[JURIST] A Netherlands court ruled on Wednesday that a Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil joint venture must pay homeowners for property damage caused by gas drilling related earthquakes. The Dutch Safety Board [official website] has warned [Reuters report] several times in the past few years that natural gas production in Groningen field area [BBC backgrounder] increases earthquake risk, and that companies have not done enough to mitigate the risk. Nearly a hundred thousand homes and buildings were damaged in the quakes, with damage estimates in the billions.
The environmental impact of natural gas production, particularly hydraulic fracturing, or fracking [JURIST backgrounder] has been controversial around the world. In June, New York implemented a ban on the practice. In March, the Maryland House of Delegates [official website] passed a bill [JURIST report] to place a 3-year moratorium on fracking in the state. Also in March US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell [official profile] announced [JURIST report] the publication of a rule regulating fracking on federal land. In January Scotland announced [JURIST report] a moratorium on the granting of permits for unconventional oil and gas extraction, including fracking amid environmental and health concerns.