Where do the rights of Americans stand in regards to clean air, water, and a non-toxic environment? What about where they intersect the nation’s growing need for energy sources and businesses’ rights to pursue that goal? A San Antonio business litigation attorney working with the Eagle Ford Shale knows just how tricky these questions can be. As mounting reports of toxicity associated with hydraulic fracturing gain attention, the voices of concerned citizens bring the questions a sense of urgency in the public, like in this National Geographic article online. But who will answer them?
Findings by journals like Environmental Health that report “potentially dangerous compounds and chemical mixtures” that can induce illness and increase risks of cancer have been found in many areas sampled across five states that are associated with oil and gas production “that were above levels the federal government considers safe for brief or longer-term exposure. Far above, in some cases.” A San Antonio business litigation attorney like Mike Hancock working intensively with Eagle Ford Shale cases would acknowledge that this could have a big impact on Texas oil, if the findings were leveraged and listened-to.
But the track record for Texas to protect individual citizens over big business isn’t great, and especially in the face of the current energy-race where the Eagle Ford Shale is pulling ahead in terms of productivity and increasing cash flow into the South Texas economy, even scientifically rigorously produced, peer-reviewed study results may not find their way as evidence into a courtroom against oil and gas companies in the Lone Star State any time soon.
The study recently published in Environmental Health and reported on by National Geographic isn’t the only evidence that fracking is dangerous when conducted close to humans, a San Antonio business litigation attorney would be obligated to admit. It comes as the latest in a string of studies conducted by various entities (schools of public health, occupational and health science departments at universities, etc). As lawyers working with big energy companies like Hancock would attest to, however, deniability is key. “We have not seen credible studies showing natural gas production causes health effects,” is one statement issued by a spokesman for America’s Natural Gas Alliance, for example.
National Geographic reports how scientists are teaming up with citizens to try to make a difference and force governments and energy companies to pay attention. Sure, with the gas-guzzling lifestyles we keep up, Americans needs more energy—but at what cost, and to whom? A San Antonio business litigation attorney might soon be faced with this question in court, whether representing a citizen-scientist team demanding a change from big oil companies, or defending the companies themselves, reporters for National Geographic see the increasing pressure eventually landing all the concerned parties in a courtroom.
Whose side of the argument will win, in the long term, though, is an answer that probably won’t be determined for decades, and will certainly depend on how many of us get hurt, and how far we continue to want to be able to drive.