Gas Industry Lobbies for Eminent Domain

Gas industry lobbyists push to attach ‘Forced Pooling’ clause to Severance Tax

So you don’t want to lease your land to the drillers? It may not matter if the Gas Industry has it’s way.

As a concession to a gas drilling severance tax, the industry is pushing hard for a ‘Forced Pooling’ measure to be included, which basically means they set up shop on neighboring property and tap the natural gas under your land from there. They are also pushing to remove any local zoning ordinances.

Chesapeake Energy’s regional Vice President, David Spigelmyer said ‘forced pooling’ is a key element of any legislation the state’s Marcellus drillers could support, and that such a measure is being discussed right now by lawmakers in Harrisburg.

Spigelmyer says he does not expect such a measure to be adopted in the next few days, but does believe that an agreement will stem from the current PA Budget fiasco.

Republicans recently agreed to pass a Gas Severance tax if Democrats agreed on the current budget proposal. The Gas Industry seems to have monopolized on the budget problem by injecting their own ‘forced pooling’ requests into the debate.

The Gas Industry is battling a Severance Tax, but says it would consider supporting it if ‘forced pooling’ were adopted with the tax. They are also calling for limited municipal ordinances that attempt to regulate where gas drilling can occur – overriding any local zoning laws or statutes.

Drilling rig on a school playground anyone?

Forced Pooling is essentially Eminent Domain wrapped up in a little unfamiliar phrase. It would allow the gas companies to extract natural gas from beneath land that is not leased. The property owners would still be reimbursed for such, but at a rate determined by the statute.

Opponents say it’s a direct violation of an individual’s right, and many questions have been raised, such as how to determine how much gas was extracted, and how much such property owners would be paid.

State Rep. Camille George, D-Houtzdale, called it a “controversial, ugly provision through which an intrusive government would be depriving an individual’s property rights to benefit private companies.”

If the Gas Industry has it their way, they will be able to drill practically anywhere without much regulation or oversight.

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