Legislation allowing drilling companies to pool landowners' parcels into gas-drilling units, passed amid the last-minute state-budget rush, wrongly puts expediency for drillers ahead of private-property rights, which it violates.
The legislation requires that all pooled parcels already be leased for drilling. Proponents say that means it won't force drilling where landowners don't want it. But that's a simplistic view, because this legislation will leave many landowners at a distinct disadvantage when a driller wants to pool their parcels.
They're landowners who signed drilling leases years ago, when few such contracts, if any, addressed pooling — and long before modern techniques such as fracking enabled the rise of the Marcellus shale drilling industry. The legislation lets drillers pool land so long as parcels' lease contracts don't specifically prohibit it.
That deprives landowners of leverage they ought to have. Instead of renegotiating old lease contracts to obtain larger payments or other benefits in exchange for allowing pooling, they will be at drillers' mercy.
Trevor Walczak, vice president of the National Association of Royalty Owners' Pennsylvania chapter, calls this law's passage “the point in time we can look back to where PA gas law began to prey upon the people rather than protect.” Time will tell if he's right about that bigger picture, but trampling private-property rights so drillers can access more land from one well is a regrettable step in that direction.
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.
- Sunday pops
- The Box
- The visa flap: A prevailing stench
- The student-loan balloon
- Saturday essay: Anatomy of a backache
- Kittanning Council conundrum: Why disband authority?
- The Connellsville WCVI building: Another fine mess
- Voter ID: A case reaffirmed
- Mon-Yough Laurels & Lances
- Alle-Kiski Laurels & Lances
- Unsolved McKeesport murders raise concerns