Property rights for all?
Harold Roeder, Delaware Town Board councilman, said in a pre-election statement (October 25 issue of the Sullivan County Democrat), “The biggest issue facing our town is gas drilling… [some] wish to take over this town by zoning against heavy industrial use, which will strip the people of their property rights.” At the April 20 town board meeting, he said it this way: “The overwhelming thing is the individual’s right to their property; it doesn’t matter pro or con.”
So I ask this champion of property rights his thoughts about compulsory integration. Compulsory integration is a provision in NYS Environmental Conservation Law (ECL Article 23); it says that if a gas company claims (no evidence required) that 60% of a designated 640 acres is leased, the other 40% will have the gas taken from under their property (their owners’ freedom of choice rendered null and void).
It’s true that if you are “integrated” you have three options: you can choose to be paid—at the lowest percentage the law decrees, you can go into partnership with the driller by sharing upfront costs, or you can choose to be paid at the high rate of lessors, but only after the driller recovers three times his costs. Those are the only choices; you can’t choose not to be “integrated.” And you cannot negotiate with the gas company; the government sets the terms and prices. Free market?
So, why hasn’t Mr. Roeder spoken out against compulsory integration? If you aren’t signing a lease don’t you have property rights too? Or does making it easier for the gas companies trump your rights?
Someone else suggested that compulsory integration is “majority rule.” But, the only vote was on the bill the gas lobbyists pumped out of the state legislature.