Exxon Mobil CEO says water tower lawsuit isn't related to fracking

rex tillerson (wikipedia)

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson is an outspoken supporter of fracking, but he's not pleased with a potentially fracking-related project in his Texas neighborhood. As the Wall Street Journal reports, Tillerson has joined a lawsuit that aims to block construction of a 160-foot water tower that could be used to support fracking projects near the Dallas suburb of Bartonville.

The lawsuit, filed in 2012, argues that the tower would encourage the city to sell "water to oil and gas explorers for fracking shale formations leading to traffic with heavy trucks ... creating a noise nuisance and traffic hazards." But Tillerson's representatives say he's not opposed to the tower being used to support fracking, stressing that his primary concern is that it would be an eyesore for the community, potentially hurting property values.

"This is not an anti-fracking lawsuit."

"Mr. Tillerson does not object to the tower for its potential use for water and gas operations for fracking," Exxon Mobil spokesman Alan Jeffers told Reuters, adding that Tillerson's property is already near other oil and gas operations.

Fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing, is a drilling process whereby oil or gas is extracted by injecting a high-pressure mixture of water, sand, and chemicals into bedrock. The process has dramatically changed the energy landscape in the US, and is a major part of Exxon Mobil's business, though critics say it has dangerous impacts on public health and the environment.

The lead plaintiffs in the Texas lawsuit are former US House Majority Leader Dick Armey and his wife, who claim they were assured that a water tower would never be built near their 83-acre ranch. Cross Timbers Water Supply Corp., the nonprofit utility behind the project, disputes the notion that the tower would be used for fracking purposes, noting that the company's energy business is small, and that the tower would primarily be used to meet the area's growing residential and commercial needs.

"This is not an anti-fracking lawsuit," Michael Whitten, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, told the Fort Worth Star-Ledger. "Nothing could be further from the truth."

Whitten acknowledged that some plaintiffs were concerned about industry related truck traffic, though Tillerson was not one of them. "I should have distinguished Mr. Tillerson’s position from the others," he added. "He thinks the tower devalues his property. Our objective is to get this thing torn down."

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