Blazing Well

...our hopes, our dreams, our future...

If you are here because Pryor Oil or the Howard-White well was cited by an oil promoter in its prospectus, website or offering materials,

Pryor Oil Company was an independent oil and gas production company in the 1980's and 1990's. It had 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. Unfortunately, the drilling contractor lost pressure control and the well blew out. Pryor Oil suddenly had the biggest challenge the company had ever faced. When the oil caught fire, the inferno was the most spectacular event in Tennessee in years. Within the first 24 hours of the blowout, the company's unprecedented response had 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. It appeared that the fire would be extinguished and the clean-up completed in a matter of days; and that the well would be saved and completed as one of the most prolific producers ever brought in east of the Mississippi River.

And then the EPA showed up. On July 20 the EPA's OSC (On Scene Coordinator), Barbara Caprita, arrived. She declared the site "federalized", ordered all clean-up operations to cease, and then left to find her motel and get a good night's sleep. On July 21, after the fire had raged and the oil had flowed and soaked into the ground all night thanks to her stop order, she returned to the scene and called a meeting of her subordinates. Then she called a meeting of her advisers. Then she called another meeting. Meanwhile fire raged and oil flowed unchecked. Ignoring the advice of the local oilfield workers who had things under control until she arrived the night before, she proceeded to orchestrate a spectacle of destructive terraforming until the fire simply burned itself out on the fourth day. 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 eventually result in the demise of Pryor Oil Company.

Any citizen who thinks the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or due process of law protects them from bureaucratic and governmental oppression needs to read this story. Pryor Oil Company, in pursuit of the American dream, was sucker punched by one jackbooted storm trooper in pursuit of personal advancement, cloaked with unfettered discretion to wield the full power of the government without fear of accountability. Pryor Oil did not, however, go gently into the good night, and expended virtually all of its time, resources and assets in pursuit of the due process and justice that are, at least on paper, guaranteed to all citizens. 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 lost from 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, 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 the site, and a few more moments to think about the importance of the rights that we Americans have come to take for granted. We hope our story reminds you of the need to be vigilant about what set America apart and made it the envy of other nations: the inalienable rights that were given 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 were worth dying for; a sentiment shared by Pryor Oil Company to its dying day.