Pennsylvania DEP again delays hearing on driller's pooling request
A court challenge to the law that allows drillers to extract gas from beneath properties without owners' approval will delay a hearing involving a company's request to do that in Lawrence and Mercer counties.
Houston-based Hilcorp Energy Co. reached agreements with most owners of gas rights in the area where it wants to drill and asked the state Department of Environmental Protection for access to gas under the remaining properties as part of a 1961 law that allows what's called “forced pooling.”
The DEP appointed attorney Michael L. Bangs of Cumberland County as a hearing officer to take testimony on the request and issue a ruling. He delayed a hearing in March because some homeowners weren't notified. He delayed another hearing set for Wednesday and Thursday because several property owners asked to be heard in the hearing.
On Friday, those property owners — Suzanne and Martin Matteo, Robert and Carole Valentine, and Steve Emery, all of West Middlesex — challenged the 1961 law in Commonwealth Court. DEP Secretary Christopher Abruzzo on Monday asked Bangs to put the hearing on hold while state judges consider the property owners' challenge.
David Conti is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7981 or firstname.lastname@example.org.