Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson Cries NIMBY and Sues the Frackers

Rex Tillerson is the chairman, president, and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation. Under Tillerson’s leadership Exxon acquired XTO Energy, making Exxon the biggest natural gas producer in the U.S.

Go ahead, look it up.  I’ll wait.  And here is some “About” text from the XTO web site you can confirm:

XTO Energy Inc. was founded in 1986 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Safely and responsibly extracting natural gas from U.S. shale and other tight formations is our principal business. We also produce crude oil and natural gas liquids in the United States.

We’re the nation’s largest holder of natural gas reserves, and we have one of the highest drilling success rates in the industry.

We operate throughout the United States, from the Great Plains to Appalachia. You’ll find us in places such as Montana and Pennsylvania, Utah and Louisiana, and Texas and Ohio. We own interests in approximately 40,000 producing oil and natural gas wells across the country.

XTO Energy Inc. and Exxon Mobil Corporation merged in 2010.

In March 2013, Rex and his wife, in conjunction with five other well-to-do neighboring couples from Bartonville, Texas, filed a lawsuit.  According to petition No. 2012-30982-211 filed in the district court of Denton County, Texas, Rex and Renda live on their Bartonville ranch, named Bar RR Ranches, LLC, which has a fair market value in excess of $5 million.


Why? The plaintiffs wish to enjoin the water company from building a 750,000 gallon water tower that “will loom over the Plaintiffs properties at a height of 160 feet – the equivalent of a 16 story building.” And furthermore, the plaintiffs claim the water company intends to “sell water to oil and gas explorers for fracing shale formations leading to traffic with heavy trucks on FM 407, creating a noise nuisance and traffic hazards.”

We certainly are sympathetic to the Tillersons’ and their neighbors’ fears, honest American citizens, Texans moreover, with ordinary sensibilities wishing to simply live their lives in peace, quite, and good health in their own homes/ranches. Or as they most eloquently put it: Continue reading

Fracking’s most horrifying health risks (Salon: 12/03/12)

New York State’s Department of Health is finally assessing the dangers — but is there time to address them?

BY ALTERNETFracking's most horrifying health risks(Credit: AP/Ed Andrieski)

The good news is that a public health department— New York State’s Department of Health (DOH)— is finally undertaking an assessment of fracking’s likely health risks. The bad news is that it’s questionable whether it will allow adequate time to do a credible and complete job. Continue reading


Grassroots Environmental Education prepared this list of studies for Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, July, 2012.

1. Natural Gas Operations from a Public Health Perspective (Colborn, Kwiatkowski, Schultz, Bachran) Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, Sept. 2011 
2. Impacts of Gas Drilling on Human and Animal Health (Bamberger, Oswald) New Solutions, 2012 
3. Local Experiences Related to the Marcellus Shale Industry (Covey) Troy Community Hospital, Bradford, PA – Power Point document
4. Battlement Mesa Draft HIA (Colorado School of Public Health) February 2011 
5. Fatalities Among Oil and Gas Extraction Workers — United States 2003-2006 (Node, Conway) CDC MMR Weekly April 2008 
6. Chemical and Biological Risk Assessment for Natural Gas Extraction in New York (Bishop) March 2011 

7. Potential Contaminant Pathways from Hydraulically Fractured Shale of Aquifers (Myers) National Ground Water Association. Ground Water, April 2012 
8. Methane Contamination of Drinking Water Accompanying Gas-Well Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing(Osborn, Vengosh, Warner, Jackson) PNAS 2011
9. Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Water Resources (Swackhamer, University of Minnesota) – Power Point document 
10. Investigation of Ground Water Contamination near Pavillion, Wyoming (draft) – (Summary only) (DiGiulio, Wilkin, Miller, Oberly) Environmental Protection Agency, 2011 
11. Geochemical Evidence For Possible Natural Migration of Marcellus Formation Brine to Shallow Aquifers in Pennsylvania (Warner, Jackson, Darrah, Osborn, Down, Zhao, White, Vengosh) Proceedings of the National Academies of Science of the United States 2012 
12. Water Pollution Risk Associated with Natural Gas Extraction from the Marcellus Shale (Rozell and Reaven) Risk Analysis, August 2012 and link to the attached rozell and reaven study. 

