Forced Pooling – An Issue Coming to the Forefront in Pennsylvania

Now that a severance tax is coming to Pennsylvania, natural gas drillers will likely push for a provision called “forced pooling” in PA which makes it easier to gather gas from properties that are not leased but sit in-between other leased land.

The Marcellus Shale natural gas industry wants to see legislation attached to any severance tax adopted by the state that would force property owners who refuse leases to allow drillers to gather the gas beneath their land, an industry coalition leader said Monday.

Calling it the most economical and conservative land-use approach to drilling for gas, David Spigelmyer, Chesapeake Energy’s regional vice president for government relations, said in a Times-Shamrock newspapers editorial board meeting that “forced pooling” is a key element of any legislation the state’s Marcellus drillers could support and is actively being discussed during budget negotiations in the capital.

Such a statute would help avoid an unnecessary proliferation of wells, Spigelmyer said, but critics say it is a form of eminent domain.*

This is an unresolved and complex issue that’s about to become red hot in PA. There are strong arguments on both sides. MDN believes landowners should have the right to allow drilling on and under their land provided it does not harm nearby populations or the environment. It is the constitutional right for citizens of this country to use their land as they see fit. On the other hand, to force a landowner who does not want to lease their land into a pool with their neighbors who have leased, is also unfair. If it means a proliferation of wells and added expense, so be it. The drilling company will have to bear the cost. Citizens should not have to worry that portions of their property will be used against their will—both on the surface and under it. It’s wrong to stop drilling based on irrational fear (as is being done in New York), and it’s equally wrong for drillers to force landowners to allow drilling under their land.

What do you think about forced pooling? Leave a comment below and let us know.

*Wilkes-Barre Citizen’s Voice (June 29) – Gas industry wants access to unleased property

  • Elizabeth

    Forced pooling, or Compulsory Integration as it’s known here in New York, is a primary concern for those who don’t want drilling 500 feet from their home, let alone, to be forced into having poisons crammed under their home without their consent.

    Unfortunately, it is a fear generating tool that is being used by many organizations that claim to be helping landowners (our local cooperative extension to name one) to encourage people to sign leases that are favorable to the landowner rather than receive unfavorable conditions and terms once Compulsory Integration has taken place. This is unconscionable.

    If you don’t want drilling on or under your land…do not be fooled. Do not sign a lease. Your principles and desires as a landowner are first and foremost. Just ask your neighbor who has a lease! That’s what they’ll tell ya!

  • What-The-Frack!

    Let’s tell the whole story, though.

    Like any state, PA caselaw already recognizes the “rule of capture,” allowing the operator to take all the gas that flows to the wellbore, even if it originates from unleased neighbors. Since PA lacks a modern forced pooling statute, these people are not getting paid in any way, shape, or form. Even if these unleased folks are diehard obstructionists, is this fair?

    Also, hydraulic fracturing expands that capture. It’s inevitable that this fracturing activity will be extending inside shale *owned* by parties who never signed a lease. A forced pooling statute is probably going to be necessary in order for industry to operate without a barrage of trespass claims.

    Lastly, your article (and most regular media coverage of this issue) completely fails to distinguish between surface access (which I doubt highly anybody is seeking to force, at least certainly not in the midst of this current political maelstrom!), and horizontal access from a surface location upon a distant neighbor (which is the real question).

    Do we really want to a government policy which encourages needless additional drilling (and needless additional surface impacts)? Do we want a policy which encourages leaving large parts of the resource in the ground? All because a horizontal leg is blocked halfway by a cemetery that has no owner, or by a property owned by an unfindable oil and gas owner, or by a relatively small lot owned by someone who, for whatever reason, simply won’t sign?

  • Angelo

    Up until April 23rd 2010, I was pro-drilling. Buying up hundreds of acres to exploit. Then I met the first two landowners who lost everything to drilling. They had multi-million dollar farms with no debt and perfect credit. Today they can’t get a $10 mortgage from a bank against those properties because banks are not lending against frack-drilled land and neighboring properites. Think ahead a little and you’ll see that this state is headed for disaster. Do you actually believe these scumbag drillers are going to be restrained by boundries when they’re drilling a mile under your property? Do you believe they are going to give landowners accurate flow readings? They have already proven beyond a doubt that they cannot be trusted. And the politicians who think they are so smart are getting pimped by the gas industry. There are going to be a lot of orange jumpsuits and leg irons to go around. I went from investing $300 million in Washington County property to the point where I’m moving everything out of state while the bubble is still inflating. I don’t want to be stuck with properties I can’t use or sell. You all need to do your homework. Investors who put in millions 3 and 4 years ago are taking their profits and reducing their exposure to risk. They know the state and local government of this corrupt bannana republic won’t protect their property rights because they’re sold out to the corporations.

  • What-The-Frack!

    Angelo, I think you’re either misinformed, or a liar.

    Multi-million-dollar farms, with no debt and perfect credit, and now the farmers have “lost everything to drilling,” and can’t get a mortgage?

    Why? Simply because they’re under lease? Or because a gas company has invested millions of dollars to develop their resource, and to create a new income stream?

    I don’t believe it!

