Two things can be found in abundance in eastern Ohio: Amish farms and underground shale formations that hold oil and gas. Turns out, this odd combination is great news for energy companies, reports the New Republic. They can make a fortune extracting the oil and gas through fracking, and they can do so knowing that property owners won't sue if things go wrong because the Amish faith prohibits lawsuits. "This, obviously, has enticed some companies to take advantage of Amish farmers," writes Molly Redden.
Given the huge stakes involved, some Amish bishops are loosening up and allowing followers to pursue a lesser legal route known as a declaratory judgment. It allows a judge to interpret a contract in court, though no monetary awards are involved. But many refuse to do even that. Redden talks to one Amish farmer duped into signing away the drilling rights to his 158 acres for $10 an acre, when some of his neighbors got $1,000. The cash-strapped farmer won't be taking Kenoil to court, however. It's his own fault, he reasons. His only retribution is knowing that the agent "will have to live with his conscience.”