Marcellus Shale case appealed to Pa. Supreme Court could create ‘chaos’ by questioning ownership of gas rights

By DONALD GILLILAND, The Patriot-News

A court case that many believe has the potential to upend 100 years of case law and God knows how many Marcellus gas leases in Pennsylvania hinges on what the everyday definition of “minerals” was in 1836.

Attorneys at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney who appealed the case to the Supreme Court on Friday say they simply want the high court to reaffirm what’s been “bedrock” property law for more 100 years.

The case involves John and Mary Butler, owners of 244 acres in Susquehanna County, and the heirs of Charles Powers, who in 1881 was granted “one-half the minerals and Petroleum Oils” under the property.

Powers’s heirs argue that they are entitled to half the Marcellus gas under the property as well.

Susquehanna County President Judge Kenneth Seamans ruled against that claim in January 2010, citing what’s known as the “Dunham Rule” – a Supreme Court ruling that has stood since 1882 that a conveyance of “minerals” in a deed does not include oil and gas unless specifically stated. The Powers deed makes no mention of gas.

Powers’s heirs appealed that decision to the Superior Court, arguing that the Dunham Rule should not apply, but rather a 1983 ruling that found U.S. Steel owned the natural gas contained in the coal it owned – not the property owner who had retained the right to drill through the coal for oil and gas.

As the attorney for the heirs put it to the Superior Court: “Whoever owns the shale, owns the gas.”

To read the rest of this article click on the below link.

http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2011/10/marcellus_shale_bellwether_leg.html

 

 

Lisa Addresses Lincoln Place homeowners about Marcellus Shale

The below links are from the Lincoln Place Action Group in the Pittsburgh area. I met some of the folks who put this event together while traveling in Washington County. Lisa Graves (the speaker) is a resident of the Pittsburgh area where they are currently signing leases for drilling and she is a member of the Environmental Quality Control Board.

Part 1-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQQy5ZU2qKY

Part 2- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hq9QAiyrAJM

Pipeline Matters

The League of Women Voters of Susquehanna County will host two upcoming events as part of its educational series on Marcellus Shale.

Quantcast

A Friday event entitled Pipeline Matters will address right-of-way agreements, lease negotiation questions, landowner options and pipeline impact, according to a news release from the group. A May 7 program, Environmental Impact, will focus on issues relating to Marcellus Shale production and effects on surface water and groundwater. Experts will speak during each program.

Both events will take place from 7 to 9:30 p.m. in the Montrose Area High School auditorium.

House Bill 2235

palta logo

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives will consider Rep. Vitali’s House Bill 2235 this week. The bill would place a 5-year moratorium on new leases of State Forest to natural gas drillers.  The five years would give DCNR time to study the impacts current drilling leases will have on the environmental, economic and recreational values of our State Forests.  After the moratorium ends, the bill would allow DCNR to lease further lands only if DCNR determines that such leases can be done without threatening water and air quality, habitat, ecosystems, recreational, social and asthetic values of the forests.

Call your PA Representative and ask them to
1. support the moratorium bill, and
2. vote against weakening amendments.

Find your representative’s contact information.  Just use box labeled “Find Members By” in the upper-right hand corner…

Background:

One third of our state forests are already open to natural gas drilling.  Without careful scientific study and planning, we can’t know what additional drilling, if any, can occur without harming our publicly owned forest’s environmental, economic and recreational values.  Our state forests are one of our greatest public assets, protecting our highest quality streams, providing public recreation, supporting tourism, and providing a sustainable timber supply.  As such, we should exercise balance and restraint when considering making additional lands available for drilling.

Several amendments have been filed which seek to weaken the moratorium proposal, mainly by shortening the moratorium to 1 year.  The moratorium needs to be 5 years to yield enough data to meaningfully understand the cumulative effects of drilling in our State Forests.  To date, there are only 9 Marcellus wells in production in State Forests; however, 2000 more are expected to be drilled in the next 5 years.

