Following a record-strength earthquake in September, residents of Pawnee, Okla., hope legal action will compensate them for injuries and property damage.
Weitz & Luxenberg, a New York-based consumer protection firm, is bringing a class action lawsuit on behalf of affected residents. The firm announced on Friday that it will sue more than a dozen energy companies in district court. The plaintiffs plan to argue that the companies’ practice of injecting wastewater from fracking caused the September quake – and more than 50 smaller tremors.
It’s a complex issue for the court, which must balance a growing scientific consensus against energy companies’ criticisms of the science, in a state where oil and gas companies dominate the economy. It has historically been hard to get courts, wary of setting problematic precedents, to rule on these issues. However, the lawsuit may shine a light on the problems, encouraging further regulation and alternative disposal methods.