dunceI often wonder if anybody actually reads our modest, quasi-weekly offerings. They do! And they respond! To criticize!  I earn my keep being “critiqued” by impatient judges, aggressive opposing counsel and, occasionally, less-than-happy clients, so – challenge accepted.

“Critique” One:

Lipsky was not Range’s lessor, therefor I know nothing about the case. Surely, this person lives in my house, where I enjoy a long history of knowing nothing about anything. (Memo to self: check progress on subpoena for kids’ “sent” box). And the inquisitor is as adept as my beloved family in drawing expansive and incorrect conclusions from meager evidence.

As for Mr. Lipsky, he was a nearby landowner and not a lessor.  But the point – and the lesson – remain the same: His big mouth spread accusations that Range says are untrue. Range wanted to put a stop to it and was partially rebuked. Whether against a lessor or a stranger, it will be more difficult than in the past for anyone to use litigation as a tool to quash criticism.

“Critique” Two:

The EPA did not find Lipsky’s claims to be false, says our inquisitor. To evaluate this one, let’s use the time-honored, citizen-friendly, and court-validated process invoked by the TCPA: Can the reader draw rational inferences from circumstantial evidence in determining what the EPA believed about Mr. Lipsky’s claims?

What Really Happened?

The Railroad Commission ordered Range to test its gas, launched an investigation, and held a formal hearing – in which Mr. Lipsky and the EPA were invited to participate (they declined). The RRC considered scientific testimony on “geology, hydrogeology, microseismic analysis, hydraulic fracturing, geochemical gas fingerprinting, and petroleum engineering” and determined that gas in Mr. Lipsky’s water well was most likely from the Strawn formation, found at 200 to 400 feet, and not the Barnett Shale, from which the Range wells produced at 7,000+/- feet, and that Range’s wells did not contribute to the contamination. Shortly thereafter, the EPA – declining to explain why – withdrew its earlier finding that Range’s wells were an imminent and substantial endangerment to a public drinking water aquifer. The inquisitor blames “political pressure”.

A Quiz:

Who had the motive and stroke to apply “political pressure” on the EPA to withdraw its report?

A.  EPA BFF then-Gov. Rick Perry

B. Sen. Ted “Hands Across the Aisle” Cruz

B. Al Armendariz

C. The ghost of George Mitchell

Who is it?

Who is our nemesis, the avenger of truth, the harbinger of a world purified by its abstinence from hydrocarbons? The inquisitor claimed to be “Sharon Wilson”. Given the anger revealed in the communications and on a certain Website, I assume it is “Texas Sharon”. Those running for high office adhere to a cardinal rule: Never name your adversary. However, this is a public service. When you hear a story, consider the source. Get to know Texas Sharon as a source. Then draw your own inferences, rational or otherwise.

Answer to the Quiz:

Nobody. It was a trick question. My “inference”: The EPA realized they were wrong and, wisely, drug the report off into a gloomy corner of the bureaucratic netherworld where it died, alone and abandoned, shorn of its misshapen graphs, charts and footnotes.

In the name of “debate”, we have this musical interlude.

Invasion Update:

The dog barked last night; thought I heard the rumble of tanks from the invasion. Turned out it was just thunder.

Here The Come
Here They Come

May a court “draw rational inferences from circumstantial evidence” when determining if a plaintiff  has met its burden in a suit in which the defendant has invoked the Texas Citizens Participation Act . That was the question in In re Lipsky.

What is The Anti-SLAPP Statute?

The purpose of the TCPA (the “Anti-SLAPP” statute) is to protect citizens from retaliatory lawsuits seeking to intimidate or silence them on matters of public concern. The procedure for expedited dismissal of such suits involve a two-step process: First, a defendant-movant must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the plaintiff’s claim “is based on, relates to or is in response to the movant’s exercise of (1) the right of free speech; (2) the right to petition; or (3) the right of association.” If the movant demonstrates that the plaintiff’s claim implicates one of those rights, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to establish by “clear and specific evidence” a prima facia case for each essential element of the claim.

Applied to Lipsky and Range

Mr. and Mrs. Lipsky sued Range Resources for polluting their water well by Range’s gas wells in the area. You will remember the infamous video of Mr. Lipsky lighting the garden hose on fire. (Ultimately the Lipsky’s claims were determined by the Railroad Commission and the EPA to be false.) Range counterclaimed, alleging defamation, business disparagement and civil conspiracy. The Lipskys moved to dismiss the counterclaim under the TCPA.

