OH Budget Bill Blocks Forced Pooling of Public Lands

Ohio is about to pass and adopt it’s latest biennial budget. Part of the budget bill includes language to exempt Ohio’s city and town parks from the state’s unitization (i.e. forced pooling) laws. In Ohio, if 65% of the landowners in a proposed unit have agreed to lease their land for oil or gas drilling, the other landowners in the unit can be forced to join the unit to allow drilling under (not on) their land. There are all sorts of requirements before forced pooling occurs, including a $10,000 fee paid by the driller, and a hearing to review efforts made to enroll said recalcitrant landowners. But in the end, it is possible to force landowners who don’t want drilling, to have it. The justification is that those who don’t want it are harming those who do want it by not agreeing to join the unit. Should the action of someone with a few acres deny benefits to all of his neighbors? We’re not saying we support the concept of forced pooling–just giving you our best interpretation of the arguments used to support it. We understand those arguments. We also understand the sanctity of private property. Until now, local towns and municipalities in Ohio were treated like any other landowner. But now, with the new budget, they will get a special exemption. Local municipalities cannot be forced to participate–unless they want to participate–in a drilling unit…

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