Wastewater firm sues man for his biblical anti-fracking billboard; defenders cite free speech

IndustriesAssociated Press

An Ohio man who uses a biblical reference and a statement against "poisoned waters" on billboards opposing local deep-injection gas wells is facing a legal threat from the well's Texas operator.

Austin, Texas-based Buckeye Brine alleges in a July lawsuit that the billboards paid for by Michael Boals contain false and defamatory attacks against its two wells. They dispose of contaminated wastewater from oil and gas drilling.

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The 55-year-old Boals refuses to pull the billboards. He says stating they "pump poisoned waters" underfoot is true. An environmental legal group argues quoting prophecy from Revelation — on men dying from waters "made bitter" — is his free-speech right.

The company says its well is safe and legal and the messages are misleading. It has taken its complaint to the sign owner.