I’m going to list my
three five favorite things about this Daily Beast article.
Can You Silence a Child? Inside the Hallowich Case
by Caitlin Dickson Sep 1, 2013 4:45 AM EDT
1. I love the way the fracking scam is summed up in the first paragraph.
For anyone who lives near a natural gas shale, the story of the Hallowich family of Washington County, Pennsylvania, is a familiar one. It begins with a knock on the door from a representative from a multi-billion dollar natural gas company offering an enticing sum of money in exchange for the mineral rights to the land. Then comes the drilling, followed by reports of headaches, or nosebleeds, or worse. Then the legal fees. Then silence.
2. I love the warning to other cities, counties, states and countries given by Doug Shields.
But Pennsylvanians, as well as people sitting on natural gas shales around the country, would soon discover that fracking is unlike anything they’d ever encountered before. By the time Stephanie Hallowich and others complained of headaches and nosebleeds and contaminated water, Shields says, “it was too late for anyone to do anything politically effective.”
3. I love how Matt Pitzarella again disavows that Range intended to gag the children despite the somewhat threatening letter from David Poole who is the Range general counsel. In his letter he admits that–regarding the Hallowich non-disclosure agreement–the buck stops with him. He admits full responsibility for “negotiating and approving the terms.”
Matt Pitzarella objects strongly to the way the story has played out. “To be very clear, the agreement was never intended to be applied to the elementary school aged children,” he wrote in an email to The Daily Beast.
“one of several made by a former outside counsel to Range, who never informed us of the questions surrounding the children. When we learned of it, we immediately sent a letter to the plaintiff’s attorney.” Swetz is no longer employed by the prestigious law firm K&L Gates, where he was working at the time of the Hallowich hearing. He’s also no longer representing Range Resources.
5. But my very favorite thing comes in the last paragraph when the Hallowich lawyer, Peter Villari, sets the record straight about how it went down and that there is an awkward silence in response to his letter inviting the companies involved to withdraw the gag on the children.
Hallowich lawyer Villari doesn’t deny receiving the letter, but he isn’t buying any of it. “There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that the moment [Swetz] opened his mouth he was speaking on Range’s behalf. He did what he was hired to do.” Villari said that he sent a letter in response to Range Resources, MarkWest Energy and Williams Gas/Laurel Mountain Midstream—the companies involved in the original settlement agreement—inviting all of them to enter into a joint stipulation withdrawing the gag order against the children. No one has responded. In fact, other than Range Resources, the rest of the defendants in the agreement have, like the Hallowiches, remained silent.
The Hallowich children are still gagged.