Newspapers seeking settlement disclosure to get speedy hearing
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A Washington County judge has granted the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's motion for an expedited hearing on whether to unseal an August 2011 settlement agreement between Marcellus Shale gas development companies and members of a family who claimed drilling damaged their health.
Washington County Common Pleas President Judge Debbie O'Dell Seneca ruled quickly Wednesday morning to grant the newspaper's motion and scheduled a hearing for Jan. 18, saying she wasn't sure why the settlement was sealed in the first place.
The Post-Gazette and the Washington Observer-Reporter are seeking access to the settlement agreement, filed in a civil suit that alleged that the health of Stephanie and Chris Hallowich and their two children was harmed by air pollution and water contamination caused by Marcellus Shale gas drilling operations adjacent to their 10-acre farm in Mount Pleasant Township.
The agreement settling the Hallowichs' lawsuit against Range Resources, MarkWest Energy Partners and Williams Gas/Laurel Mountain Midstream Partners, includes a non-disclosure clause that prevents the family from speaking about the settlement or talking publicly about shale gas drilling or hydraulic fracturing.
First Published December 19, 2012 2:28 pm