13. Human Health Risk Assessment of Air Emissions from Development of Unconventional Natural Gas Resources (McKenzie, Witter, Newman, Adgate) Colorado School of Public Health, 2012 
14. Air Pollutant Emissions from Shale Gas Development and Production (Robinson, Carnegie Mellon) – Power Point document 

15. Methane and the Greenhouse Gas Footprint of Natural Gas from Shale Formations (Howarth, Santoro, Ingraffea) Climate Change, 2011 
16. Venting and Leaking of Methane from Shale Gas Development: Response to Cathles et al (Howarth, Santoro, Ingraffea) Climate Change, 2012 
17. Coal To Gas: The Influence of Methane Leakage (Wigley) Climate Change, August 2011 

18. History of Oil and Gas Well Abandonment in New York (Link not available) (Bishop) SUNY College at Oneonta, 2012 
19. Radium Content of Oil- and Gas-Field Produced Waters in the Northern Appalachian Basin (Rowan, Engle, Kirby, Kraemer) USGS 2011 

Additional Recommended Resources

The documents contained in this digest are the property of the copyright owners and are reprinted for educational purposes only. Compilation prepared by Grassroots Environmental Education.

Fracking’s dangers for workers (Institute for Southern Studies: 5/2012)

Facing South

X-ray showing lungs affected by silicosis by Gumersindorego via Wikipedia.

Number of workers employed by the U.S. oil and gas extraction industry: 435,000

Percent of those workers employed by well servicing companies, including those that conduct hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” for natural gas: almost 50

Occupational deaths in the oil and gas extraction industry from 2003 to 2003 2009 per 100,000 workers: 27.5

Number of times that rate exceeds the fatality rate for all U.S. workers: more than 7

Percent by which fatalities among oil and gas workers rose from 2003 to 2005, as the drilling boom accelerated: 15

Rank of highway crashes among the top causes of fatalities in the industry: 1

Number of oil and gas workers killed in highway crashes over the past decade: more than 300

Of the 648 oil and gas field worker deaths from 2003 to 2008 alone, portion that were due to highway crashes: 1/3

Portion of workplace fatalities accounted for by highway crashes across all industries in 2010:1/5

Length of shifts in hours that oil and gas field workers are routinely pressured into working by employers who cite longstanding regulatory exemptions enjoyed by the industry: 20

The legal limit of workshifts for most commercial truckers, in hours: 14

Of the 2,200 oil and gas industry trucks inspected from 2009 to February 2012 by state police in Pennsylvania, the epicenter of the fracking boom, percent that were in such poor condition they had to be taken off the road: 40

Number of fracking sites where the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently collected air samples to evaluate worker exposure to crystalline silica, which is present in the “frac sand” used in the natural gas extraction process and causes silicosis (shown in X-ray above), an incurable lung disease: 11

Percent of the tested fracking sites where workers’ exposure to respirable crystalline silica exceed occupational health limits: 100

Percent of crystalline silica that typically makes up “frac sand”: 100

Pounds of sand typically used to frack a single well: up to 4 million

Percent of the 116 air samples collected that exceeded the NIOSH recommended exposure limit by a factor of 10 or more, rendering the use of half-mask air-purifying respirators insufficiently protective: 31

Date on which two workers were hurt in an explosion at a fracking tank site in Texas: 5/16/2012

Number of months before the explosion that the site’s owner, Vann Energy Services LLC, was cited for 17 serious health and safety violations: 3

Date on which the AFL-CIO wrote a letter to federal labor officials expressing concern about serious safety and health risks faced by workers in the fracking industry and calling for better protections: 5/22/2012

Percent change in the number of drilling rigs from 2010 to 2011: +22

Percent change in the number of inspections at those work sites: -12

(Click on figure to go to source. X-ray showing lungs affected by silicosis by Gumersindoregovia Wikipedia.)

Gas field workers cited in Pa. hospital’s losses (12/24/12:AP)

Dec 24, 2012: Written by Associated Press

JERSEY SHORE, Pa. – The first operating loss in about five years at a north-central Pennsylvania hospital is a sign of the influx of natural gas field workers without health insurance, the facility’s CEO said.

