Federal and State Legal Systems Shield Fracking Industry Versus Landowners

by Duane Nichols on February 24, 2013

Hagy Farm, Jackson County, WV

Federal and State Legal System Shields Fracking Industry Versus Landowners

From article by Laurel Peltier on GreenLaurel.com, February 21, 2013

The Hagys’ water contamination lawsuit demonstrates how the natural gas industry has built a near-perfect “federal legal exemption’s framework” that when combined with lax or absent state regulations and the legal system’s high costs, inherently approves of citizen collateral damage with no restitution.

The consequence of this framework is that the burden of proof is placed on plaintiffs who, at best, are forced to settle with natural gas companies, thereby sealing the case from public scrutiny, scientific examination and legal precedence. Because the Hagys didn’t sign a non-disclosure agreement with the natural gas companies involved, their legal case gives the public a rare window into how fracking lawsuits play out in reality.

Natural gas is a critical resource. Fifty-percent of American residences use natural gas. Natural gas is seen by some as a bridge fuel essential to the United State’s strategy to gain energy independence from foreign oil imports. Yet we must ask ourselves: Is the current fracking system one we should support? Are changes needed to level the playing field for all parties involved in fracking? Can fracking be done safely?

Dusty and Tamera Hagy unwittingly fell into the fracking trap the day they bought their land in 1989.

“We loved our 81-acre property, it was our life. We had paid off the mortgage and spent a lot of money fixing the place up. We raised our two boys there, buried our animals there and were planning to give our boys some property,” said Dusty Hagy.

Mineral rights, fracking chemicals and natural gas federal environmental laws were all Greek to the Hagy family before a pleasant Equitable Production Company representative visited the couple in October 2007.

In West Virginia, surface land ownership is separate from mineral rights. Mineral rights are the portion of the profits received from minerals extracted from land. Another party owns the Hagy property’s mineral rights which were were granted hundreds of years ago. The Hagy family receives no gas royalties and didn’t sign a formal gas leasing contract, though, they did sign plenty of “papers” believing they did not have a choice.

Much more on this story to be found HERE.  The VIDEO titled “Hagy Fracking Lawsuit 2:12:13″ is available on YouTube.  See also the WV Surface Owners Rights Organization HERE.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Laurel Peltier February 24, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Hi readers of FrackWV- Thank you for reading the article and I wanted to point out that the last picture shown in my article is another W Virginian’s property; Stacie and Casey Griffith on Plum Run in Marion County. There are many pictures of the Hagy’s property in the video and article of their fracking issues.

I realized I was unclear in including this photo from the W Virginia Surface Owner’s Rights Org. To me, this picture is shocking that an industrial zone could wrap around anyone’s home, especially a beautiful home that clearly includes children. This photo supports the main point of the article that lax state regulations allow insane activity like this and if any issues arose, fair restitution is almost impossible because of the federal exemptions, lop-sided contracts and high legal costs. Thanks.


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