An Exxon CEO joins a Fracking Lawsuit – that’s news you don’t read every day. “Do unto others, then cut out,” is the Malthusian motto for most natural gas frackers. It’s fun to frack somebody else’s property, but maybe not so much when someone fracks your own. Witness ExxonMobil’s CEO Rex Tillerson. A longtime pro-fracking cheerleader who, like most corporate heroes, likes to rail against regulation of any kind, Mr. Tillerson objects to fracking only when it touches him personally. The Wall Street Journal reported in February 2014 that Mr. Tillerson joined a lawsuit to stop a fracking supply company from building a tower that could hurt the Exxon head’s $5 Million property values. The tower is meant to supply water to a nearby fracking site.
Frack Me? Frack You!
But before one draws any conclusions regarding what might, at first blush, appear to be air so thick with hypocrisy that it could be difficult for a proper Christian to breathe, one must appreciate Mr. Tillerson’s keenly nuanced position in regard to the lawsuit he joined with plaintiffs who argue the fracking in their neighborhood would cause too much noise and traffic from hauling the water from the tower to the drilling site. The Cross Timbers Water Supply Corporation’s 160-foot tower slated for construction near the CEO’s wife’s Texas house, reports WSJ, “will 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,” according to the suit.
Hypocrisy? Hell No! It’s about Property Values.
Exxon’s position as the biggest natural gas fracker/producer in the U.S. would appear to put Mr. Tillerson at cross purposes. But it can all be explained away by the CEO’s lawyer, who deftly clarifies that his client’s concerns are not the hysterical cries of some earth cookie concerned for his health or some tree hugger worried about the “environment.” Mr. T’s sole concern is the devaluation of his property “values.”
CEO by Day, Homeowner by Night
Thinkprogress.org reports that when Mr. T is acting as Exxon CEO and not as a homeowner, he has tongue lashed fracking critics and proponents of regulation. “This type of dysfunctional regulation is holding back the American economic recovery, growth, and global competitiveness,” he said in 2012. (Natural gas production) “is an old technology just being applied, integrated with some new technologies,” he said in another interview. “So the risks are very manageable.'”
Fracking good for the Poor, Bad for the Rich
Thinkprogress also reports that in some shale regions, residents less wealthy than the Exxon CEO have objected to fracking for harms they judge to be worse than noise and property value losses, including water contamination and cancer risk: “Exxon’s oil and gas operations and the resulting spills not only sinks property values, but the spills have leveled homes and destroyed regions.”
Exxon pays Mr. Tillerson $40.3 million per year. A company spokesperson told WSJ it “has no involvement in the legal matter.”
Welcome to the Fight, Mr. Exxon CEO
Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) offered Mr. Tillerson a laurel with this statement:
I would like to officially welcome Rex to the ‘Society of Citizens Really Enraged When Encircled by Drilling’ (SCREWED). This select group of everyday citizens has been fighting for years to protect their property values, the health of their local communities, and the environment. We are thrilled to have the CEO of a major international oil and gas corporation join our quickly multiplying ranks.