Please note that David McMahon is also concerned about old gas wells!

From David McMahon: WV looking to rip off surface rights owners (Opinion), February 24, 2024

The West Virginia Surface Owners Rights Organization, of which I am a cofounder, stands up for surface owners when the oil and gas drillers show up with bulldozers.

The common law says that if I own the surface, but someone else owns the minerals and leases them to a driller, I get no share of the value of the oil and gas that my surface land is used to produce. Only in the 1980s did surface owners finally even get limited compensation for the damage done to their land — the amount of the existing use such as growing hay was worth to the surface owners, not what use of their land is worth to the driller and mineral owner.

The Legislature has never regulated the deeds severing ownership of the minerals (usually to out-of-state owners) from the ownership of the surface in a way that might have given the surface owners more say over where well pads, pipelines etc. can be built — let alone what share the surface owner might get from the profits of drilling and producing using their land.
The Legislature has also never enacted regulations to protect mineral owners when signing leases to drillers (usually to out-of-state companies).

Almost every lease that I have seen drafted by the driller for the mineral owner to sign contains a “general warranty” clause. That means if the driller’s title work was wrong, the mineral owner has to pay for the driller’s lawyers when the driller gets sued by someone else who thinks the minerals were theirs and did not belong to the person the driller got to sign the lease.

So, if the driller is sued for the money the driller wrongfully paid to the person who the driller asked to signed the lease, then the person who signed the lease has to pay the driller’s attorney fees. I am not making this up. And many of the leases had provisions allowing free use of the surface for pipelines for wells that were not on the leased tract. And many of the leases had provisions that let the lease be held for decades by use for gas storage fields by paying the mineral owners only $1 an acre a year — again not a share of the money the driller made by using the storage field.

The Legislature never stepped in to regulate leasing, it only enacted forced pooling when mineral owners would not sign the drillers’ leases.

Now, finally, surface owners who got no share of the value of their land being used for oil and gas production have the opportunity to get paid for entering into carbon credit agreements that require scientific management of timber cutting. And now the Legislature is considering enacting regulation of transactions with landowners (Senate Bills 618 and 822).

Now, when the surface owner can get paid some money by persons or entities (usually out of state) who want to offset their carbon generation by paying us to manage our timberland in a carbon friendly way, now when we can finally get paid some money for scientifically managing our timber — now the Legislature is considering two bills that will at least inhibit and more likely eliminate West Virginia surface owners from getting this money.

Not everyone agrees that the buying and selling of carbon credits is a good idea.

But the Legislature cannot stop other states from authorizing it or stop private entities from purchasing the credits to enhance their image. All the Legislature can do is pass bills chasing the money out of West Virginia to surrounding states that do not interfere. The Legislature should prove its bona fides as advocating for a free market and less government and private property rights. Prove that West Virginia is not just a big company town. Don’t pass these bills.

David McMahon is a lawyer in Charleston. He is dedicated to the public interest.

NOTE ~ Please join the WV Surface Owners Rights Organization ASAP, that we definitely help!

See the Web Site ~ WVSORO.org. Julie Archer is the Executive Director, and needs your help!

URL: https://www.wvgazettemail.com/opinion/op_ed_commentaries/david-mcmahon-wv-looking-to-rip-off-surface-rights-owners-opinion/article_fdaeff14-8b0a-5b6b-8c77-41006ad17757.html

{ 0 comments }

OHIO Law Makers HAVE OPENED THAT STATE TO MORE FRACKING

by Duane Nichols on February 18, 2024

Our concern is the all lands, for example lot 7 here!

Landowner Rights Beging Ignored in OHIO. STATE PARKS AT RISK!

From Randi Pokladnik, Tappan Lake, OHIO, 44683, February 14, 2024

Have you ever noticed that every oil and gas drilling rig has an American flag anchored to the top? For most Americans, that flag represents a symbol of freedom. So, it’s ironic that Ohio’s pro fossil fuel Republicans cater to the oil and gas industry and usurp many of its rights and freedoms from Ohio’s citizens.

Have you ever noticed that every oil and gas drilling rig has an American flag anchored to the top? For most Americans, that flag represents a symbol of freedom. So, it’s ironic that Ohio’s pro fossil fuel Republicans cater to the oil and gas industry and usurp many of its rights and freedoms from Ohio’s citizens.

This industry, however, enjoys several freedoms and rights that many other industries do not. Because of the Haliburton laws, the oil and gas industry is exempt from most federal regulations, including the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and the Toxic Release Inventory under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.

