Taking Your Property for Extractable Gas

A news story published September 8, 2015 in the Martinsville Daily reports the progress of a bill working its way through the West Virginia Legislature. The new law will allow the use of eminent domain to capture the northern gas fields of West Virginia which are currently owned by private citizens. It will compel forced pooling. The fields have extractable gas 6,000 feet under the surface. If the bill becomes law, the government could eventually take the property. Currently, West Virginia State Law precludes gas companies from drilling wells if private owners within an area refuse to provide lease rights. Forced pooling, which can force government to use eminent domain, will change that.

New York State has forced pooling. Forced pooling compels holdout landowners to join gas leasing agreements with their neighbors. In New York, Department of Environmental Conservation regulations require a hearing when a well operator does not control all the oil and gas rights in the “spacing unit.” A “spacing unit” is usually made up of more than one property. New York regulations require that drillers must lease at least sixty percent of the acreage in the drilling unit before forced pooling or compulsory integration can occur.

New York has distinguished itself by banning hydraulic fracturing statewide. In addition, over 120 communities across New York State have voted to ban hydrofracking within town limits. These restrictions have been upheld in the courts. Thus, forced pooling for gas exploration in New York State is not a major threat in the near future as long as the ban on hydraulic fracturing continues.

Posted in Eminent Domain, Eminent Domain Abuse, Energy, Hydrofracking
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