  • James E.Sims

    “BULL SHIT” this is more of the ” Marcellus Drilling Companies SCARE TACTICS” TO get every thing and everyone into their net along with some of our “HONORABLE POLITICANS”(as they call themselves)who got this State into such a MESS of Indebtness that they are grabbing at every dollar they can get. Why don,t some of them take a cut in salary for a year or two or why don’t we the People Take the law in “OUR HANDS” and pass a law stating that after a certain amont of time if they can’t balance the budget to our(the People’s} satisfaction after a certain period, they Would be subject to a penalty to their saiaries. It,s Time We The Peopie stood up for



  • concerned

    If you think that Angelo is lying, think again. Unless you live near these large wells or have seen them you could not imagine. Just ask the folk of Hickory and Damascus PA. They promised them the moon and what did they get? Contamenated water, noise and air polution. Streams and ponds destroyed. And what do you think their property is going to be worth? Angelo is right. No bank will lend them a dime. Why, because the banks know their properly is not worth a dime. Would you want to purchase a home that has a gas drill on it? I am for finding alternate energy sources but there was no thought into this drilling process. Our governement (WHO IS SUPPOSE TO BE OUR VOICE) sold Pennsylvania to these gas companies and never asked landowners what they thought or tried to find out the details of drilling. But what they are doing is protecting these companies in everyway they can ex: from disclosing the chemcials they use in the fracking process. If it’s so safe why the big secret. Why were they exempted from the Clean Drinking Water Act? They truck in millions of gallons of water but they only truck out half of what they brougt in. What happen to the rest of the comtamentated water? Does anyone know what the long term effects of fracking is on our health?

    As I look out my window I see tons of trees. It is so beautiful. There is wildlife everywhere. But not for long. You see drilling is coming to my town. 97% of the residents did not what it but that did not matter. Our township supervisors signed the permits behind closed doors. I am so sad because our way of life, the reason we moved to this small town will never be the same. It’s easy to say that you are for drilling until you’re confronted with it up close and personal. If you think this couldn’t happen to you think again. Don’t sit back and do nothing. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Find out everything that you can. And I know that you will be surprised but not plesantly surprised at what you find out. Just ask the people of Hickory and Damascus

  • Angelo

    Hey, What The Frack? Take a minute and click on my name. I’ve spent alot of time and money doing my homework. And I’m more pissed than you can imagine because I was buying farmland to have it drilled. Now I can’t do it. And now I’m moving to Lake Tahoe NV. And that’s going to cost me a lot of money. You watch and see what Pennsylvania will be like in 3 years. It’s going to get “drilled” and “played” alright.

  • concerned

    Angelo, I just read your blog. I had been reading alot about the issue but you have really did a great job. I am going to share with with as many people as I possiblly can. And like you my husband and I are putting out house on the market tomorrow before it is too late. I know that you are moving but please dont’t stop. Help out as much as you can

  • Maryann

    The gas drillers, the PA. politicians are all corrupt. Money is the name of the game for them. They have sold out our state of PA. for 12 pieces of silver. I believe that everyone gets his and her due. Their day is coming if not in this life than in the next. In the meantime my family and I will not lease our acres to these bums and if they force pool those of us who care for this state, they are going against the PA. constitution that they swore to uphold and protect our rights, that means our water, air and environment. They should review the constitution. Some people have it all backwards. If 600 people sign a lease to drill and 1 person does not, the 600 people are violating that 1 persons rights to clean water and clean air and protection of the environment. That is what is important not how much money goes into peoples pockets or how many jobs would be lost. Once our state is contaminated there is no turning back. People I know who have signed leases are kicking themselves for doing so but it’s too late.

  • penna

    their kicking themselves because they signed to early they get 1500 per acher and find out some are getting 4000.

  • Raffly

    For Angelo:
    I just cant believe you, I think u are a liar. Investing 300 million??? what a big BS.
    And if that’s true, why cant u use your land? just because there is gas well on your land? I drove around PA, from wayne county to Washington county, I saw many wells, and one well only needs less then 5 acres area for safety, and those well are not close to any house.
    So many missinformed.
    And btw, landowner got great bonuses from gas company from 2000-5000 per acre, while many of those land worth less than their bonuses.
    I stayed in one campground in the city call EIGHTY FOUR, the owner said they got their land leased, for $3000/acre, soon the well drilled and producing, the land owner will get royalty, what a nice life.
    If the well is dry, the gas company will not continue drilling of course, and the land owner still get bonuses.

    I have land in Michigan, signed lease with Encana, got bonus, andd now they are pulling out of Michigan, I dont know why, I think I am just lucky. Btw the signed bonus is $1,500/acre.

  • me

    Hey Raffly, how about you go and drink the water on all those properties whose wells were poisioned? And yea take a shower in it too and while your at it cook with that tainted water too!Do you really not care about our children and grandchildren’s future? Apparently not, let them get cancer and all other kinds of illness and lets kill all of the wildlife and fish too while we are at it, IDIOT!Oh Yea, it’s always about the money, HUH? And many banks ARE pulling out of the lending, due to drilling! Get YOUR facts straight!!!

  • JRamon

    Forced pooling in Pennsylvania, or Compulsory Integration here in New York, are both by nature another word for Eminent Domain, and as a landowner I’m totally, utterly, against it, hate the term Eminent Domain, hate it with a passion, and those who would use it. I’m on the New York side of the border from Pennsylvania divided by the River in Sullivan County where there is possible gas.

    I see both sides of the issue and that is the conundrum, where is King Solomon when you need him?

    My situation, I’m a naturalist and understands the importance of my forest coupled with the fact I’m also broke but still required to pay my taxes twice a year. There are no grants given to individuals to help maintain your forest or agency’s anywhere that’s willing to help unless your a nonprofit, educational group, government body, and/or a community organization you receive financial help, otherwise you are left to fend for yourself, alone, in a deep recession, and why so many people I feel are turning to the use of their mineral’s rights on the land they own. But making someone submit by force or by any other word’s or method like a legislative act should be considered a capital offense….willful trespassing. EMINENT DOMAIN, HELL NO!

  • Chris Demarco

    This is outrageous! How dare the republicans call the democrats communists and socialists when they force this nonsense down our throats! This is beyond eminent domain, this is pure communism, seizing our property for some so called greater good of saving a gluttonous gas company a few bucks. Corbett has a special place in hell, hypocrite!

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