Pennsylvania State Senator Gene Yaw from Williamsport is proposing several bills that will address ongoing concerns from landowners about drilling in the Marcellus Shale in PA. Among the items he is proposing:
- Forced pooling of properties that are already leased to drilling companies. Some drilling companies will not allow drilling on land they control located near other drilling operations, simply as a means to obstruct a competitor. Yaw is proposing a law that would remedy the situation. He notes this has nothing to do with private landowners and those who have not leased their land for drilling. Forced pooling is not in the cards for them (at least with Yaw’s proposed legislation). It only applies to land already leased by drilling companies.
- Yaw also wants to correct the hotel tax loophole. There is an extreme housing shortage for drilling company workers newly relocated either short- or long-term to the state. So drilling companies have rented hotel and motel rooms for workers in stretches up to six months. A room rental beyond 30 days is exempt from a three percent county tax on the room. Yaw wants to fix it. Counties are being unfairly hit by the loophole according to Yaw.
- A proposal to let landowners renegotiate leases for their property when a drilling company is drilling under only a portion of the land and not all of it, preventing the landowner from realizing the full potential from their land. The proposed law gives them the right to lease the unused portion of their land to another company for drilling.
- Require a detailed listing of deductions made by the drilling company on royalty statements, so landowners can see what expenses have been taken out.
- State certification for all metering devices used to monitor Marcellus gas wells.
- A measure to let property owners regain gas and mineral rights for their land if they do not currently own those rights. If the current owner of gas and mineral rights has not exercised those rights by “developing” the land (actively drilling for gas or minerals) for a period of 21 years or more, the rights would be considered “abandoned” and would revert to the current owner of the land.
- Restore the authority for counties to levy property taxes on producing wells.*
Seems to MDN there’s quite a lot of good, and some bad, in that list of legislative measures. What do Pennsylvanians think? Leave a comment below and let us know.
*The Standard Speaker (Jan 29) – Senator preparing drilling bills