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.