Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is a processes used to release natural gas from brittle rock formations. A new target of this procedure is the Marcellus Shale formation, which is found beneath Pennsylvania and adjacent states. Many experts say that fracking causes serious risks to the environment and to human health.
Unfortunately, we can’t trust the energy industry or the government to protect us. As Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland has remarked, “The industry has failed to meet minimally acceptable performance levels for protecting human health and the environment. That is both an industry failure and a failure of the regulatory agencies.” The problem is especially crucial in Pennsylvania, as Senator Cardin goes on to note: “In June, 2010 the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association identified a total of 1614 violations accrued by 45 Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale drillers, dating to January 2008.”
The courts get involved
Because regulators have failed to act on their own, individual citizens and government have begun to turn to the court system.
In some cases, environmental groups have asked the courts to force government agencies to follow the rules. For instance, in March 2011 a lawsuit was filed to stop sewage plants from spilling the waste water from fracking operations into Pennsylvania rivers. In other cases, we find one level of government asking the courts to force other government agencies to act. For example, the New York Attorney General has sued the federal government for its failure to make a full environmental review of fracking proposals in the Delaware River Basin.
The courts have also been asked to approve local rules against fracking; a notable case is the town of Dryden, New York, which is in court to defend its “no fracking” policy. Hannah Wiseman, an assistant professor at the University of Tulsa College of Law, says that “[c]reative lawsuits have emerged” from governments frustrated by inaction.
Personal injury lawsuits and the fracking controversy
By far, the personal injury lawsuit is the legal tool that has the greatest chance of reforming an out-of-control fracking industry. When the actions of another person or corporation have caused an unjustified harm to one’s body, mind, or emotions, there may be grounds to demand compensation for the injury.
Occasionally, such lawsuits have been used against fracking operations in the United States. Now that there is a rush to exploit the Marcellus Shale, many experts expect that Pennsylvania’s courts will be flooded with fracking lawsuits. Indeed, the first suits by individual Pennsylvania landowners and neighborhoods have been filed, claiming that fracking has contaminated the water supply.
The fracking industry boasts that it has never lost a lawsuit of this type, and so there must not be a serious problem. But some experts say that the industry is quick to settle lawsuits out of court — a settlement doesn’t count as a “loss” — and the results are kept private, so the true evidence of contamination isn’t released to the public.
Ostroff Injury Law is ready to take a leadership position in opposing dangerous fracking practices in Pennsylvania. We see the risk that unrestrained gas mining can make our state a wasteland, destroying agriculture, tourism, and healthy communities alike. We stand ready to help you pursue justice for your legal claim against polluters and greedy energy companies.
Who we are
At Ostroff Injury Law, we focus on personal injury cases. Since the firm was founded in 1993, we have represented thousands of clients and recovered millions of dollars in compensation for personal injury claims. Our Founder and President, Jon Ostroff, has been given an “AV- Preeminent 5 out of 5” rating — representing “the highest level of professional excellence” — in the peer-reviewed Martindale-Hubbell attorney rating system.
Ostroff Injury Law is based in Pennsylvania and we represent fracking accident victims that have been injured throughout the Marcellus Shale Region—from the Allegheny State Forest in McKean County, to the Williamsport area, from Tioga County to small towns like Long Pond, PA. Ostroff Injury Law is the statewide premier Pennsylvania Frackcident Law firm.
Our clients are our neighbors, and we will work tirelessly to obtain justice for our neighbors and our community. Let us help you, too. Call us toll-free at (855)FRACKLAW to arrange a free consultation on your case.