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Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson Joins Lawsuit to Stop Fracking Activity Near His Home

Bartonville : TX : USA | Feb 22, 2014 at 7:22 AM PST

Rex Tillerson
Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson: No fracking near my home

Exxon Mobil Corp. Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson is an ardent proponent of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), but only when it isn’t in his backyard.

According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Tillerson is one of the residents of Bartonville’s wealthy community outside Dallas, Texas, who have filed a suit to block the construction of a 160-foot water tower in their neighborhood that will supply water to fracking sites.

As Tillerson — who became Exxon Mobil CEO in 2006 — knows from the nuisance his company’s fracking activities have caused millions of other landowners across the country, locating a water tower that serves fracking sites in his neighborhood would bring heavy trucks and heavy-duty equipment needed to pump and haul massive amounts water.

The lawsuit by Tillerson and his neighbors complains that the facility being built to “sell water to oil and gas explorers for fracking shale formations” will attract “fracking-related traffic” inflicting “noise nuisance and traffic hazards” on the quiet, peaceful, wealthy neighborhood.

The lawsuit adds eloquently that locating the tower in the exclusive neighborhood would cause “unreasonable discomfort and annoyance to persons of ordinary sensibilities.”

According to The Wall Street Journal, the 15-story concrete “monstrosity,” as the lawsuit describes the 15-story tower at an advanced stage of construction, is located close to the 83-acre horse ranch and 18-acre homestead of Tillerson and his wife.

Tillerson, 61, and his wife are suing in the name of their ranch, Bar RR Ranches LLC. Other plaintiffs in the suit include former US House Majority Leader Dick Armey and his wife.

Tillerson spoke out against constructing the tower at Town Council meetings he attended early last year. He also attended a three-hour deposition on the lawsuit last May and participated in a daylong mediation session in September.

Participants might not have believed that the company he oversees is the biggest hydraulic fracking company in the United States.

However, the lawyer representing the Exxon CEO told the Journal that his client has not personally complained about the noise-nuisance hazard cited in the lawsuit.

According to attorney Michael Witten, “I have other clients who were concerned about the potential for noise and traffic problems, but he’s never expressed that to me or anyone else.”

Whitten wants us to believe that Tillerson still loves fracking. His only concern is that bringing fracking activity to his neighborhood will harm the value of his property, which, according to The Huffington Post, is worth $5 million.

Tillerson explained during a Town Council meeting that he and his wife settled in Bartonville to enjoy peaceful rural life and that he invested millions in the property only after assurance that he could rely on town ordinances to ensure that such activity would not be allowed in the vicinity.

He even threatened to leave town, saying, “I cannot stay in a place where I do not know who to count on and who not to count on.”

Tillerson’s primary focus among issues raised was whether Cross Timbers Water Supply Corp, the nonprofit utility constructing the tower, is bound to comply with local ordinances regulating the location of such projects and whether residents, who relied on the existing ordinances to make property investments in the area, have legally enforceable rights in the circumstances.

Cross Timbers President Patrick McDonald argued that state laws require the utility to increase capacity to serve growing demand for water in the area. The authorities in Bartonville had earlier refused to grant Cross Timbers permission to build a tower in the area, saying the location was meant exclusively for residential purposes.

But in May 2012, a state district court judge ruled that as a public utility, Cross Timbers was exempt from municipal zoning regulations.

The town, backed by Tillerson and his co-plaintiffs, appealed the decision and last March an appellate judge overruled the decision saying the judge had no jurisdiction.

Opinion

Tillerson and his neighbors are fortunate to have the means to bring expensive lawsuits to block fracking activity in their neighborhood.

But what about the millions of poorer Americans who have had to watch helplessly while his company caused not merely noise nuisance and devaluation of property but contaminated drinking water and increased risk of terrible ailments like cancer and neurologic disorders?

Recently, Tillerson’s Exxon Mobil spilled about 7,000 barrels of tar sands oil in Mayflower, Ark., causing damage to the local environment and forcing many to flee their homes as locals began complaining of symptoms including dizziness, headaches and nausea.

Tillerson gets paid $40.3 million a year to wreak such havoc in other people’s lives while he only has to worry about the value of his property, a fraction of annual pay.

This is Tillerson lambasting others who don’t want his company fracking in their backyards: “This type of dysfunctional regulation is holding back the American economic recovery, growth and global competitiveness.”

During an interview with the Council on Foreign Relations in 2012, he lectured anti-fracking nuts: “[Natural gas production] is an old technology just being applied, integrated with some new technologies. So the risks are very manageable.”

Manageable, it seems, only when its miles away from his property.

There is one way to express disgust at the hypocrisy of the type of ruinous capitalism Tillerson represents: Reach for a barf bag.

JOHNTHOMAS DIDYMUS is based in Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.

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