Colbert slams oil industry for gag order on children (video)

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Late-night satirical newsman Stephen Colbert took aim at Range Resources and the hydraulic fracturing business Thursday, calling out a gag order placed on two children whose parents had claimed the family suffered health problems from shale gas activity next to their farm.

The transcript of the 2011 legal settlement between the Pennsylvania family and Range Resources, a Fort Worth-based natural gas producer, was released recently and revealed a lifetime gag order on the family, including their 7-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son.

Colbert mocked the settlement agreement, which also included a $750,000 payment to the family. The family agreed never to discuss the Marcellus Shale or hydraulic fracturing, according to an Associated Press report.

“Because, if a tree falls in the forest and you pay the family who heard it not to talk, then it didn’t make a sound,” Colbert said. “Paying for silence is catching on like tap fire.”

Colbert, whose Comedy Central character is a politically conservative news commentator, played a string of upbeat analyst comments trumpeting the impact of the nation’s natural gas boom — cheap gas, new jobs and the prospect of energy independence.

But Colbert followed the “fracking party” with clips from homeowners bemoaning health troubles, environmental problems, and flaming faucets that they say were caused by nearby oil and gas operations.

“America has found the goose that lays the golden egg,” Colbert said. “Unfortunately, it’s pooping all over our house.”

Watch the rest of the segment on the Colbert Report:

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