MDN has written a number of times on the issue of “forced pooling,” which is the concept that a property owner can be forced to allow fracking under their land if a majority of their neighbors have signed leases and a driller wants to drill in a “unit” (usually one square mile or 640 acres) where the reticent landowner owns property.
If there’s a single landowner, or a few landowners in the middle of the unit with a small number of acres who doesn’t want drilling, it can scuttle the deal for neighboring landowners. Most states, including Ohio, have a forced pooling provision. In Ohio it’s called “unitization.” No matter what you call it, MDN (in a departure with industry), believes it’s just plain wrong.
For some time MDN has poked fun at Maryland as being dead last in the race to begin shale gas drilling (behind even New York). We do love Maryland. Once upon a time MDN editor Jim Willis worked in Washington, D.C. for a congresswoman from Maryland. It’s a beautiful state, dominated by water—notably the Chesapeake Bay and of course the Atlantic Ocean. So it stands to reason Marylanders would be sensitive to oil and gas drilling or any kind of activity they perceive might harm their most abundant natural resource—water. (Water is not threatened by drilling—but we understand the natural concerns of Maryland residents.)
Until now, MDN has said there are only two counties in Maryland where any kind of fracking would conceivably happen: Allegany and Garrett. Those two counties, located at the far interior of Maryland and as far from the Chesapeake Bay and coast as you can get in Maryland, have abundant Marcellus Shale beneath them. But an “assessment” recently published by the U.S. Geological Survey of shale basins along the East Coast has changed all that. There are several other shale basins, notably the Taylorsville and Delmarva basins, where there is likely recoverable shale gas in quantity (see a copy of USGS assessment embedded below).
Last week Quinnipiac University released the survey results for the latest New York State poll they conduct periodically. For some time they have asked the same questions regarding shale gas drilling in the state. The results from the latest survey, along with a summary of previous surveys going back one year, are embedded below.
MDN likes to give you the full, unvarnished survey results so you can see for yourself the language used in the questions, and the breakout of the responses between downstate and upstate. What does the latest survey show? What it’s shown for the past year or more: New Yorkers are divided 50/50 on the question of drilling in the Marcellus Shale.
An excellent story in today’s Youngstown (OH) Business Journal covers the massive number of lease transfers taking place in Ohio—specifically in Trumbull and Mahoning counties. At the end of June, both counties received an order to transfer more than 7,000 existing oil and gas leases to a single lease for Chesapeake Energy—and that’s in each county!
The Town of Caroline in (where else?) Tompkins County, NY is getting ready to strip away the property rights of their citizens. All that stands in the way is a sham public hearing and a town board vote and poof—the property rights for thousands of residents—guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution—are gone. This is something that is happening (distressingly) with an increasing frequency in New York State.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a story in today’s edition on the recurring theme that dry gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale is slowing down in Pennsylvania and is shifting to wet gas drilling in the Utica Shale in eastern Ohio and southwestern PA.
Last week the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, the “appellate” court in PA, ruled in favor of seven towns who had sued the state over the zoning portion of the newly enacted Act 13 drilling law (see this MDN story). At the time Gov. Tom Corbett said he would appeal the decision and he has made good on his word. The case now heads to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
The Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) in Pittsburgh has developed a new certificate program in Land Administration in cooperation with drilling company EQT Corp. Land administrators make an average annual salary of $60,000 and work in an energy company’s land records, division orders or contracts area to protect the company’s oil and gas assets (leases, rights-of-way and wells).