One month from today, the world will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which dumped up to 750,000 barrels of crude oil into Alaska's pristine Prince William Sound. It was the largest spill in US waters until the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010.
In related news, Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation, has joined a lawsuit to stop a 15-story water tower, to be used for fracking, from being built near his 83-acre Texas ranch. Tillerson and his fellow plaintiffs – among then former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey – argue that the proposed water tower would "devalue their properties and adversely impact the rural lifestyle they sought to enjoy." The plaintiffs state their ranches are all worth at least $1 million (£600,000); Tillerson's in particular sounds wonderful, with "homes, barns, and a state-of-the-art horse training facility."
The lawsuit details the concerns Tillerson and his fellow ranch-owners have about fracking, including the noise, light pollution, and environmental harm they believe it will cause. They assert that the fracking will result in "undesirable development not in character with their neighbourhood."
Oddly, Tillerson was quoted in 2011 criticising "overzealous regulation" of the fracking industry. And in 2012, Exxon ran a $2 million (£1.2 million) series of pro-drilling newspaper and radio ads in New York.
Hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – is the process of drilling a mixture of highly pressurised water, chemicals, and sand into the ground to release deposits of natural gas. Exxon appears to think it's relatively harmless.
Unfortunately for Tillerson, the lawsuit will have little impact on the water tower, which is already 75 percent complete, according to Lloyd Hanson at Cross Timbers Water Supply Corporation – the company that supplies water to most of the surrounding area.
“It’s not the first water tower in the area," Hanson told VICE News. "And we’ve never gotten any sort of complaints from residents before."