I have been studying this issue gathering information and hearing testimony the past 2 years. Here is my summary of facts and observations.
Having read exerpts of gas land leases old and new, they are not leases as most would consider with a definitive end date. They are in my opinion land grabs where the property owner gives up many rights and say as to the stewardship of the land if drilling were to commence. Even the then attorney general agrees with my accessment:
“Many of these companies use their size and extensive resources to manipulate individual property owners who often cannot afford to hire a private attorney. This land grab practice must stop.” NYS General Attorney Andrew Cuomo.
Most gas land leases don’t just end on a specified date. If no drilling “operations” have started which extend the lease indefinitely, there are many hoops the property owner has to correctly go through in hopes of maybe ending the lease. For example, the original gas company you signed a lease from may have sold it’s interest or parts of it not having to notify you of this. One property owner had six different companies with a vested interested that he had to send a letter of termination to each within a window of time at the supposed end of his contract. He had to go to the county clerks office and research who all had a lien on the deed to find the six companies. If he missed notifying one, his contract would have extended.
I have seen talking points for gas sales people instructing them to purposely deceive and avoid certain topics when selling these land contracts.
I have struggled with the risks, ( i.e. Town of Brookfield incident, Bradford County PA real horry stories and Vosberg Rd Oct 2010), company’s handling of issues and lack of cooperation, problems obtaining loans or refinancing if a gas lease contract exists or with your neighbors, violating some mortgage contracts if you sign a gas lease, homeowners policies excluding pollution liability if something goes wrong, the industry being exempt from key components of the clean air and drinking water act, 70% or more of the water and deadly cocktail solutions remaining in the ground after companies leave, property right issues over the compulsory integration law and a host of other issues.
I took an all day trip down to PA recently south of Wilkes Barre stopping in small town cafes asking people about their thoughts regarding this matter. I found that alot of people who signed leases regretted it not wishing to renew their leases knowing what they know now. One thing is for sure where I went: the issue has divided communities and even a local church. I haven’t made up my mind “totally”, but I personally could not sign a gas lease. I could not risk my neighbors water supply, be a venue for the gas company to encroach upon their property through compulsory integration and destroying the peaceful tranquility we now enjoy and treasure with hundreds of semi trucks coming and going along with a compressor running 24/7.
The bigger issue is does it rise to the level of being a public safety concern that necessitates government to ban if not restrict the practice of natural gas hydrofracking? The latter is definite. I believe the ban should affect watershed areas for sure. If counties or towns want to legislate banning the practice, they should be allowed to do so. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the lawsuit with the Town of Dryden where a ban has been passed and the gas industry is suing them saying it is unlawful to do so having no jurisdiction on the matter.
We have alot to give thanks for here in Madison County. We live in a country that is still free where government and industry cannot silence free and virtuous people. We were given by our founding fathers a republic. Benjamin Franklin said, “A republic, madam, if you can keep it”. Keeping that republic requires respect for the values that contributed to this now two century old experiment where unalienable rights come not from government but from Divine Providence and therefore cannot be taken way. That’s the idea anyways. Man has slowly been eroding those values and rights thinking a few intellectual elite know better how to manage our lives, property and economy. Though some of us will have differing opinions on issues, may we act with God’s love in our hearts towards one another as the democratic process on display seeks to minimize man’s vices and maximizes our respect for one another.
The following video gives us a wealth of information from people who have drilling going on and testimony from those living in Bradford County PA where it has been heavy. It’s about 41 minutes long, but if you are looking for an education regarding the matter, this is worth viewing.
Whatever your opinions regarding the matter, I urge you to contact Assemblyman Magee, Senator Valesky, Gov. Cuomo, Town Supervisors & officials and the DEC voicing those opinions respectfully. DEC will be coming out with their findings in December that will impact us all.