Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Gas drilling royalty group opposes bill on Corbett's desk

An organization of landowners who have royalty agreements with natural gas drilling companies are asking Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett to veto a bill that they fear
will lead to a goal prized by the gas industry--forced pooling.

The Associated Press reports today:
The National Association of Royalty Owners said last-minute changes made during the weekend to a Senate bill could allow drilling companies to use decades-old mineral leases to force current landowners to accept Marcellus Shale drilling under their property. Trevor Walczak, vice president of the association's Pennsylvania chapter, said Corbett shouldn't sign the bill in its current form, though the group normally favors oil and gas drilling.
Walczak said the impact of the bill could ultimately be similar to so-called forced pooling. That's when a drilling company can force some landowners to accept drilling if many surrounding ones have agreed to leases.
The new legislation would only apply to people with existing oil and gas leases. It would means heirs to leases signed decades ago for traditional drilling could be forced to accept horizontal shale gas drilling, which can extend thousands of feet from a well, even under land owned by neighbors, who also would be forced to accept the drilling,
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George Jugovic, an environmental attorney with Penn Future also criticized the legislation, saying that it
seeks to bind landowners to decades-old leases "whenever it benefits the company," instead of requiring new individual contracts for the shale gas drilling. Jugovic said the legislation could be "the first step toward pooling."

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports:
Gov. Tom Corbett has 10 days to sign the bill and is evaluating it, a spokesman said Monday. One of his top aides and Republican leaders did help push its passage, said Rep. Garth Everett, R-Lycoming County.
Everett drafted the amendment and has — along with industry officials and Republican leaders in Harrisburg — tried to distance it from pooling law. This is different because it doesn't force people to have gas drilling if they haven't signed up for gas drilling, supporters said. It applies only to people who have old gas leases that are silent about whether their land can be combined with other land.

Related environmental news stories:
Pittsburgh embracing LEED-certified green building 
Gas drilling royalty owners oppose new Pa. bill 
Bill allowing easier pooling of gas well drilling leases draws criticism 


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