State Senate OKs legislation to let drilling companies pool land
HARRISBURG — A bill allowing drilling companies to pool land from some landowners into gas-drilling units is on its way to Gov. Tom Corbett after Senate approval.
The bill was approved 48-2 on Sunday with no debate.
The legislation could impact shale drilling operations in Western Pennsylvania, where many people signed oil and gas contracts years before shale drilling became a major industry.
“A requirement of the bill is that all the units must be under lease,” said Drew Crompton, chief counsel for Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson County. “No one is forced. Each (owner) has agreed to lease for gas drilling.”
But the bill will affect people who have not necessarily agreed to lease their land for modern shale drilling.
Experts have said it's likely to affect old contracts that don't mention whether drillers can combine their leases into the large pools that cover several parcels of land, common in today's drilling.
If it passes, it will give the drilling companies the right to pool leases as long as their contracts don't specifically prohibit it, which older contracts typically don't, experts have said.
That creates a problem for the landowners by undercutting the leverage they would otherwise have to renegotiate old contracts, legal experts and landowners' advocates said recently. Drillers want to put those leases into larger pools so they can access more land from one well, and when old contracts don't permit that, the landowners could ask for larger payments or other benefits in exchange for allowing it, they said.
“This is the paradigm shift in politics, the point in time we can look back to where PA gas law began to prey upon the people rather than protect,” Trevor Walczak, vice president of the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Association of Royalty Owners, wrote in an email.
“The lawmakers have blatantly over-reached ignoring the need for checks & balances,” Walczak wrote. “Unfortunately, this is just a taste of what is to come. The rules need to catch up (to) the technology, but the rules need to be drafted by the people.”
The provision allowing drilling companies to pool the land was amended into the bill and approved by the House early Saturday before it was fast-tracked for a vote in the Senate.
Timothy Puko is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7991 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Josh Fatzick is an intern with the Legislative Correspondents Association.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers notebook: Linebacker Timmons hoping for contract extension
- Four helicopters respond to Route 51 crash in Rostraver
- Miami (Fla.) gets prepared to take on ‘physical’ Pitt team
- Steelers plan to use smart pass rush against Seattle QB Wilson
- Penguins 4th line is showing promise
- School lunch group hopes to revise rules it calls impractical, too restrictive
- Western Pa. students bristle at changing menu choices
- Small stores take big gamble by not upgrading credit card readers
- Century Inn owner hopes to reopen Washington County landmark, gutted by fire, by end of next year
- Carrick crime ‘blitz’ shows early signs of success
- Mon City man arrested for alleged assault