Pryor Oil Company is an independent oil and gas production company with a history of successful wildcatting, scrupulously engineered facilities, and environmental responsibility. It was a growing company with a bright future, finding new domestic oil, creating new jobs, and finally gaining financial stability in a volatile industry. For over seventeen years its record with environmental agencies was spotless.
On July 19, 2002 Pryor Oil brought in the biggest well the Eastern United States had seen in decades. So big, that the drilling contractor couldn't contain the pressure. When the well blew out, Pryor suddenly had the biggest challenge the company had ever faced. When the oil caught fire, it became the most spectacular event in Tennessee in years. Within the first 24 hours of the blowout, the company recovered over 90% of the spilled oil and brought in renowned oil well firefighters Boots & Coots. Despite what originally looked like a disaster, optimism ran high that the fire would be extinguished and the clean-up completed in a matter of days; and that the well could be saved and completed as one of the most prolific producers east of the Mississippi River.
And then the EPA showed up. On July 20 the EPA's OSC (On Scene Coordinator) Barbara Caprita arrived, declared the site "federalized", ordered all clean-up operations stopped, and left to find her motel and get a good night's sleep. On July 21, after letting the fire rage and the oil soak into the ground all night, she proceeded to conduct a meeting, and then another meeting, and yet another meeting. Ignoring the advice of local oil workers who had things under control until she arrived, she proceeded to orchestrate a spectacle of useless spending on destructive terraforming until the fire simply burned itself out on the fourth day. In the meantime, she turned a $150,000.00 clean-up into a $1,500,000.00 screw-up, and instigated the legal and bureaucratic machinery that would tax every ounce of Pryor's resources and will.
Any citizen who thinks the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or due process of law will protect them from bureaucratic and governmental oppression needs to read this story. Pryor Oil Co., Inc., in pursuit of the American dream, was sucker punched by one jackbooted storm trooper in pursuit of personal glory, cloaked with unfettered discretion to wield the full power of the government without fear of accountability. Pryor did not, however, go gently into the good night, expending virtually all of its time, resources and assets in pursuit of the justice and fairness that are, at least on paper, guaranteed to all citizens. In practice and in reality, the fundamental rights penned by the founding fathers have become hollow words whose substance has been drained while our attention was diverted elsewhere or, perhaps, simply out of complacency. What was done to Pryor Oil Company could be done to anyone. It's a story that, hopefully, will call out from the pages of this website to someone with the conscience and the authority to finally halt the waste of government time, resources and tax dollars expended not to protect the environment, but rather to line the pockets of favored contractors, advance the careers of government lackeys, and avoid accountability for grievous abuse of authority through a strategy of vilifying and, perhaps ultimately, destroying a responsible corporate citizen and, in the process, another piece of the American dream.
We hope you'll take a few moments to browse, and a few more moments to think about freedom and due process of law, and then let us know if you can help us show they still stand for something in this country. If you can't help, we still appreciate your taking the time to visit, and hope our story will remind you of the need to be vigilant about what it was that set America apart and made it better: the inalienable rights that found expression in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, preserved for us through the years by patriots who shed their blood in the belief that these principles are worth dying for. A sentiment shared by Pryor Oil Company.