The court focused on the second prong. Lipsky said “clear and specific” means “evidence unaided by presumptions, inferences or intendments”.  No, said the Supreme Court. In TCPA cases, like in others – fraud for example – “clear and specific evidence” can include drawing of inferences from circumstantial evidence. That’s the way people make decisions about a lot of things.

The court decided that Range’s evidence would support a claim for defamation but not business disparagement, and there was no clear and specific evidence to support a case against Mrs. Lipsky or consultant Alisa Rich. Range’s only remaining claim is against Mr. Lipsky for defamation.

What Does This Mean To Me?

Operator: You can’t intimidate your loud-mouthed lessor as easily as your predecessors once could.  Lessor: You are still on the hook for crushing legal fees and potential big-money liability if you persist in wildly exaggerated or untruthful accusations to anyone who will listen.  The anti-frackers aren’t your friends. They will repeat it, truth-be-damned, to anyone who will listen, causing you more grief and despair than you bargained for.

One if By Land, Two if By Sea 

While we’re here, let’s apply Lipsky to the real world. What “rational inferences from circumstantial evidence” can our elected officials draw so as to conclude there is a risk that the U. S. Government, in conducting its Jade Helm 15 military exercise, intends to invade the state, convert vacant west-Texas Walmarts to detention facilities, and incarcerate the true patriots? You could ask it this way: How irrational is it to believe that home-grown SEALS and Green Berets are going to storm the Rio Grande, pillage and plunder their way north to Dallas, and turn their wives, mothers, sisters, fathers and brothers over to the CIA? Prove to me they won’t, I guess.

Two musical interludes – one “subversive”, one not:   RIP Jack Ely and Ben E. King.

Allen Gilmer of DrillingInfo.com warns us about a threat to the nation’s health and safety that makes hydraulic fracturing look like a kindergarten cupcake party (if there were still such a thing).  What’s worse is this scourge is not limited to communities where there is oil and gas production. The young seem to be most afflicted. See the link to Allen’s blog post:

http://info.drillinginfo.com/whats-more-dangerous-puppies-or-fracking/

As long as we are educating, let’s have a lesson on that music genre known as Swamp Pop.  Imagine mixing roughly equal portions of Zydeco, Cajun, N. O. R&B and Country in a musical Cuisinart. The result will be a certain, recognizable rhythm. Throw in horns and an accordion sometimes, and there you have it.

Cookie and the Cupcakes

Slim Harpo

Johnnie Allen.   This one is so easy a Texas  musician can do it, if you know what  I  mean.

Who should decide when, where, how, and even if, hydraulic fracturing should occur?

The locals: “You hypocrites Our good public servants in Austin want ‘local control’ when its against Washington, but deny us the same right.  We know better than you about what’s best for our community. To hell with catastrophic litigation exposure and declining tax revenuesIf you didn’t get a regular royalty check and had to Live next door to a loud, stinky, dangerous industrial operation and then tell me how you’d vote”.

The Lege: “A few ignorant and misguided socialists well-meaning local leaders, abetted by left-wing, Gore-ite, out-of-town agitatorsdispense lies are misinformed, deprive the state of much-needed revenues, and steal private property rights from our campaign contributors brave and visionary explorationists. What’s next, plastic bags?

Austin Doing What It Does – Legislation

Rep. Phil King has introduced two bills relating to fracking. House Bill 539 would add requirements for municipalities that propose petitions or ordinances that will affect oil and natural gas production. The Bill would require cities to make up for any lost revenue as a result of passing a municipal oil and gas ordinance affecting production. Cities would also have to provide a fiscal impact note and an equalized education funding impact statement detailing all associated lost revenue and would be required to reimburse the state for the cost of the measure for a five year period.

Not everyone is enchanted with the bill, especially the Texas Municipal League, who says the bill essentially precludes local governments from regulating oil and gas activities.

House Bill 540 would require a municipality to send any proposed petition that would enact or repeal an ordinance to the Attorney General for review. The AG would determine whether any portion of the proposed measure violates the Texas or federal Constitution, a state statute, a rule, or if it would be considered a governmental taking of private property. If a violation exists, then the petition would not be placed on the ballot.

Even Gov. Abbott has stepped into the fray, admonishing municipalities who have exerted local control over not only fracking, but tree-cutting, bag-banning and gun control.

In Denton – Amending the Drilling Ordinance

The City of Denton has published proposed amendments to their drilling ordinance.

