After 7 Years of No Drilling, PA Families Sue to End Contract

Seven Beaver County, PA families filed a lawsuit yesterday in Common Pleas Court accusing O&G Investments of Wooster, Ohio of not drilling on their land (and not paying them) for the past seven years. The lawsuit also names Chesapeake Energy, who purchased the leases from O&G last year and who now, “at the last minute,” is trying to tie up the land and continue the contract by moving in equipment to start a drill pad—even though they haven’t received any permits to drill.

Seven families are fighting to stop a natural gas company’s last-minute drilling plans on their land before the company’s lease expires next month.

The McRoberts family woke up Tuesday morning to find tree-cutters lined up along their property in Darlington, Beaver County, getting ready to clear a quarter-mile path to a proposed gas well site.

"Four generations of McRoberts have farmed this land, and we pay the taxes and they’re going to tell us what they’re going to do? And they lied from the beginning," said property owner Susan McRoberts.

When Channel 4 Action News’ Jim Parsons went to the McRoberts’ property, the tree-cutters left without cutting any branches.

"Chesapeake (Energy) doesn’t even have a permit to drill this well, and yet they want to come in here and cut these folks’ trees down without any compensation," said McRoberts family attorney Steve Townsend.

Townsend filed a lawsuit Tuesday against O & G Investment of Ohio, which signed gas leases with the McRoberts and six other families in 2005.

O & G sold those leases last year to Chesapeake Energy, which is also named in the suit.

The suit accuses O & G of "intentionally and fraudulently misrepresenting to the plaintiffs that (it) would reasonably develop the mineral resources underlying their land."

"They promised these people the world and didn’t pay a dime, and took their land and held it hostage for years," said Townsend.

With the leases set to expire next month, the McRoberts are trying to stop Chesapeake from conducting a last-minute drilling operation.*

*Channel 4 WTAE Pittsburgh (Mar 27, 2012) – Property Owners Fighting Gas Company’s Last-Minute Drilling Plans

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