EPA-Bashing Judge in Fracking Case Recuses Himself, Predictably Blames the Media

Categories: Legal Battles

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It must be codified somewhere in the Conservative's Guide to Crisis Management: Ensnared in scandal? Come across like an uninformed buffoon? Or are you a judge whose campaign fliers dispelled any appearance of impartiality in a really important case? Just blame it on the media.

Sarah Palin became a journo-castigating auteur when she labeled Katie Couric's softballs "gotcha" questions. Herman Cain laid his allegedly aggressive sexual overtures and imploded presidential campaign on our collective shoulders. Now Judge Trey Loftin, the Parker County district judge who, until last week, held down the bench in one of the messiest, most vengeful fracking contamination cases we've ever heard of, claims the merest whiff of impropriety, intensified by media coverage, required his voluntary removal from the case.

In other words, this little ditty distributed as part of his unsuccessful re-election bid for the district post had absolutely nothing at all to do with the odor of canonical contravention swirling around him: "The EPA, using falsified evidence provided by a liberal activist environmental consultant, accused and fined a local gas driller of contaminating wells. Obama's EPA backed down only after Judge Trey Loftin ruled that the evidence was 'deceptive.'"

Loftin was referencing the case of Steve Lipsky, the Parker County homeowner who sued Fort Worth-based Range Resources for contaminating his water well during its fracking operations beneath his property. Loftin punted, ruling that Lipsky would have to sue Range in an Austin court. The ruling was a death sentence, though, because the window in which to file had already closed. Yet when Range filed a countersuit for defamation, the judge denied Lipsky's motion to dismiss and ruled that his video of fire issuing from a garden hose attached to the head-space of his water well was "deceptive" because there was no water coming from the hose -- a fact immediately apparent to anyone who watches more than two seconds of it. A few months later, the EPA withdrew its endangerment order against Range, which agreed to sample surrounding water wells for one year. The judge fancifully claimed credit for the agency's withdrawal.

Loftin was promptly flamed both on this blog and in the national press for bragging about his rulings against Lipsky while the case remains in his court. How, Unfair Park asked, was Lipsky supposed to get a fair shake if the judge's best campaign plank involves crowing about how he really stuck it to him? Nay, Loftin wrote in his recusal letter to the state administrative judge, 'tis the media attention that has forced him to bow out: "Should I not be recused and remain on the case and later rule for the plaintiffs, I believe it will have the appearance that because I have been allegedly bullied by the media on behalf of the plaintiffs, I am afraid to rule against them. Conversely, should I rule against the plaintiffs, it may have the appearance that I am vindictive against the plaintiffs for filing a motion and participating in election related media attacks."

If that's the case, why exactly was "Rush Limbaugh congratulating Parker County's own Trey Loftin" again?

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3 comments
RTGolden
RTGolden

It is because the conservative movement is no longer even remotely connected to conservative values or issues.  This is why so many moderate conservatives have left the republican party. (incidentally, the same phenomenon is happening in the democratic party, moderate liberals are leaving the party in droves and turning independent.)  The republican party has had to resort to hijacking the original tea party movement and filling those ranks with ultra right wing religious hacks and virulent racists.  Currently, the democrats enjoy the position of being the less reprehensible of two thoroughly corrupt options. The republicans (not conservatives, there IS a difference) are intent on protecting the oil and gas industry because the oil and gas industry is their lifeline, monetarily.  Sure they get support from other big corporate giants, but it is the oil and gas industry that bring it all together.  Our economy, like it or not, runs on oil for the time being.  Thus all big corporations run on oil as well.  Oil and oil refining by-products, power the plants that make things, power the means to transport those things to the market, power the consumer into the market, and provide raw materials for many industries (including Apple, for all the Occupy jackasses who were happily blogging away on their IPads about the EVIL big corporations)  Oil and gas industry leaders support republicans because republicans can be counted on to promote legislation advantageous to oil and gas companies.  The EPA is easy to vilify (as are all government agencies) because we don't see them as people, but as mysterious entities with the authority to enhance or restrict our freedoms without our consent or even the participation of the citizenry. So you see, Oil and Gas, they give us stuff, like jobs, IPads and big 4x4 trucks with a rebel flag in the window and Molly Hatchett blaring from the Sparkomatic.  EPA takes stuff away, like freedoms and jobs and probably Molly Hatchett too. Tune in next week for an exciting review of Joe Biden's plan to infest emerald green St Augustine lawns with chickweed and other drought tolerant weeds.

Montemalone
Montemalone

 Anything that puts money in cons pockets while simultaneously doing harm to others is a hat trick. The fact that all this fracking is a ponzi about to explode like some of the wells is just icing. Lots of investors bought shares in Chesapeake and all the other drillers hoping to strike it rich. They won't. But the guys that sold the stock already are.

Citizen Kim
Citizen Kim

What a tool.  When this guy's term ends, mark my words within 24 hours he will be a highly paid employee of Range or some associated anti-EPA think tank. Its Don Hill done legally.

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