In 1980, the Federal EPA acknowledged that the billions and billions of barrels of produced water from fracking wells is hazardous, but it would be an economic burden for this industry to try to adhere to the laws. Therefore, “The Federal EPA exempted wastes from the federal laws written to protect the public from toxic waste.” In Ohio, these wastes are trucked up and down the roads of our rural communities to be injected into Class II injection wells.

Ohio’s Republican lawmakers have opened the state to fracking; allowing the industry to exploit every drop of oil and every molecule of gas that lies beneath southeast Ohio counties.

Countless laws have been passed to pave the way for fracking while thwarting renewable energy development (HB 52 HB6 and HB483). Additionally, pro fossil fuel laws have attacked our freedoms, limiting free speech and public protests. Ohio citizens, trying to protect their homes and rural communities from the horrendous externalities visited on them, have been essentially gaged by laws like SB 33, passed in 2021.

A prime example of the power that fossil fuels weld over Ohio’s citizens was obvious in 2023, when HB 507 opened up the state’s parks to fracking. The bill was passed during the 2022 General Assembly “lame duck” session, and was quickly signed into law by Governor Mike DeWine. The bill set in motion the ability of out-of-state oil and gas companies to propose leases under state parks.

A “puppet-like” public participation process was carried on throughout the year with public meetings in Columbus. Citizens were prohibited from asking questions or commenting. The public meeting on November 15, 2023 was a sad day for Ohio’s public lands. Democracy was fracked, and leasing was approved for several tracts of land, including all 20,000 acres of Salt Fork State Park.

The five-member Oil and Gas Land Management Commission ignored the nine criteria contained in the statue. They also ignored the vocal disagreement of over 100 informed, angry Ohio citizens and the peer-reviewed health and environmental studies in the over 5000 written comments submitted to them by Ohio citizens.

After that decision, many citizens were devastated and realized that ordinary freedoms we took for granted have been eroded away by an industry that controls the state legislature in Ohio. Southeast Ohio is just a mineral colony open for business, regardless of how that “business” ruins our communities.

Sadly, my family has learned that our precious forested property has been targeted by the industry for a forced pooling or mandatory unitization action. “Ohio Revised Code § 1509.27 provides a mechanism to force Ohio landowners to participate in oil and gas development without their consent.” Once again, this process favors industry profits over private property rights.

Forced pooling is defined as when a “person who has obtained the consent of the owners of at least sixty-five per cent of the land area overlying a pool or a part of a pool submits an application for the operation as a unit of the entire pool or part of the pool to the chief of the division of oil and gas resources management”. If approved, the application will force the remaining thirty-five percent of landowners to become part of the unit.

The best way to describe this is by using a puzzle. Pieces of the puzzle represent various parcels of lands owned by different people. A drilling unit is a long, horizontal tract of land (rectangle drawn on that puzzle). If sixty-five percent of the puzzle pieces in that tract are agreeable to lease their land, then the other thirty-five percent who do not want to lease their land are forced into the process.

There are only three criteria to satisfy in order for the Chief of the Division of Oil and Gas at ODNR to approve a mandatory pooling application (see OHIO REV. CODE ANN. § 1509.27). They are: protecting correlative rights (those who have leased); providing for effective development and use; and promoting conservation of oil and gas. Any concerns over environmental harms or health effects are not considered.

Since 2014, we have been repeatedly contacted by oil and gas landmen trying to get us to sign a lease. We have refused for many reasons including health, environmental damage, and climate change. Now we are being forced to do something that goes against everything we believe.

We are learning about this process as we dig deeper into legal documentation. If we do not sign a lease agreement for our land, we are considered a non-consenting owner. There have been many amendments to the original laws written in 1965. In 2010, amendments were added to prevent liability from attaching to nonparticipant owners. “However, these amendments do not address one of the most critical aspects of the laws, the risk-penalty provision. Landowners subject to the order only have the choice between the following: (1) relent and become a participant in the drilling unit or (2) become a nonparticipating owner and pay a penalty of up to 200% of the reasonable costs and expenses of production.” This penalty is a way to encourage non-consenting owners to ultimately lease, and helps the well operators from undergoing additional application fees and paperwork.

In a conversation I had with another landowner who was also “force-pooled”, we discovered that by refusing to sign a lease, we may relinquish the ability to write legal protections for our land. If we sign a lease, we can at least list the various stipulations that limit the drilling company from surface access to our land. This would prohibit pipeline construction, the use of hydrocarbon storage tanks on our land, and the drilling of injection wells to inject waste fluids.
Basically, if we want to protect our property, we have no real options; we are forced to sign a lease. It is a horrible position. We built our eco-log home from salvaged forest-fire-killed trees; we have an 8.4kW solar system on our garage; and we have a new geothermal heating system. We have tried to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible and now our land will be fracked.

