Range Resources paid approximately $750,000 to Stephanie and Christopher Hallowich of Mt. Pleasant Township for their 10-acre home after a Marcellus Shale wells and compressor station set up shop next door, and the couple became frightened of potential impacts on their children's health. The pair were so concerned that in return for a settlement, they even agreed to a gag order that forbade them -- and their minor children -- from ever discussing the subject in public.
"The non-disclosure agreement prohibiting Chris and Stephanie Hallowich from talking about the 2011 settlement of their high-profile Marcellus Shale damage case in Washington County, or saying anything about gas drilling and fracking, isn't unusual. It happens often in settling such cases.
But the insistence that their two minor children, then ages 7 and 10, are also bound by the "gag order" is."
"Our position is it does apply to the whole family," said James Swetz, the attorney representing Range Resources at the settlement hearing. "We would certainly enforce it."
However, Barbara Miller, a staff writer at the Observer-Reporter now writes that the company has backed off from the lifetime gag claims after they were publicized by reporters: "The kids can say whatever they want."
“The kids can say whatever they want,” Pitzarella said. “We have no objection to it. We’re not happy with many aspects of (the hearing), and we’re happy to put it behind us.”
He added that the company did not settle with the family over health or safety concerns, but because the situation was not ideal for either side.
“It did not work for us, and it did not work them,” Pitzarella said. “We’re saying they had a legitimate nuisance claim.”
It's wonderful that the children don't have to live with the imposition of a lifetime gag order...how sad that they have to leave such a beautiful home, with room to roam and play, and with a lovely view of nature in all its glory. But in come the drills and wells...
It's very wrong that anyone can be chased away from their home because of the pursuit of fossil fuels. The right to a family's home should trump all else.