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Marcellus Shale Explosions Pennsylvania Lawyers Warn Of Danger

April 5, 2011, ERIE, PA — It’s no secret. The rush to access the natural gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale formation is going to cause injury. The negligence of people and companies involved may even cause deaths and has already led to environmental contamination.

Still, Pennsylvania, under the leadership of new Governor Tom Corbett, seems unwilling to provide meaningful oversight of the wildcat drillers and others who are using explosives and high pressure drilling techniques. Instead, the natural gas industry is rushing in to grab as much of the Marcellus Shale resource as they can, largely untroubled by state oversight or concern for the environment or the people in the vicinity of these drilling operations.

You might expect plaintiff lawyers to wait quietly for the inevitable injuries and deaths and then swoop in for a profit. That’s certainly the image projected by our critics who accuse us of doing little to warn or help and much to take profit. Instead, Pennsylvania plaintiff lawyers are ringing the bell to warn citizens of the danger.

In a recent article, Pennsylvania lawyer Michael Rozensweig warned, “The Marcellus Shale creates horrendous injuries because you have all this liquid and gas at high pressure being carried over pipelines, being stored in million gallon ponds and tanks and being injected into the ground at high pressure…The failure scenarios are quite robust.”

Still, Pennsylvania’s government, under the leadership of Republican Governor Tom Corbett, seems unwilling to listen to the obvious and it seems likely that the industry will pay attention only if plaintiff lawyers are able to hold careless drillers responsible for the harm they cause. Of course, at the same time that Corbett is taking a “hands off” approach to Marcellus Shale drillers (from whom he accepted large campaign contributions) he’s actively interjected government into the long held rights of citizens to seek just compensation for harm caused.

Corbett calls it tort reform. I say we ought to call it what it is. It’s big government taking away individual rights for the benefit of large corporations and insurance companies.

Speak up, folks. Your legislators need to know that you know what’s going on. Tell them two things. First, The Marcellus Shale is a great natural resource that should be responsibly exploited but responsibility means being careful to look out for others. We should not accept injury, death and toxic contamination just because it’s quicker and cheaper to act carelessly.

Second, in our nation’s history, the courtroom has been the one place where the average guy (or gal) can go and be on equal footing with the biggest corporation or insurance company. The average guy can’t compete at high-priced cocktail fundraisers. The average guy doesn’t stroll country-club golf courses with the most powerful politicians. The one place where the average guy can be heard by a jury of his peers is the courtroom. Let your legislator know that you won’t stand for any obstacles being placed between you and the one place where you can stand toe-to-toe with anyone who hurts you or your family. Tell your legislator that you oppose “tort reform.”

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