivotal weapon in this battle over public health and safety. The power of personal injury lawsuits cannot be underestimated when it comes to getting an industry’s attention. Think BP. The company has been forced to set aside at least $20 billion to clean up the Gulf of Mexico and affected shorelines, and to compensate those they hurt.
Lawsuits against companies using fracking are piling up in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. One result is that in July 2012, a major industry insurer, Nationwide, announced it would no longer insure fracking operations. This month, environmentalists in California filed suit to stop fracking activity in their state until regulations are adopted to ensure the safety of public water supplies.
As an environmental attorney, I regularly deal first-hand with the consequences of corporate recklessness. I see the way unrestrained companies pursuing profits can turn communities into wastelands – destroying health, agriculture, water resources, tourism, property values and livelihoods. When regulators and politicians are overwhelmed by industry lobbyists and donors, the civil justice system can be a powerful check against abuse by these companies.
The Environmental Division of Janet, Jenner & Suggs advocates for individuals, communities and governments affected by toxic pollution such as fracking. Our attorneys and staff have handled cases dealing with environmental hazards and the medical and property damage it causes. If you feel you have been affected by toxic pollution such as fracking, contact my office.
Leah K. Barron is an associate focusing her practice on environmental and toxic tort litigation. Ms. Barron has worked for several non–profit environmental organizations and graduated from Harvard Law School. READ FULL BIO