Proposed changes include:

  • Require inspections to be performed by a third party to determine if equipment is properly functioning;
  • Grant authority to the city to map gas pipelines in Denton and its extraterritorial jurisdiction;
  • Increase disclosure requirements of the location of the pad site, existence of wells, possibility of new wells, possibility of more hydraulic fracturing and/or drilling, and possibility of re-working;
  • To minimize surface impact, an operator would be required to select the optimum surface site location within a leased acreage, then capitalize on technological advances to utilize co-location of multiple wells on a single site. Afterwards, the land would be reopened for other development; and leased acreage would be restricted from future gas well drilling;
  • Increase insurance coverage requirements for operators.

The City Council has added this recommendation to their priority legislative issues agenda, aimed at resolving the issue of “vested rights”: “support legislation that would clarify that the state’s vested rights law does not apply to subsurface mineral development as it relates to permits issued by the municipality for oil and gas development activities”.

Which Side Are You On?

An unscientific sample of Dallas Business Journal readers believe, by a 76% to 23% vote, the legislature should be able to limit a city’s ability to regulate oil and gas drilling in its local jurisdiction.

Here is today’s Musical Interlude.

The box scores after election day showed frackers 4, anti’s 4. Courtesy of a gubernatorial grand-slam by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, hydraulic fracturing is now banned throughout the entire state of New York.

In this ballgame within a ballgame, it’s

Yoko and Shawn, the likes of Moveon.org , and wealthy Manhattanites: 1

Mineral owners, asthmatics, underemployed up-staters, and cash-starved municipalities: 0

Producers are safe at home. They will take their bonus money, royalty payments, and jobs elsewhere, such as to other producing states, or just over the border to Pennsylvania.

Why did he do it?

A cynic would say it’s a political decision: He needs the environmentalists for his next election more than the citizens who actually live where production would occur. The professed rationale is that health concerns outweighed economic benefits.

The New York Times reported:

  • The governor said, “I have never heard anyone say to me “I believe fracking is great” . . . “What I get is ‘I have an alternative but fracking’”.
  • The move seems “likely to help repair [Gov. Cuomo’s] ties to his party’s left wing.” (Did we say “cynic”?)
  • In announcing the report, Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said there was “insufficient scientific evidence to affirm the safety of fracking.”
  • “We can’t afford to make a mistake”, he said. “The potential risks are too great, in fact they are not even fully known”.

Decide for yourself what those explanations really mean, or if they are plausible, but the long and short of it is that unless and until fracking is proven beyond any doubt to be safe in all circumstances, at least under the current thinking there will be no fracking – and thus minimal oil and gas production – in New York. Given the propensity of certain groups to make up what they want out of the available scientific evidence, that is not likely to happen.

Here is the 184-page report if you want to read it. Jillian Kay Melchior of National Review Online summarizes:

  • At his news conference Cuomo said that the commissioners made the decision and “I think I don’t even have a role here”.
  • The first draft of the report, under then-Governor David Patterson, concluded that New York should allow fracking to proceed. Patterson asked for do-over that was followed by years of intensive environmental lobbying.
  • There was a suggestion that prosperity itself poses a public health risk (see p. 6).
  • The report focused on what it referred to as “significant uncertainties about the kinds of adverse health outcomes that may be associated with fracking”.
  • Absolute scientific uncertainty of fracking is unlikely to ever be attained.

What could he have done?

Here is what comes immediately to mind:

  • For communities that might want the economic benefits of oil and gas production, let the  voters decide for themselves.
  • Impose reasonable regulations, as producing states have done.
  • Pay attention to the long and safe history of hydraulic fracturing.

Natural Gas is Evil Because …

It’s cleaner?

The protestors in the Times photo gathered in Manhattan, where air pollution is the lowest it’s been in 50 years thanks to, among other efforts, more natural gas for home heating.

It’s the preferred fuel?

New York City’s Pollution Control Code revisions announced in April by Mayor deBlasio will require certain targets, such as mobile food trucks and char broilers, to be run on natural gas and renewables in order to clean up the atmosphere.

You can count on this

Citizens where the process is legal thank the governor for helping keep the production at home, and for affirming New York’s hostile business environment.

Today’s musical interlude – a big Christmas thank you from the Far Left to the Guv for his Kris Kringle moment.

 

Hydraulic fracturing bans had eight at-bats last Tuesday. Here are the results.

Denton, Texas

See the Ballot Question in a recent entry.

YES 58.64%

NO 41.36%

Athens, Ohio

“To establish a community bill of rights for residents and natural communities of Athens and to protect those rights by prohibiting shale gas and oil extraction and related activities; and by elevating the rights and governance of the people of Athens over those privileges bestowed on certain extraction corporations.”

