State Senator Lisa Baker will vigorously oppose efforts by the natural gas industry to gain the power referred to as “forced pooling.” Industry representatives have identified pooling as a primary objective they are seeking to achieve during the debate over a severance tax.
Her reasons for opposition are as follows:
Across the Marcellus Shale portions of Pennsylvania, there is a lot of acreage potentially available for deep well drilling. Certain sites may be more attractive to drillers, but no single site is essential. People should not be forced by state law to accept drilling beneath their property if they do not want it. Such a requirement is not right, is not necessary, and is not acceptable.
There are a variety of good reasons why an individual or a family would choose not to sign a lease, and we should respect those decisions. The economic interests of gas drilling do not override the fundamental rights of property owners. There is no public purpose here that could justify taking people’s property rights.
Under a system of forced pooling, only the gas companies win. There is a misconception that this change in law would adversely affect just the property owners who do not want to lease their lands. By giving the companies the ability to compel some instead of having to negotiate with all, forced pooling would diminish the value of leases for every property holder.
Pennsylvania should decide the question of imposing a severance tax on its merits, without trading away people’s rights.
Contact: Jennifer Wilson