Clash of the Titans – Insurers vs. Frackers

No, I am not referring to the impending Bush/ Clinton race next year. I am referring to an interesting court case which is developing in Oklahoma. While the fracking industry has denied that the underground disposal of fracking wastewater has been causing earthquakes, the science has been very compelling. Without even being a scientist, Oklahoma had “count on one hand” earthquakes per year and now in fracking areas, there are multiple hundreds of quakes per year. Yet, the industry was able to use its might to squelch scientific reports that said this by state officials who govern these things.

Well, this titan is now facing a new competitor that happens to be another titan – the insurance industry. You see, the earthquakes have been causing personal and business property damage. So, people who have been so devastated are filing claims with their insurance companies to pay natural disaster rebuilding expenses. But, the insurance companies are saying not so fast. These are not your run of the mill natural disasters and are known to be “caused by” not just correlated with the deep underground disposal of fracking wastewater. So, since the frackers knew this and made an effort to cover up the findings, the fracking industry should be culpable for these claims and not the insurance companies.

Rather than go in to more detail, suffice it to say, we are talking real money here with multiple hundreds of earthquakes and the precedence it sets for other claims elsewhere. And, the fracking industry is not going up against a landowner who they can outgun in court. They are opposing another titan who happens to have a very good argument. There is much more to come. My guess is the fracking industry will want to settle this quickly to avoid the press over what they knew and did not heed. However, they would need to tighten the settlement to limit the precedence. But, I find it interesting nonetheless, as this is a clash of titans who have a lot to win or lose.

8 thoughts on “Clash of the Titans – Insurers vs. Frackers

  1. Yeah! I hate to root for insurance companies, but in this case, I just might have to. It’s about time Frackers got their stats checked. This is so reminiscent of federal authorities censoring global warming science. Great post.

    • Thanks Linda. It will be interesting. The key to me is when you know a thing is causing something and continue to do it, that should be considered malfeasance. Kind of the opposite of the Precautionary Principle.

  2. You are spot on. This will be settled out of court with damages paid by the fracking industry to keep the issue buried (sorry for the pun!) The idea here is that if we don’t talk about it, it never happened. Or if folks find out it happened, lie about it. But the deeper problem, it seems to me is that the general public has been made suspicious of science and scientists. To get at THIS problem we would have to educate people about the difference between scientific fact, which is undeniable, and opinions which are deniable and often far from the truth. Too many people think that all truth is just a matter of opinion that can be accepted or not depending on whether it fits in with one’s belief system. To use your term, scientific truth that is uncomfortable is dismissed as “cognitively dissonant.” It needs to be pointed out that uncomfortable truths are still true!

    • Hugh, excellent comments. I will write soon about “Merchants of Doubt,” but one of the most disturbing things about the movie was scientists who are doing their job challenging their own data and results to make sure they are correct are getting daily death threats in emails. One of the PR folks, who worked for Senator Snowball, actually took pride in sending emails. He is one the talking heads that has been on the Fox News circuit. He admits to not being truthful in the movie, but he does not care. When he gets side by side with a scientist, he boils his arguments into sound/ video bites that sell his argument better than the scientist can. As we know, just because someone can argue better, does not make their argument correct. Thanks, BTG

      PS added later – here is a link to an online article from a San Antonio news source about the film:

      • The sparring of talking heads…. A battle of show and facts… Is this the modern day version of the gladiator games? A show for the people, with less bloodshed but very high stakes.

      • Daphne, it could be, as unless individuals can afford an attorney, the industry on any issue will out spend them. This is a key reason, the fossil fuel industry does not want class action suits. The stories are too compelling. Unfortunately, there are too few Erin Brockovich stories. Thanks, BTG

        PS – I saw where VT had three of the top 50 greenest colleges. Lot of good things happen your way.

  3. Note to Readers: This is worthy of its own post, but we need to ask more “why” questions of our leaders. The above is a good example. Why would a leader make it an offense if someone whose position is contrary to the leader’s argument uttered the words “climate change” or “global warming?” If the contrary position’s argument is in the wrong, why would you make it a crime for a state official to utter these words? Think about that for a moment. If the leader’s position is correct, then he or she should welcome the argument.

    The correct answer is when a leader goes out of their way to squelch debate through restricting verbiage, then that means the leader’s argument is not sound as it should be. It is akin to labeling things or naming things with derogatory terms, so the validity of the argument is questioned – oh, he is just s tree hugger. Oh, he is just a liberal. Or, one that is revealed in the movie “Merchants of Doubt.” he is a watermelon – green on the outside and red (socialist or communist) on the inside. Glenn Beck loved this one and cut open a watermelon for all to see why climate change cannot be happening, as people who believe it is such are watermelons. Thanks for the lucid counterpoint.

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