Fractavists force PA landowners to abandon gas and oil leasing

By ACSH Staff — Jul 18, 2013
One group of landowners who wish to exploit the gas/oil reserves beneath their property are being prevented from doing so by "environmentalists"

FrackingRigOne group of landowners who wish to exploit the gas/oil reserves beneath their property are being prevented from doing so by "environmentalists" who, as always, know best what's good for other folks, and tell them so.

Hess Corp. and Newfield Exploration Co. sent a letter to landowners that notified them their leases are no longer in effect, according to the Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance, which negotiated a master lease on behalf of more than 1,300 families and businesses. Two years after the initial leasing agreements were signed in 2008, the DRBC put a moratorium into effect, resulting in what amounts to a ban on fracking in those several PA counties near the river, including Wayne. The landowners now stand to lose the $187 million second phase payments.

"Extreme green" staffers of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) are purposely delaying adoption of gas drilling regulations, the head of a Pennsylvania property owners' group said Tuesday, after the producers declined to renew a multi-million dollar lease agreement for the PA region s Marcellus Shale acreage.

"The commission is allowing itself to be held hostage by the media and an emotion-driven, anti-drilling community made up mostly of people from outside our region and by activist staffers within the DRBC who are exercising their personal biases," Bob Rutledge, executive director of the Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance, said in a letter to the DRBC.

The commission's chairwoman, Michele Siekerka, said in response that staff have spent thousands of hours reviewing studies, developing regulations, assessing water quality and performing other tasks intended to "move the natural gas process forward." The property owners' group has threatened to sue the commission over the moratorium.

ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross was disgusted by this regulatory stonewalling. We have seen this process repeatedly here in New York state, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo has apparently decided to keep on reviewing data accumulated over and over again by his environmental and health officials before allowing fracking in NY. Since the sixty-plus years of safe shale drilling plus the recent intense scrutiny of the process provoked by activists trying (and succeeding) to keep drilling far away from their own homes has found no evidence of contamination or health effects, the obstruction is clearly political, nothing more. I feel sorry for the Wayne county landowners who have effectively been denied the free use of their own property by the enviro-led DRBC.