An Alabama couple have been banned from entering parts of their own property because Big Oil plans to drill there.
The couple, Kenneth and Loretta Kennedy from Brookwood, Alabama, have been given a restraining order from Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Deputy which prohibits them from entering the property. Their years of battling with the Black Warrior Methane Corporation for the preservation of their own land in a huge attempt to stop crews from drilling there has gone unnoticed, as despite their attempts, they have been forbidden from interfering with the oil company’s operations.
The ongoing battle for the protection of the Kennedys’ 163 acre land, which they have owned for the past 27 years, began back in 2011. According to CBS 42, “Black Warrior Methane has been working on a drilling operation beneath the Kennedys’ land, which the couple says has ruined the property that stretches across more than 100 acres”. According to their report, the Kennedys claim that the drilling has ruined the property, and they are no longer able to draw water from the wells as they had done previously, due to Black Warrior Methane’s operations contaminating the water supply. Kenneth Kennedy told CBS 42 that they had a good supply of good drinking water for the past 25 years, but now “all of a sudden it starts smelling like rotten eggs”.
Local NBC affiliate WVTM reports, “A few months ago, he says Black Warrior Methane Corp. approached him to drill on his land to remove dangerous methane gas 2,000 feet below in an untapped coal mine. If the gas is not removed, it could put miners at risk and potentially cause the mine to explode, according to Kennedy, who is a retired mine worker.”
After negotiations for a reasonable price for access from the Kennedys failed, Black Warrior Methane retaliated by suing them for rights to their property. They claimed that it “has and holds all of the rights of way, easements, waiver of damage and permission to conduct drilling operations, and reservation of mineral and mining rights”. The company also claimed that the couple does not own the mineral rights to their property, but in fact the company has for decades. Despite this claim, Loretta Kennedy said, “We bought the property. It’s paid for. And then we don’t have a right to say who can come on it and who can’t? That don’t make sense to me at all”.
The State of Alabama claims that the law stands that any company that owns the mineral rights to someone’s land automatically has permission to drill underground, without needing any outside approval. Despite the Kennedys understanding this law, they believe that they should receive some form of compensation.
This report is catching the eye of many during a time when there are similar battles on a much grander scale currently taking place at Standing Rock. According to reports, Big Oil has used the power of the US government in order to seize land rights, claiming that it is for “critical energy infrastructure”, despite underlying reasons of gaining oil supplies for big profits.
IMAGE CREDIT: Wikimedia