Jersey Shore Hospital president and CEO Carey Plummer told the Sun-Gazette of Williamsport that many subcontractors attracted to the area’s Marcellus Shale drilling boom do not cover employees.

That has brought a growing number of uninsured people to the community-owned, nonprofit hospital, Plummer said.

“We had a loss,” Plummer said. “I don’t think it’s a sign of the economy. I think it’s the influx of the gas, industry and those who lack insurance.”

The hospital reported an operating loss of $770,000 while providing more than $3 million in care to people unable to pay in its most recent fiscal year. The uncompensated care figure is the highest it has ever seen.

Other significant factors contributing to the hospital’s losses include cuts in Medicaid reimbursements, employee salary increases and higher pension costs, Plummer said.

Jersey Shore is about 65 miles north of Pennsylvania’s capital of Harrisburg. The hospital says its service area covers about 45,000 people in Clinton and Lycoming counties. It reported 3,260 acute care days, 67,691 outpatient visits and 14, 835 emergency room visits in the most recent fiscal year.

With about 660 wells, Lycoming County is the fourth most heavily drilled county in the Marcellus Shale rush that began in earnest in 2008, according to state records. The footprint in Clinton County is smaller, with just under 100 since then. The state’s two most heavily drilled counties, Tioga and Bradford, are neighbors of Lycoming County.


  • An example of the negative economic impact that drilling can have on a local economy. It is definitely not as simple as some portray it, that drilling brings jobs with no downside. Also shows that many of the jobs that are created are with subcontractors who don’t offer benefits and don’t pay well enough for the employees to pay for their own health care.
  • What are the Health Issues all of these uninsured Gas Workers are going to the hospital for?
  • Is this something the public should be alerted about? This would be a worthwhile follow up story for this article. Michael Holmstrom ·
  • Wow, the energy industry commercials made it sound like they make high paying jobs, so why does this happen? Marianne Waldow ·
  • Fracking benefits the gas industry’s profits and nothing else. Overall, fossil fuel addiction will speed climate change and increase severe, erratic weather patterns. Most fracking well construction jobs go to out of state workers and they apparently are not benefiting as much as the industry would have us believe. The water, air and land are poisoned by the fracking process, and excessive amounts of water, which would do more good for drinking and farming, are used in the process. And here is demonstrated another negative impact of fracking. Brian Oram
  • It would be nice to have more details about all the costs that impacted the bottom line. William Henry ·
  • They make good money and should be charged or put a lean on there employer.


Fracking Our Food Supply

Read the article by Elizabeth Royte in the December 17, 2012 edition of The Nation

Excerpt: “In Louisiana, seventeen cows died after an hour’s exposure to spilled fracking fluid. (Most likely cause of death: respiratory failure.) In north central Pennsylvania, 140 cattle were exposed to fracking wastewater when an impoundment was breached. Approximately seventy cows died; the remainder produced eleven calves, of which only three survived. In western Pennsylvania, an overflowing waste pit sent fracking chemicals into a pond and a pasture where pregnant cows grazed: half their calves were born dead.”

Before & After: Bakken Cattle
Cattle on the Schilke ranch in North Dakota, before and after fracking on neighboring land. –from The Nation article

Dr. Sandra Steingraber’s press statement on health review

With thanks to Richard Averett for posting info about Concerned Health Professionals of New York, here is my entire statement from the press conference today in Albany with Barbara LIfton, Matt Ryan, Walter Hang, and Roger Downs of the Sierra Club.  I haven’t seen any media coverage yet.  Sandra

Prepared Remarks, Albany Press Conference, “Cuomo Puts the Cart Before the Horse on Fracking—Elected Officials, Leading Environmental and Health Experts Call on Cuomo to Open Health Review to the Public,” Dec. 3, 2012

 I am Sandra Steingraber, biologist at Ithaca College 

 I saw some of you last Thursday when I was here to announce the launch of Concerned Health Professionals of New York—an initiative of doctors, nurses, and environmental health researchers. 

 Concerned Health Professionals was launched in response to the secrecy of the ongoing health review, the exclusion of New York State’s own public health experts in the process, and Governor Cuomo’s rejection of our unified demand for a transparent, comprehensive Health Impact Assessment. Continue reading