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Robbed blind?

November 24, 2011

Property owners in gas-drilling areas should know that, through the wonders of horizontal drilling, an innocent looking wellhead on an isolated half-acre is able to drill all points of the compass from where it sits and remove millions of cubic feet of gas from beneath square miles of unleased land.

Gas drillers do not pay for the gas they remove from under property adjacent to or even a mile away from their drilling pads.

We can all bet that when a drilling company pays hundreds of thousands of dollars for the right to extract gas from a leased lot, it is removing tens of millions of dollars’ worth of gas from five or six square miles of land all around it.

If your property is within a mile of a wellhead, you are being robbed blind.

Anthony Splendora
Milford, PA

[We wanted to check the accuracy of the facts represented in this letter, so we ran it past the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Below is the agency’s response. We will research the matter and provide more information in coming issues.]

“When operators apply to drill a well, they must indicate where the well bore will go. DEP can require directional surveys to verify companies and their contractors are operating within the scope of their permits.

“Your questions touch on the subjects of property rights, land leasing, rule of capture and subsurface trespasses, which are issues between private parties that fall outside the scope of DEP’s regulations. I would suggest contacting a law professor or attorney well versed in the matter for discussion.”

In PA your property rights

In PA your property rights extend to the center of the earth. If someone crosses that line with equipment above the surface or a mile below, it is willful trespass. PA does have right of capture where anything sucked up from within property borders is fair game but doesn't apply to fracturing. So says my lawyer.

I also just found out that the fear of not being able to obtain a mortgage may be an urban myth.


I am adamantly anti drilling but it makes me wonder where else I have been mislead.

A letter written by an upstate NY lawyer

is of little authority on the mortgage concern issue, the homeowners insurance concern issue, or the property values concern issue, as they relate to shale gas extraction and leasing.

Perhaps one should take a deep breath, and perform some further research?


People might be wise to find out what the lawyer who represents their mortgage company would write!