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Property rights for all?

November 24, 2011

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.

Roy Tedoff
Hortonville, NY

Majority?

A majority of acreage has nothing to do with "majority rule", except in relation to this artificially constructed paradigm.

If one person owns 385 acres, with one house, and has leased it for shale gas extraction, and if the unit is 640 acres, that is 60%. If the unit includes, in the remaining 255 acres, 20 properties that are 12.75 acres, each with a house, would compulsory integration come into effect?

If so, then majority rule would amount to less than 5% of the households. That's some majority. Anyone have an answer to this?

Why aren't people outraged at this law of forced integration? There is no "pooling" of shale gas. The shale needs to be multi staged frac'ed, and that is an outrageous agression against those that do not want any part of this process.