YES 78.28%

NO 21.72%

Gates Mills, Ohio

“Shall Article II of the Charter of the Village of Gates Mills be amended to add Section 4, Gates Mills Community Bill of Rights?”

The amendment itself  was described as a “poorly drafted populist-like approach to changing all manner of laws in our village charter”. The proposition included additional rights such as the “right to pure water”, “right to be free from toxic trespass.”

30.7% Yes

69.3% No

Kent, Ohio

“Shall the proposed amendment to the Charter of the City of Kent adding Section 4 et seq. to Article I, Incorporation; Form of Government; Powers, under the heading titled Community Bill of Rights be adopted?”

YES 46.31%

NO 53.69%

Youngstown, Ohio

The effect of the “Community Bill of Rights Fracking” would be to:

  • Prohibit “unconventional natural gas extraction using horizontal hydraulic fracturing”
  •  Ban “the establishment of infrastructures supporting gas production”
  • Ban “the storage, transportation or depositing of gas drilling waste products” in Youngstown.

YES 42%

NO 58%

Santa Barbara County, California

“Initiative to Ban ‘High-Intensity Petroleum Operations’ including but not limited to Well Stimulation Treatments and Secondary and Enhanced Recovery Operations such as Hydraulic Fracturing, Steam Injection and Acid Well Stimulation Treatment on all Lands within Santa Barbara County’s Unincorporated Area.”

YES 37.35%

NO 62.65%

San Benito County, California

“Shall San Benito County’s General Plan be amended to ban High-Intensity Petroleum Operations (such as hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, acid well stimulation, and cyclic steam injection, but not Low-Intensity Petroleum Operations) throughout all unincorporated areas, and all Petroleum Operations in residential general plan designations of Rural, Rural Transitional, Rural Residential, Rural/Urban, and Sphere of Influence Rural/Urban, with related zoning changes to implement the new General Plan policies?”

YES 57.3%

NO 42.64%

Mendocino County, California

“An Initiative to Assert the Rights of Residents of Mendocino County in Order to Secure Clean Water, Air and Soil and Freedom From Chemical Trespass. Which Would Ban Hydraulic Fracturing, Directional and Horizontal Drilling, and Waste Injection Wells in the County of Mendocino and Invalidates Any and All Laws Contrary to this Purpose to the Extent They Effect the County of Mendocino.”

YES 67.18%

NO: 37.82%

What does it mean?

  • We are in the middle innings of the debate. More of these votes are sure to come as reserves are discovered in places where people live.
  • There is a home field advantage.  Drivers of the Denton vote were lackadaisical local regulation leading to wells in places where voters thought they shouldn’t be, and vocal and organized proponents.
  • As nasty as a Randy Johnson fastball on the inside edge of the plate, citizens without mineral rights and the royalty checks that come with them, get cranky when noisy, ugly industrial activities jam and ruin their roads and otherwise interfere with their lifestyle. They vote in large numbers.
  • The industry whiffs on the hanging curveball.  The perceived risks – groundwater contamination, air pollution, earthquake damage – are fears, not well grounded in science.  The industry can’t convince some voters otherwise.
  • As with the Yankees, it’s not about the money. Industry outspent the opposition by substantial amounts, sometimes with success, sometimes not.
  • Like a spring-training game, there are times when the outcome doesn’t matter.  There is no fracking (and for all I know, no oil and gas activity) in San Benito County.
  • Sometimes the player off the bench makes the winning play. Results appear not to be based on predictable factors. Denton is heavily Republican and banned fracking. Athens votes Democratic and refused a ban. (The labor unions were against it).
  • Don’t underestimate the stolen base. They say it’s only about “fracking”. But without fracking it’s really about drilling.

New players in different places will be called on to participate.

As you probably know, the Denton City Council denied a petition signed by several thousand citizens to ban hydraulic fracturing within the city limits. The denial sent the question to the November 4 general election ballot.  Here is the proposition, its legalese in full bloom:

SHALL AN ORDINANCE BE ENACTED PROHIBITING, WITHIN THE CORPORATE LIMITS OF THE CITY OF DENTON, TEXAS, HYDRAULIC FRACTURING, A WELL STIMULATION PROCESS INVOLVING THE USE OF WATER, SAND AND/OR CHEMICAL ADDITIVES PUMPED UNDER HIGH PRESSURE TO FRACTURE SUBSURFACE NON-POROUS ROCK FORMATIONS SUCH AS SHALE TO IMPROVE THE FLOW OF NATURAL GAS, OIL, OR OTHER HYDROCARBONS INTO THE WELL, WITH SUBSEQUENT HIGH RATE, EXTENDED FLOWBACK TO EXPEL FRACTURE FLUIDS AND SOLIDS

The players

Supporters and detractors of the ban are divided into two predictable groups: Local and national environmentalists on the one hand and producers and local royalty owners on the other. Who’s who and what they say can be seen from their websites:

In support of the ban you have FrackFree Denton.

