The first rule of fracking is: Don’t talk about fracking

From Grist:

By Claire Thompson
2 Aug 2013

The Hallowich children were just 7 and 10 years old when their family received a $750,000 settlement to relocate away from their home in Mount Pleasant, Penn., which was next door to a shale-gas drilling site. By the time they’re grown up, they may not remember much about what it was like to live there — the burning eyes, sore throats, headaches, and earaches they experienced thanks to contaminated air and water. And maybe it’s better if they don’t remember, since they’re prohibited from talking about the experience for the rest of their lives.

The terms of Stephanie and Chris Hallowich’s settlement with Range Resources included, like most such settlements do, a non-disclosure agreement preventing them from discussing their case or gas drilling and fracking in general. But the agreement’s extension to their children is unprecedented; one assistant law professor at the University of Pittsburgh called it “over-the-top.”

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports:

According to the transcript [of the settlement hearing], the Hallowichs’ attorney, Peter Villari, said that in 30 years of practicing law he never had seen a nondisclosure agreement that included minor children.

And, although he advised the Hallowichs to accept the settlement, he questioned if the children’s First Amendment rights could be restricted by such an agreement.

According to Villari, the settlement wouldn’t have gone forward unless the couple also signed a document stating their health was not affected by drilling operations. So all the record will show, as a spokesperson for Range Resources put it, is that “clearly the Hallowichs were not in an ideal situation in terms of their lifestyle. They had an unusual amount of activity around them. We didn’t want them in that situation.” Man, if you could get $750,000 just for having an “unusual amount of activity” near your home — say, the construction of some microapartments — development-related NIMBYism would cease to exist.

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