Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Amish Are Getting Fracked: Their religion prohibits lawsuits—and the energy companies know it

Found via The Big Picture.

It was maybe two weeks, Miller figured, before they realized the enormity of what they’d done. First, their local paper, The Bargain Hunter, carried a front-page story advising farmers their land could be worth hundreds per acre to oil and gas companies. He compared notes with landowners nearby while on trips to the sale barns where farmers trade livestock, and when other farmers delivered hay for his cows. Miller is physically imposing—stout and broad-shouldered—but also painfully timid. When pressed on what his neighbors had earned, he gazed for a long time at Edna, who, with one of their daughters, was chalking the outline of a man’s pantleg onto a bolt of wool rolled out on the table. “My wife and I took turns kicking each other in the butt.” He paused for a long while. “Our ten dollars an acre compared to $1,000.”

Indeed, many area farms had leased for thousands. Even by a conservative calculation, the couple said they had missed out on a $79,000 signing bonus. (Kenoil declined to comment). Several times, they have felt the sting of their mistake, as during last year’s drought, when a decimated corn crop forced them to buy extra feed for the milking cows, costing thousands of dollars. The Millers have also tried to undo their misstep. Around the beginning of 2011, Lloyd presented his lease and his story to a lawyer, who said that by telling the Millers that $10 an acre represented the best deal available to them, the agent had committed fraud. He told Miller he could take Kenoil to court. “But I said, ‘Hey, that’s something we don’t do,’” Miller said. “He’s got to live with his conscience.”