Big News: PA Supreme Court Decides Shale Mineral Rights Case

stop press The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has just ruled on a case with huge consequences for the natural gas drilling industry in the state. We won’t keep you in suspense: the ruling is favorable to the drilling industry.

In Butler v Powers, the Supreme Court justices took up the issue of whether or not natural gas rights should be part of the broader concept of “mineral rights” in PA. In most states when a deed or lease agreement is signed for mineral rights it includes natural gas as well, on the theory that the gas comes from a mineral—shale rock. But that has not been the case in PA. Going all the way back to a case in 1882, PA has had “the Dunham rule” which separates natural gas rights from the broader concept of mineral rights (for background on the Dunham rule, see the MDN article PA Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Critical O&G Case).

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