Children, 7 and 10, faced "lifetime gag" in fracking settlement

A natural gas well is drilled near Canton, in Bradford County, Pennsylvania.

After their home was "ruined" by nearby drilling operations, Stephanie and Christopher Hallowich were so frightened of the potential effects that, in return for a settlement, they agreed to a gag order that forbade them—and their minor-age children—from ever discussing the subject in public.

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

The non-disclosure agreement prohibiting Chris and Stephanie Hallowich from talking about the 2011 settlement of their high-profile Marcellus Shale damage case in Washington County, or saying anything about gas drilling and fracking, isn't unusual. It happens often in settling such cases. But the insistence that their two minor children, then ages 7 and 10, are also bound by the "gag order" is.

"Our position is it does apply to the whole family," said James Swetz, the attorney representing Range Resources at the settlement hearing. "We would certainly enforce it."

The drillers paid $750,000 to the family after being accused of ruining their home, making their land unsellable, and threatening the health of the two children.

Barbara Miller, a staff writer at the Observer-Reporter, writes that the company has now backed off from the lifetime gag claims after they were publicized by reporters: "The kids can say whatever they want."