As part of a 2011 settlement between three gas and oil companies and a Pennsylvania family, a couple’s two young children must not talk about fracking or the company itself for life.
The move, legal experts say, is unique in that while the order is fine to impose on adults, the legality of such a gag on children is up for debate. The youths were ages 10 and 7 at the time of the gag order.
Legal experts told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that they know of no cases in which children were subjected to these types of gag orders.
The suit between the Hallowich family and Range Resources (RRC), Williams Gas/Laurel Mountain Midstream and MarkWest Energy Partners, LP (MWE) prevents the family from mentioning fracking or even the Marcellus Shale, an important state-crossing shale gas resource.
In the lawsuit, the Mount Pleasant, Penn., family accused the companies of devaluing their farm, contaminating their water supply and causing the family health issues.
When questioned about the order by the Post-Gazette, a Range Resources spokesman said he didn’t believe the gag order applied to the children, though court records from time show Range Resources considered it applicable to the entire family.
“It’s news to me that they say they are now releasing the children,” the family’s attorney, Peter Villari, told the newspaper. “I’d appreciate it if they’d put that in writing.”