Gag Order on Kids? Wake Up, Fracking Industry

In settlement, family's young children ordered to keep silent

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 6, 2013 3:45 PM CDT | Updated Aug 6, 2013 4:15 PM CDT

(Newser) – An unusual legal settlement now getting national attention is yet another example of why the fracking industry has such a lousy reputation, writes Loren Steffy at Forbes. The story first came to light courtesy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which reported on a $750,000 settlement for Chris and Stephanie Hallowich of Pennsylvania. They had sued fracking companies after accusing them of destroying their land and endangering their health. The deal came with a non-disclosure pact, which is typical. Not typical: That gag order also applies to the couple's two children, ages 7 and 10—and it theoretically bars them from talking about the case for life.

Mother Jones notes that industry lawyers pressed the point, according to the court transcript, and the Post-Gazette talks to a host of legal experts who have never heard of such a thing. It's these kind of "bully tactics" that are keeping the industry from spreading the word about the potential benefits of drilling for natural gas, writes Steffy. This is why people don't trust the energy industry, he adds. "What can it do about it? Well, for starters, it could stop getting gag orders against children." Click for his full post.

In this 2012 file photo, a crew works on a drilling rig at a well site for shale-based natural gas in Zelienople, Pa.
In this 2012 file photo, a crew works on a drilling rig at a well site for shale-based natural gas in Zelienople, Pa.   (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)
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