Drinking Water, Fracking, Pipelines, Eminent Domain, and Value$

by Duane Nichols on March 12, 2016

Our message is clear, our water should be

Personal and Property Values in the Countryside and in the Fracking Zones

Essay by S. Tom Bond, Retired Chemistry Professor & Resident Farmer, Lewis County, WV

There is an important point here which is easily overlooked.  The value of property (or friends or anything you like) is not the same as a corporation values it. What a jury of peers does is to value property according to community values – the value as the neighbors understand it, not how the aggressor sees it!

What the Elys and the Huberts have done is a great thing for all of us – they refused the minimal value offered by the corporation to their neighbors and took the risk of going to court.  This showed publically how the neighborhood valued their property, its singular and personal value. (Reference is to the Dimock jury award of $4.2 million described by FrackCheckWV.net yesterday.)

You think my wife isn’t worth more to me than she would be worth on the open market?  She is 79, grey and somewhat bent, but we get along.  I don’t want to adapt to another, and I’d like to keep her around.  It’s the same with my farm – I’ve been here for 52 years, I know about it’s past back to the ones who got the land grants, I know what it can do, and I remember a lifetime of what has gone on here.  I have heirs who are interested in working it.  Of course it is worth more to me than to a stranger.

What if someone comes along and takes it for his profit.  (Rest assured, he makes his effort for profit, not for the public good, otherwise it would be cheaper for the public by the amount of his profit.)  Corporations are notorious for their single value, one of the huge ways they are not “persons.”  Remember Rex Tillson and the water tower?  Rex is CEO of Exxon and when they put up a water tower in his sight, he joined the suit to have it removed.  See here.

Almost all personal property is worth more because people don’t use it just for profit.   If the compensation is the single value of  ”market worth,”  people get cheated.

There is an element of class warfare in fracking.  Few people who aspire to become rich by investment are genuinely democratic (small d, of course).  Probably even less who jump into the hassle of making big incomes.  Their values and ours don’t match.   Laura Legere of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette records this revealing claim about the Eley-Hubert lawyer: ” Cabot’s attorney Jeremy Mercer described it as a calculated effort “to throw skunks into the jury box.”

Class warfare indeed.  Who would be interested in anything but making money?  Should enjoying life, appreciating the people around you and preserving the good world around us be considered worthwhile values?

Should we preserve and protect the rights that go with our private property, and say together “no eminent domain for corporate gain.”


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Tom Bond March 12, 2016 at 12:41 pm

Dimock PA Families Awarded $4.2 Million in Drinking Water Jury Trial

Probably the best article on what happened at Dimmock is here:

Pennsylvania was “spread eagle” for fracking long before anyone knew what it was like.  The companies lied, the PA-DEP was complicit, no one wanted to see what the facts were.  Dimmock residents were given no respect.

The priceless gem in this article is a picture of a report of the PA-DEP on Cabot Oil & Gas, showing 312 inspection with 610 violations and 110 enforcements.


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