Home Energy and Environment If Fracking is Safe, Why Then Has One Major Company Refused to...

If Fracking is Safe, Why Then Has One Major Company Refused to Cover Related Damage?

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Two weeks ago, Nationwide Insurance became the first major company to exclude damage to homes from fracking. The decision applies to companies which frack as well as to homeowners who allow fracking below their property. It is unclear how this will affect those who refuse to lease but live surrounded by those who sign.  

There are several significant ramifications of this decision by Nationwide.

1) Should other companies follow suit (and they likely will), homeowners in or near fracking areas (remember horizontal drilling reaches out one to two miles from the original well site) might not be able to insure their homes.  

2) 2) If one cannot insure a home, then mortgages will be void.  

3) This is because lenders require homeowners to carry insurance. So, mortgages could be called back, that is to say, cancelled.  

4) If other insurers join in, no new mortgages could be written for the property.  

5) And no one is likely to buy an uninsurable home.

6) If a home cannot be sold, it’s market value is zero, thus obliterating the value of the homeowner’s investment and putting the homeowner seriously “under water.”

Given the above, I am wondering why some of us would want to impose such a price on any homeowners in the Marcellus shale or other areas drillers covet. And I wonder why others would partake in their own economic undoing.

Someone purporting “objectivity” (LOL) happened along on these pages to uttter the words, the “truth is somewhere in the middle.” As Lowkell pointed out, that is lazy thinking. It is also, what am I trying to say, WRONG, also as Lowkell points out here.

What will you all say then the rest of the insurers follow suit? Or will it be one more example of NIMBY?

But here is the thing. Watersheds are just that. The are not fixed or closed systems. They are open, interactive systems covering wide areas and affecting others far beyond. From an environmental perspective, we are all in this together. And it is not something to split the difference on.  The ability to secure drinkable water is central to our existence. The ability to buy or sell a home, considered one of the main aspirations of the those of us in the Middle Class, will be in jeopardy. If that doesn’t potentially redesign the “American way of life” in one brushstroke, then I do not know what does.  

Here is the recent debate on fracking aired on North Carolina’s National Public Radio Station. The motion is that fracking does more harm than good.

For the proposition (against fracking) are Debora Goldbert (Managing Attorney for Earth Justice) and Watershed Program Director at Riverkeeper).

Against the Proposition that fracking does more harm than good (but for fracking) are NY Times Op-Ed Columnist Joe Nocera and Sue Tierney (Managing Principal at Analysis Group).

  • Scaling Green?

    As the first major U.S. insurance company to refuse to cover fracking-related damages, this is most definitely a big you-know-what deal. Without insurance coverage, will landowners, contractors and others involved in fracking be willing to proceed with projects? Ultimately, if other U.S. insurance companies follow Nationwide’s lead, will individuals and corporations be willing to assume the numerous – and potentially extremely expensive – risks associated with fracking themselves?

    Time will provide answers to these questions. For now, though, the reaction of the Independent Petroleum Association of America – calling Nationwide’s move “reckless” and “uninformed” –  already gives us a good idea regarding the degree to which the fracking industry views Nationwide’s decision as a serious threat. It will be fascinating to see how hysterical the frackers get if (when?) more insurance companies join Nationwide in denying them coverage.

  • I feel honored.