Against the ban you have Denton Taxpayers for a Strong Economy.

Dig a little deeper, say into campaign finance filings, and you can see whose money is behind the campaigns.  Here is the local Denton Record Chronicle on where the bulk of the money is coming from on both sides.

In the news

Want news on the election? The Denton Record Chronicle evaluates the claims of both sides.

Here is a report from StateImpact, a publication of National Public Radio member stations.

And a comprehensive and pretty fair article from the New York Times.

There is no shortage of opinions

Here is one from the Dallas Morning News.

In another, Eagle Ridge Energy presents a forceful case for the benefits of hydraulic fracturing. They have every reason to have an opinion. Eagle Ridge has been the target of litigation by homeowners and opprobrium by bloggers for their operations in the city limits.

Here is one from Energy in Depth, a non-local group with an interest in fracking everywhere.

The Texas Railroad Commission also has an opinion.

In the spirit of open debate, on these web sites you can read about the “evils” of fracking. I’m not of this mindset, but it’s helpful to know what the uninitiated are hearing.

One from “Texas Sharon“.

And from the environmental group Earthworks, which is working hard in Denton and worldwide to pass the  ban. (Disclaimer:  The photo is Earthwork-like in its extremism, but it is not from Denton.)

Let’s have a live debate?

A debate is scheduled in Denton between FrackNation Producer Phelim McAleer and environmental activist Calvin Tillman on Monday, October 27. Here is the link.

What does it mean?

If the ban passes, litigation.

Failure would be a retreat from overreaction, and maybe a debate about whether Denton needs more neighborhood-friendly drilling oversight.

In the spirit of universal suffrage …

Today’s musical interlude has nothing to do with the topic, unless it’s divine guidance you are seeking (in which case, why are you reading this blog?).  We all get to vote. How do you like your Amazing Grace, … Celtic, …  African, … or Country?

Special thanks to Tricia Davis of the Texas Royalty Council for her help on this post.

“What is it like to live inside your head with Peter Pan and the Easter Bunny?” So asks the sister in “Bridges of Madison County” after the brother wonders if the Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood characters had sex all those years ago.

And so it is from certain quarters in the hydraulic fracking debate who continue to insist, hysterically and despite the evidence, that the process is a threat to Civilization As We Know It. This post is a summary of several discussions.  Read the articles themselves for details.

Gas Flaring

According to Earthworks, gas flaring in the Bakken and Eagle Ford Shale is out of control and tons of greenhouse gases are being fired into the atmosphere; therefore, we should ban fracking. According to Energy in Depth, Earthworks fails to address that the flaring is significantly decreasing in the Bakken both in percentage of gas produced and actual volume, all as production increases. There is flaring because pipeline capacity hasn’t caught up with new gas production. Flaring will continue to go down as pipeline capacity comes on line. Does anyone seriously believe that the industry is not focused on finding a solution?

Methane Leaks

Speaking of inflammatory emissions, Bill McKibben points to methane leaks as one more reason to ban hydraulic fracturing, now and entirely. This is reported by the Energy Exchange, a publication of the Environmental Defense Fund. To its credit, the EDF disagrees, and also sees methane leaks as bad thing and lobbies for stronger, smart regulations.  Most people can go along with “smart”.

Lest you believe people like McKibben are not a menace to common sense and a safe, abundant and clean energy supply, Energy In Depth reveals the folly of his ideas and the bad “science” on which they are based. Among other points: Hydraulic fracturing has contributed the decrease in GHGs in the United States, a fact proclaimed by the IPCC, of all people, and surveys by McKibben and his colleague Ingraffea have been discredited by organizations such as the US IEA, MIT and other mainstreamers.

“Science” With a Political Agenda

And while we are on the topic of misleading “science”, the Hill published a reply by Isaac Orr of the Heartland Institute to an earlier piece by one Helen Slotttje, who wrote about the perils of fracking. (Preview: It’s Bush’s fault and FDR is on her side. I don’t have enough space here to unpack that point of view.)  Among her other errors is a report on the dangers of fracking by the Colorado School of Public Health that was repudiated by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment.

