By opposing "forced pooling," Gov. Tom Corbett is helping Pennsylvania strike the proper balance between the rapidly developing Marcellus shale natural gas industry and property owners' rights.
Common in states with established oil and gas industries, forced pooling compels property owners to join neighbors in agreeing to gas leases. Drillers want it in Pennsylvania, too, saying it would mean fewer wells and more efficient extraction -- and calling it "fair pooling," the Scranton Times-Tribune reports. The governor's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission also favors the practice.
While it might be "fair" to drillers, it wouldn't be to property owners.
Pennsylvanians who don't own their land's mineral rights have no argument to make. But for those who do, forced pooling would violate their right to keep their property free of drilling -- a misuse of state power that Gov. Corbett opposes.
"I do not believe in private eminent domain, and forced pooling would be exactly that," he told an industry gathering in April, according to ProPublica.
Corbett -- a staunch drilling supporter -- must honor his pledge not to sign forced pooling legislation. Hopefully, he will defend Pennsylvanians' property rights as resolutely as he's otherwise defended the economically promising shale gas industry to date.
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