In 2018, I was honored by being selected as the “Fractivist of the Year” by the West Virginia Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. In 2020, that same group gave me another award, the “Passion for Justice award”. Those plaques hang on my wall as a constant reminder of why I keep fighting fossil fuel expansion. Unfortunately, the fight to save our property will not be won. The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District leased 7300 acres around Tappan Lake to Encino Energy in June of 2022, which led to the mandatory pooling of our land. We recently received the notification that our land is no longer truly ours, but instead is now part of Encino’s Akers HN FRA East Unit.

Make no mistake, I am enraged by the fact that we, as property-owning citizens, have no rights to stop this heinous process. Encino’s monster horizontal laterals will snake under our land and steal our resources. But they cannot steal my resolve to continue speaking out against the harms of fossil fuels and the lack of democracy in Ohio’s government, which is not “of the people, by the people, or for the people.”

This industry, however, enjoys several freedoms and rights that many other industries do not.

Because of the Haliburton laws, the oil and gas industry is exempt from most federal regulations, including the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and the Toxic Release Inventory under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.

In 1980, the Federal EPA acknowledged that the billions and billions of barrels of produced water from fracking wells is hazardous, but it would be an economic burden for this industry to try to adhere to the laws. Therefore, “The Federal EPA exempted wastes from the federal laws written to protect the public from toxic waste.” In Ohio, these wastes are trucked up and down the roads of our rural communities to be injected into Class II injection wells.

Ohio’s Republican lawmakers have opened the state to fracking; allowing the industry to exploit every drop of oil and every molecule of gas that lies beneath southeast Ohio counties.

Countless laws have been passed to pave the way for fracking while thwarting renewable energy development (HB 52 HB6 and HB483). Additionally, pro fossil fuel laws have attacked our freedoms, limiting free speech and public protests. Ohio citizens, trying to protect their homes and rural communities from the horrendous externalities visited on them, have been essentially gaged by laws like SB 33, passed in 2021.

A prime example of the power that fossil fuels weld over Ohio’s citizens was obvious in 2023, when HB 507 opened up the state’s parks to fracking. The bill was passed during the 2022 General Assembly “lame duck” session, and was quickly signed into law by Governor Mike DeWine. The bill set in motion the ability of out-of-state oil and gas companies to propose leases under state parks.

A “puppet-like” public participation process was carried on throughout the year with public meetings in Columbus. Citizens were prohibited from asking questions or commenting. The public meeting on November 15, 2023 was a sad day for Ohio’s public lands. Democracy was fracked, and leasing was approved for several tracts of land, including all 20,000 acres of Salt Fork State Park.

The five-member Oil and Gas Land Management Commission ignored the nine criteria contained in the statue. They also ignored the vocal disagreement of over 100 informed, angry Ohio citizens and the peer-reviewed health and environmental studies in the over 5000 written comments submitted to them by Ohio citizens.

After that decision, many citizens were devastated and realized that ordinary freedoms we took for granted have been eroded away by an industry that controls the state legislature in Ohio. Southeast Ohio is just a mineral colony open for business, regardless of how that “business” ruins our communities.

Sadly, my family has learned that our precious forested property has been targeted by the industry for a forced pooling or mandatory unitization action. “Ohio Revised Code § 1509.27 provides a mechanism to force Ohio landowners to participate in oil and gas development without their consent.” Once again, this process favors industry profits over private property rights.

Forced pooling is defined as when a “person who has obtained the consent of the owners of at least sixty-five per cent of the land area overlying a pool or a part of a pool submits an application for the operation as a unit of the entire pool or part of the pool to the chief of the division of oil and gas resources management”. If approved, the application will force the remaining thirty-five percent of landowners to become part of the unit.

The best way to describe this is by using a puzzle. Pieces of the puzzle represent various parcels of lands owned by different people. A drilling unit is a long, horizontal tract of land (rectangle drawn on that puzzle). If sixty-five percent of the puzzle pieces in that tract are agreeable to lease their land, then the other thirty-five percent who do not want to lease their land are forced into the process.

There are only three criteria to satisfy in order for the Chief of the Division of Oil and Gas at ODNR to approve a mandatory pooling application (see OHIO REV. CODE ANN. § 1509.27). They are: protecting correlative rights (those who have leased); providing for effective development and use; and promoting conservation of oil and gas. Any concerns over environmental harms or health effects are not considered.

Since 2014, we have been repeatedly contacted by oil and gas landmen trying to get us to sign a lease. We have refused for many reasons including health, environmental damage, and climate change. Now we are being forced to do something that goes against everything we believe.