A musical interlude to accommodate the dark vision  of the likes of Earthworks.

Co-author Sandra Mazan

In Powder River Basin Resource Council v. Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the Wyoming Supreme Court held that the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has the burden of justifying the use of trade secrets exemption from revealing the contents of hydraulic fracturing chemicals. The court also required the WOGCC, when deciding what a “trade secret” is, to apply the definition under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

The Background

In 2010, Wyoming was the first state to require reporting of chemicals used in fracking. However, a company can petition for a “trade secret” exemption from the law to shield itself from public disclosure of frac fluid ingredients. The state’s 2010 fracking chemical disclosure rule requires full disclosure of the ingredients under the Wyoming Public Records Act. WOGCC has granted more than a hundred such exemptions. Environmental and landowner groups challenged the WOGCC’s justification for granting those exemptions. The district court ruled for the WOGCC, upholding the agency’s decision that information be withheld and deferring determination of what constitutes a trade secret to the WOGCC. The plaintiffs appealed.

The Decision

The Supreme Court reversed. Under the Wyoming Public Records Act, the district court must independently determine the merits of the exemption rather than to rely on the WOGC’s determination. The district court must individually examine the information requests and apply the definition of “trade secrets” found in the FOIA, which includes a “secret, commercially valuable plan, formula, process, or devise that is used for the making, preparing, compounding, or processing of trade commodities and that can be said to be the end product of either innovation or substantial effort.” The Court also placed the burden on the WOGC to justify its use of trade secrets exemptions. The case was remanded and the district court was ordered to review the exemptions in light of the ruling.

The Implications

Although the Court did not decide the question of whether individual chemicals can constitute trade secrets, the definition of “trade secrets” to be applied in such determinations is narrower than the one previously applied by WOGCC. It requires that there be a “direct relationship between the trade secret and the productive process.” As such, it may result in a higher burden on companies that request trade secret protection. It is uncertain, however, whether this will lead to additional protections or have any impact on hydraulic fracturing operations in Wyoming.

Our musical interlude brings us as close to Wyoming as we could find, geographically at least.

WHAT IS IT, FRACING OR FRACKING?

Having gone back-and-forth over how to spell the process, I’ve figured it out.

Why it is “Fracing”:

  • That’s what the engineers call it, and they’re the ones who do it.
  •  Some law firm blogs stand fast with their friends and agree.
  •  It’s a gerund:  A noun formed from a verb by adding “-ing”.  So says Merriam-Webster.  That makes “fracing” correct.  (Accolades to my linguistically enabled wife for that explanation).
  •  The Utopians have stolen a word that doesn’t belong to them about a process they don’t understand. In adding the “k”, they imply a certain lasciviousness to the process and to the industry.

 Why it is “Fracking”:

  • Because that’s what it’s called in the popular press.
  • Look it up in Merriam-Webster: it’s “fracking”.  Otherwise, “Did you intend to look for ferrocene … Fresno?” No, I guess I intended to look for fracking.
  •  Other firms, whose lawyers matriculated to institutions that charge far higher tuition than mine, have given in, and refer to it as ”fracking”.
  •  Bryan Garner, in his excellent legal writing blog LawProse, explains when referring to word usage that some words start out as substandard English until, over a long period of time, they become accepted by more and more commentators, to the point where the words become standard English. Perhaps that’s where we are with our word of the day.
  • My autocorrect feature in Word puts that red swirly line under “fracing” but not “fracking”.
  • Those not literate in oil and gas lingo might pronounce it like “facing” or “bracing”.

The “k’s” have it, 6 to 4.  Maybe I’ll just call it what it is: “hydraulic fracturing”.

A JUDGMENT IN PARR V. ARUBA 

In the “first fracking verdict ever”, or whatever you choose to call the result, the trial court denied Aruba’s post-judgment motions and confirmed the jury verdict in favor of the plaintiffs. That includes the $2.65 million in damages for personal injuries. Thus, the answer to the question posed in the last post is a qualified “yes”. Can you imagine Aruba’s thoughts about the court of appeals?

OPPRESSING THE OPPRESSED MINORITY NO LONGER

In a development not about Republicans’ imagined campaign of voter disenfranchisement, the Texas Supreme Court issued a long-awaited ruling involving allegations of oppression of a minority owner of a Texas corporation.  Here is Gray Reed’s takeaway, prepared by Mark Wigder.  Generally speaking, it’s fair to say the “majority” won.