When it comes to natural gas fracking companies - and the politicians who do their bidding - subtlety and respect for peoples' rights has not exactly been their calling card. For instance, earlier this year, we read about "Vera Scroggins, an outspoken opponent of fracking, [who] is legally barred from the new county hospital.," as well as "the Chinese restaurant where she takes her grandchildren, the supermarkets and drug stores where she shops, the animal shelter where she adopted her Yorkshire terrier, bowling alley, recycling center, golf club, and lakeshore." Crazy, right? Must be an aberration?
An energy company is dusting off an old, unused state law that can force property owners to accept oil and gas drilling under their land, pitting neighbor against neighbor.
Houston-based Hilcorp seeks to use a 1961 Pennsylvania law to drill under the property of four holdout landowners in New Bedford, near the Ohio border an hour north of Pittsburgh. The concept, known as “forced pooling,” means that people who do not sign leases get bundled in with those who do, to make drilling more efficient and compensate all the landowners.
This isn't the first time fracking companies have done this type of thing. For instance, last August we learned that "North Carolina landowners would be forced to sell the natural gas under their homes and farms – whether they want to or not – under a fracking recommendation approved Wednesday that’s expected to be enacted by the state legislature this fall." And in 2011, Pro Publica reported, "As the shale gas boom sweeps across the United States, drillers are turning to a controversial legal tool called forced pooling to gain access to minerals beneath private property--in many cases, without the landowners' permission." The bottom line is that this isn't a new practice by fracking companies and their political enablers. But it's still hard to believe this type of thing can go on in the United States of America.