We are learning about this process as we dig deeper into legal documentation. If we do not sign a lease agreement for our land, we are considered a non-consenting owner. There have been many amendments to the original laws written in 1965. In 2010, amendments were added to prevent liability from attaching to nonparticipant owners. “However, these amendments do not address one of the most critical aspects of the laws, the risk-penalty provision. Landowners subject to the order only have the choice between the following: (1) relent and become a participant in the drilling unit or (2) become a nonparticipating owner and pay a penalty of up to 200% of the reasonable costs and expenses of production.” This penalty is a way to encourage non-consenting owners to ultimately lease, and helps the well operators from undergoing additional application fees and paperwork.

In a conversation I had with another landowner who was also “force-pooled”, we discovered that by refusing to sign a lease, we may relinquish the ability to write legal protections for our land. If we sign a lease, we can at least list the various stipulations that limit the drilling company from surface access to our land. This would prohibit pipeline construction, the use of hydrocarbon storage tanks on our land, and the drilling of injection wells to inject waste fluids.
Basically, if we want to protect our property, we have no real options; we are forced to sign a lease. It is a horrible position. We built our eco-log home from salvaged forest-fire-killed trees; we have an 8.4kW solar system on our garage; and we have a new geothermal heating system. We have tried to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible and now our land will be fracked.

{ 0 comments }

Wildlife Populations are an Important Part of Life on EARTH

February 13, 2024

Remote cameras capture insights into NY’s wildlife populations | Cornell Chronicle By Blaine Friedlander, Cornell Chronicle, February 13, 2024 Bobcats, like this one photographed in Otego, New York on Jan. 30, 2024, remain critically low in population, according to Cornell biologists. With thousands of strategically placed cameras covering more than 27,000 square miles in central [...]

Read the full article →

JOIN CLIMATE Guardians in a Political Action Committee (PAC)

February 11, 2024

NOW Join the Grace and Frankie Galentine’s Day Virtual Cast Reunion! Join us on February 13 at 6PM PT for our Grace and Frankie Virtual Cast Reunion (Galentine’s Edition!) featuring a live table read from some of your favorite Grace and Frankie cast members: Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, Sam Waterston, and more! Get [...]

Read the full article →

LEARNING ABOUT OUT EARTH In 2023!

February 2, 2024

10 dramatic discoveries about Earth from 2023 Hottest summer on record. Devastating Maui wildfire. Return of El Niño. Possible shutdown of key ocean current system. Record-low sea ice extent in Antarctica. Smoke from Canadian wildfires. Changes to the tilt of Earth’s axis. A brand-new island. Source ~ https://www.space.com/planet-earth-from-space-in-2023

Read the full article →

TIME FOR ACTION ~ Joe Biden needs to stand up to Big Oil and Gas!

January 25, 2024

Breaking News: Is Biden standing up to Big Oil and gas? From the Appeal of Catharine Collentine, The Sierra Club, January 24, 2024 Yesterday, the New York Times reported that the Biden administration is poised to announce a pause on what would be the largest gas export terminal in the nation, CP2, to evaluate its [...]

Read the full article →

OMG! With 90 Seconds to Midnight, We Have Multiple Crises on Hand

January 23, 2024

The DOOMSDAY CLOCK is maintained by The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists From an Article by Jessica Corbett for Common Dreams on January 23, 2024 “Ominous trends continue to point the world toward global catastrophe,” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists warned Tuesday, explaining why the Doomsday Clock remains at 90 seconds to midnight. Since its [...]

Read the full article →

TRANSCRIPT ~ Fossil Fuel Deception ~ Part 1 …

January 20, 2024

Transcript from Living on Earth of January 12, 2024. DOERING: It’s Living on Earth, I’m Jenni Doering BELTRAN: And I’m Paloma Beltran. The burning of fossil fuels is the primary source of climate-warming greenhouse gases worldwide. And the science tells us that if we don’t drastically reduce those emissions as soon as possible, we’re headed [...]

Read the full article →

ABUSE OF LAND IN APPALACHIA ~ “Top Story of 2023”

December 31, 2023

Brutal Abuse of Eminent Domain to Complete the Mountain Valley Pipeline From the Article by Michael M. Barrick, The Appalachian Chronicle, December 31, 2023 BIG ISSAC, W.Va. – Our top story from 2023 is the brutal abuse of eminent domain to complete the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP). This power grab of private property along a [...]

Read the full article →

§ ~ The Union of Concerned Scientists is Recommented Very Highly!

December 30, 2023

Put Science to work in 2024. Donate Now The Staff of the Union of Concerned Scientists Work Overtime! Year-End 1:1 Match for Science. … Deadline: 11:59 p.m., Sunday 12/31. UCS members power the science-based advocacy needed to protect our planet from corporate polluters and the deadly consequences of climate change. In the coming year, our [...]

Read the full article →