PA House Should Nuke Anti-Landowner Section 1610 of Budget Bill

In July when the Pennsylvania Senate passed their awful budget bill that includes a variety of new taxes, including a new severance tax on the Marcellus industry, they also slipped in Section 1610 which changes established lease law with respect to oil and gas wells that no longer produce anything (see PA Senate Slips Anti-Landowner Measure into State Budget Bill). Under existing law, when an oil or gas well stops producing–and the landowner quits getting royalty checks–the lease is considered terminated. Done. Finished. Under new Section 1610, drillers can resurrect those dead leases under a couple of conditions. If the landowner doesn’t officially state “your lease is now dead since you’re not producing anything” a driller can quick-like-a-bunny restart production at the well and send the landowner a royalty check, re-starting (or continuing) the existing lease with its existing terms. Or if the driller sends a notice to the landowner stating its intention to drill a new well on the property, and if the landowner doesn’t object (within a 3-month time limit), the driller is free to begin drilling a NEW well, under the OLD lease terms. Section 1610 really stinks, in our humble opinion. It means a driller can drill a new shale well after an old conventional/vertical well quits producing–without having to sign a new lease or pay a new bonus or negotiate a new royalty rate. An editorial in the profoundly anti-drilling (and far-left) Scranton Times-Tribune encourages the House to nuke the Section 1610 provision. This is one of those rare (perhaps first time!) cases when MDN agrees with the lefty libs at the Times-Tribune

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