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Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson Blames the Roaring ’20s For Gas Contamination in Underground Water

By Jason Heid |

In posting this, some may accuse me of having an ax to grind, just because at lunchtime yesterday at the Hall Arts Center Parking Garage I got stuck behind a long line of cars belonging to Exxon shareholders that were leaving the company’s meeting at the Meyerson Symphony Center.

But I hold no particular grudge against them, or against CEO Rex Tillerson, who has (refreshingly, for an oil company executive) been willing to acknowledge that human activity and greenhouse gases contribute to climate change. However, as a member of the media, I bristle at Tillerson’s claim, noted by the Dallas Morning News, that it’s the media’s fault that people have come to believe that modern natural gas drilling can lead to contamination of underground water tables.

Sure, there have been a number of documented instances in which people have been able to set their faucet water on fire shortly after natural gas drilling began nearby. But, Tillerson said:

Maybe an old gas well was disturbed and began leaking. Or maybe when the population grows in rural areas, people drill more water wells and draw more water from the underground table, stirring up naturally occurring gas, or gas that leaked many decades ago.

“You don’t have to be too much of a snoop-dog reporter to think there were probably wells drilled in the 1920s, and that people didn’t care about contaminating the water table,” he said.

“All of that water withdrawal has moved a lot of this contamination around and made it very difficult to know where it originated.”

I suggest all media outlets immediately hire a snoop-dog reporter.