The meaning of "good neighbor" in oil and gas speak

Many oil and gas companies claim to have "Good Neighbor" policies. Their definition of "good neighbor" seems to be different than that of many Americans. It doesn't seem to have anything in common with the good neighbor concept that many learned from Mr. Rogers.

Because the intensity, pace and extent of current oil and gas activities are new to many communities, local governments around the U.S. are working to create new ordinances that appropriately address the new activity within their borders. If oil and gas companies are good neighbors, then why are they suing communities around the country that are working to protect their quality of life? Companies are suing local governments in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, and Colorado. Needless to say, the companies have much deeper pockets and bigger legal budgets than these tiny rural communities.

Oil and gas companies also take legal action against individuals. Chevron is one of the companies that has a good neighbor policy, but it has issued a subpoena to a ranch-owner in Texas because she posted video interviews with experts who discuss Chevron's past environmental practices. This ranch-owner was also sued by ExxonMobil for reporting on extensive environmental problems on her own ranch.

Citizens should be respected and supported when they report environmental transgressions, not sued. But in many cases, individuals have been forced to sue companies to get compensation for damages to their property or health caused by oil and gas operations. I know that some companies have delivered water to families that have had drinking water contamination, but have not admitted responsibility. Has anyone ever heard of an oil or gas company that admitted it was responsible for damages and willingly compensated the victims? If so, please let me know. I would love to hear any reports of genuine good neighbors.

About the Authors

Amy Mall

Senior Policy Analyst, Land & Wildlife program

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