No private lands will be affected by the moratorium nor will any State Forest land already leased.

The moratorium would take effect after the additional leasing of state forests already planned by Governor Rendell for the 2010-2011 budget (which is expected to yield $112 million).

For more information, please call 717-230-8560.

Leasing of PA state land for natural gas drilling

Here is a link to the transcript about the PA House Majority Policy Committee’s public hearing regarding the leasing of state and for gas drilling.

http://www.pahouse.com/policycommittee/documents/31810hmpc.pdf

Stand up for what you believe in – You know what’s at stake!

Pittsburgh – Philadelphia – Ohiopyle – Harrisburg

It’s time to show up and be counted

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR OUR STATE FORESTS

Stand up for what you believe in – You know what’s at stake!

Be a Hero for our Forests
Attend an event to show your support for protecting our precious state forests from further natural gas drilling and for an impact fee to ensure drillers pay their fair share

Currently the state legislature is moving forward with a budget plan that relies on new natural gas drilling leases on state forest land to cover the budget shortfall – threatening our public natural resources and compromising public access to our forest land.

We need forest heroes- our legislators and Governor Rendell must pledge not to support a budget that relies in drilling in forests. Instead, they need to enact a gas extraction impact fee to pay for the damage to natural resources and communities that drilling causes. Our legislators need to support the impact fee and the Save our Forests legislation (HB 2235), which puts a five year freeze on new deep natural gas drilling leases in state forests.

Come to one of these events to stand up for our forests:

April 14, 12:15 – 12:45 p.m. – Philadelphia
Demonstration to Save Pennsylvania’s Forests
Gov. Rendell’s Southeast Office
200 South Broad Street (near Broad and Walnut).
Join us during your lunch hour as we conduct a fun demonstration with a local arts group to show support our remarkable state forests.

April 15, 12:00 – 2:00 p.m. – Ricketts Glen
Picnic in Ricketts Glen State Park to Save Pennsylvania’s Forests
Rickets Glen State Park Picnic Pavilion #2
695 State Route 487, Benton, PA 17814
Gather your friends and family and join us for a relaxing lunch in the park to show your support for protecting our state forests and to simply enjoy the beauty of Ricketts Glen State Park.

April 17, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.- Philadelphia
Annual PennFuture Watershed Workshop: Bold Action to Protect Water Quality in Philadelphia and Beyond
Friends Center, 1501 Cherry St, Philadelphia, PA 19102
This workshop will discuss changes Philadelphia is making to ensure the health of our waterways and take a look at Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling, and why it is relevant to local water quality.

April 20, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.- Pittsburgh
Rally for the Trees to Save Pennsylania’s Forests
Portico steps of the City-County Building, 414 Grant St, Pittsburgh, PA  15219.
Grab your friends and spend your lunch hour showing your support for Pennsylania’s state forests.

April 20, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. – Ohiopyle
Celebrate Our Forests – and learn more about gas drilling
Ohiopyle Stewart Community Center
15 Sherman Street, Ohiopyle, PA 15470
Learn more about natural gas drilling – what it is and what the impacts will be – and share your stories about what our state forests mean to you.  We’ll deliver your stories to elected officials on Earth Day in Harrisburg.

April 22, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. – Harrisburg
Earth Day Rally to Protect Penn’s Woods
Pennsylvania State Capitol Main Rotunda
Gather your friends, postcards, and signs and join us in a rally encouraging our legislators to protect Penn’s Woods.

Coordinator www.PaForestCoalition.org

Gas Pains….in Frackland

Here’s a new blog by a reporter from Voices in Center County, PA.

Her first post is the article that just came out in the April issue. This article is full of stories from a variety of places in PA and really brings some tough questions to the forfront of what other papers are only skirting around.

http://frackland.wordpress.com/2010/04/01/marcellus-drilling-transforms-the-state/