Rex Tillerson, ExxonMobil Corp.’s chief executive office (CEO) is one of a group of people suing to block hydraulic fracturing—known as fracking—activities in their neighborhoods. The group also includes House Majority Leader, Dick Armey. Given that both men have long touted fracking, the move has met with significant controversy.
Tillerson joined the lawsuit in an effort to stop construction of a water tower, a critical part of any fracking project, near his Dallas home, according to the Wall Street Journal. Armey (Republican-Texas), is the lawsuit’s lead plaintiff. The group says it is concerned that property values will be adversely impacted by the increased noise pollution and traffic that come with fracking, according to The Washington Examiner.
Mr. and Mrs. Dick Armey are not only among the lawsuit’s lead plaintiffs, Dick Armey is the former Chairman of FreedomWorks, a group financed, in part, by the Koch Brothers. FreedomWorks is a Tea Party organization that actively and vocally supports fracking, according to Forbes. Meanwhile, when reporting on a 2012 legislative hearing in North Carolina concerning fracking in the state, Facing South noted that, “Other pro-fracking proponents included activists with FreedomWorks” who repeated the “slogan—“Shale YES! —that was also emblazoned on their T-shirts and the signs some waved outside the civic center before the hearing.”
While some people believe fracking is an answer to a troubled economy and energy independence, many point out that fracking drilling places fresh water supplies for millions of people at risk, with risks greater for those living closest to the drilling boom. Those who oppose fracking say that fracking devastates the environment and contaminates groundwater and underground water aquifers, which contaminates nearby and widespread fresh water supplies. Either through the fault of shoddy wells, poorly trained well workers, or a questionable drilling process, natural gas and the contents of the drilling fluid may be released underground through cracks in the wells or fractures created by drilling. This, many area residents closest to wells say, has led to contamination of their private water supplies, in some cases rendering water completely tainted
An ExxonMobil spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that Tillerson joined the lawsuit as a private citizen; however, The Washington Examiner pointed out that ExxonMobil and Tillerson have long defended fracking activities. The Nation noted the dichotomy between Tillerson’s long fight in favor of fracking and his current fight against the fracking water tower planned near his $5 million horse ranch. According to MSNBC’s editor-at-large, Chris Hayes, “Rex Tillerson is leading the fracking revolution, just not in his backyard.” Josh Fox, director of the Oscar-nominated documentary on fracking entitled “Gasland” and its sequel, issued a tweet that stated, “CEO Rex Tillerson has attacked me as a NIMBY [Not in my back yard]. Now he’s suing to keep fracking out of his hood.”
Forbes describes Tillerson as running a “gas superstar” and as being the “largest natural gas producer in these United States of America,” calling Tillerson “a newly emerging giant in the world of hypocrisy.” Consider that one key aspect of Tillerson’s job as CEO is to protect the process of fracking so that Exxon may continue to bring in billions of dollars from natural gas production and sale.
Forbes pointed out that Tillerson has been very vocal criticizing those who oppose fracking activities and seeking regulation of the very controversial process and has said of those seeking fracking regulation that, “This type of dysfunctional regulation is holding back the American economic recovery, growth, and global competitiveness,” Forbes reported.
Fracking drilling involves horizontally injecting tons of silica sand, a massive mix of more than 600 chemicals, and water at least one mile underground via a drill into a concrete well that extends to a bed of shale rock deep beneath the earth’s surface. When this combination reaches the rock, it is blasted apart and natural gas is released and supposed to be returned to the surface and captured; most of the water remains underground.