EARTHWORKS

Gas leasing: if you're going to do it, do it right

Nadia Steinzor's avatar
By Nadia Steinzor

October 19, 2010

When the landman comes knocking, it s tempting to open the door wide. The promises made can be beguiling: fast cash, payments for years to come, and hardly any change on your property. Just sign up now

But harsh reality can set in fast. Maybe it s a road built right behind the house or through a crop field. Or barrels of toxic chemicals stored next to a drinking well. Perhaps the wastewater pond wasn t fenced, so thirsty livestock got sick. And when the royalty check arrives, it s far smaller than expected.

Across the Marcellus Shale region and beyond, there s abundant evidence that a rush to drill without strong regulations causes environmental and health problems. Less well-known is how the rush to lease in the absence of information, legal advice, and safeguards is harming many landowners, as well as their neighbors and communities. 

For more than a decade, OGAP has worked to inform property owners about their rights and what to consider before signing a lease most recently at landowner workshops in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Citizens turned out to hear how leases can contain legally binding guidelines for precisely how and where gas development occurs. They learned from OGAP staff about what s happening across the Marcellus region and nationwide. Attorney and leasing expert Bob Miller detailed what protective leases can look like, and why we all benefit when they exist. Petroleum accountant Mary Ellen Denomy explained the fine print of gas payments and how to make sure that companies pay landowners what they deserve. These presentations provide key information for anyone considering leasing or interested in leasing practices.

OGAP is all too aware of the many problems wrought by oil and gas development and works much too hard to prevent and solve them to be in the business of encouraging leasing. But we also know that because many people make the choice to lease, it s far preferable to have it done in a way that protects land, water and air quality, and health, and which doesn t leave impacted landowners financially high and dry.

Let s face it gas companies rarely do the right thing voluntarily on their own. They usually have to be pushed (and pushed) by policymakers, landowners, and the public to drill responsibly. This is the only way to keep citizens in the driver s seat, ready to put on the brakes, as the gas development train rushes down the tracks.

Tagged with: protective leases, marcellus shale, leasing, landowner rights, best practices

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