Aubrey McClendon died the way he lived; the subject of intense speculation and controversy. The former CEO of Chesapeake Energy Corp. died on March 2, the day after he was indicted for bid rigging. He was alone in his Chevy Tahoe when it left the road and crashed in an overpass support. The vehicle was engulfed in flames, and McClendon did not survive.
His death is the subject of debate because it came so closely on the heels of his indictment for bid rigging. McClendon was only 56, and in reasonably good health. Data from his vehicle’s onboard computer raises more questions than it answers about the circumstances of the wreck. KFOR News Channel 4 reported that McClendon may have tried tapping his brakes before the crash, but that there were no tire tracks on the road.
The legacy he left behind
According to the New York Daily News, “McClendon became a billionaire while he ran Chesapeake Energy Corps. and was known for his ruthless business tactics and for pushing the use of hydraulic fracturing technology, also known as ‘fracking,’ to aggressively extract oil in nearly every shale gas field in the U.S.”
The current widespread use of fracking has created jobs while devastating the land. His ruthless practices made energy more affordable and created much-needed jobs in Oklahoma and elsewhere. With the decreased energy prices came an increase in earthquake frequency and damage. Fracking release dangerous chemicals into the water and the ground soil. There is still no way to fully process the waste materials, which can pollute the air and the lungs of workers.
As attorneys who have dedicated their lives to helping injured oil field workers, the legacy is a double-edged sword. We know how dangerous fracking can be, and yet we cannot deny that, for good or ill, it has helped our state to grow economically. The jobs he created helped our friends and families, and the decreased energy cost meant more money for food and other necessities. As the Huffington Post says, “Oklahoma has been oil and gas country since before it was a state.” It’s in our blood, in our history. About 20% of our people are employed in the industry in some way. It is, literally, our lifeblood.
There is no right or wrong answer here. There is only loss, and our thoughts are with the McClendon family in this time of their grief.
At Stipe Law Firm, we fight every day to protect the rights of everyone in Oklahoma. From oil field workers to car and truck accident victims, our experienced team works hard to make sure that justice is served, and that you and your family get the compensation they need to recover from any incident. When you need us, we invite you to visit our office in McAlester or use our contact form at your convenience.