Oleum rex

The CEO of Exxon loves fracking, as long as it doesn’t spoil his view

February 21, 2014
February 21, 2014

Call it the ultimate NIMBY move: Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson has joined a lawsuit to prevent a fifteen-story water tower from being built near his 83-acre Texas horse ranch, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The tower is being built by a state utility to meet the growing demand for water in the area. A key cause of that demand? Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, a technique used by oil companies to extract hard-to-get reserves by breaking up underground shale formations with high pressure blasts of water, sand and chemicals. Exxon, one of the world’s most valuable companies, is also one of the biggest users of the technique.

In 2011, Tillerson told reporters that the “overzealous regulation of hydraulic fracturing is impeding development of gas fields vital to America’s economic success.”

Tillerson’s attorney says that while the lawsuit criticizes fracking—saying it will bring noisy truck traffic—the executive is just concerned about the prospect of further development in the rural neighborhood. There are nine wells near Tillerson’s ranch that rely on the technique, including one managed by Exxon subsidiary XTO, which is currently facing criminal charges for illegally dumping 50,000 gallons of fracking wastewater in Pennsylanvia.

Of course, there’s no disputing that Tillerson and his neighbors in the suit (including former US lawmaker Dick Armey) deserve a say in what happens in their backyards. But Exxon has never shied away from knock-down drag-out fights against local opponents at other fracking sites, who fear that the technique will contaminate local water supplies, among other complaints. The company spent at least $2 million lobbying the state of New York to allow fracking, despite widespread opposition.

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