Northeast PA Landowners Discuss Forming Large Gas Coalition

Individual landowners and landowner groups are looking to organize into a large coalition in northeastern Pennsylvania in an effort to promote Marcellus Shale gas drilling in a safe, responsible way and to counter those who want to stop drilling. A small group of landowners met on Tuesday in Wysox (Bradford County), PA to discuss strategy. Tom Shepstone from Energy in Depth Northeast Marcellus Initiative (inaccurately referred to as Tom Shepp in the media article below), addressed the group on the need for large coalition of PA landowners—like the 70,000-member Joint Landowners Coalition of New York.

Approximately 35 people gathered at the Wysox Fire Hall on Tuesday to discuss forming a coalition of landowners in northeastern Pennsylvania that would promote the development of the Marcellus Shale.

Several of those who attended the meeting said a landowners’ coalition is needed to prevent the installation of gas pipelines from being delayed or blocked.

"One of the primary reasons you need a landowners organization is that there are some very determined people who are using pipelines as targets of opportunity," said Tom Shepp, who is a member of the group Energy in Depth. "They’re playing the regulatory agencies, and they are creating a lot of problems."

A large landowners’ group needs to form so that the installation of pipelines can move forward, he said. "Otherwise, there will continue to be delays," he said.

For example, he said, a "very small number of radicals" working with a group called Eco Justice has generated 22,000 letters from citizens to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in opposition to the MARC I line in Bradford and Sullivan counties, Shepp said.

A landowners group is needed to respond to those efforts, he said.

He said that faced with strong opposition to a project, regulatory agencies may take the easy way out and delay a project so that it can undergo further review.

He said that regulatory agencies will be more interested in what landowners have to say, rather than gas companies, on gas development projects.

Joe DuPont of the Towanda area said he came to the meeting because, due to new government regulations, it will now take three-quarters of a year before pipelines will get approved by government regulatory agencies.

Citizens attending the meeting said that pipelines need to be installed so that citizens can receive gas royalties.

The meeting at the Wysox Fire Hall was hosted by a landowners group from northern Luzerne County called Citizens for Cleaner Energy.*

*Towanda The Daily Review (Aug 10, 2011) – Pro-gas landowners group forming