The 2017 legislative proposals being pushed by West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association will hurt land owners, mineral owners, and eliminate jobs. Naturally, they’re telling us that it will bring benefits! This is the doublespeak world we live in. They’re simply trying to rebrand Forced Pooling.
So let’s look at their proposals, and the implications of those proposals on our rights.
The first proposal they want to push is Forced Leasing, and works on the principle of the Tyranny of the Majority…
Right now, Resource Barons need to have leased your mineral rights in order to drill your property. But under the proposal WVNGA wants to push, if you own fractional rights—for example, if you own some of the mineral rights under your ancestral family farm, along with distant cousins—Resource Barons can force drilling. All they need to do is lease from 51% of the owners, and the rest of the co-tenants have no choice but to have their land and rights stolen.
And if those who agreed to the lease have signed a terrible one? Well, too bad for you! You can’t decline. And you can’t hold out for a better deal (like you should be able to in a free market). Forced Leasing is the elimination of the free market—for regular people. But the corporations will benefit, that’s for sure!
Keep in mind that Forced Leasing will also reduce the need for the land men who negotiate leases. This is because Resource Barons will only need to negotiate half the leases they do now.
So, goodbye jobs!
Yeah, they want to call this proposal something different this year–they want to call it “Joint Development” because “Forced Pooling” is too toxic a term. But it’s SO forced pooling that Anne Blankenship of WVONGA was forced to issue a denial.
Sorry, Blankenship. This is typical corporate doublespeak, and you should be ashamed of yourself for participating.
“It kind of looks like they’re putting lipstick on the same pig,” explained WV Farm Bureau Chief Steve Butler.
So let’s call it what it is. It is FORCED POOLING. It’s just that they’ve split out the portion of the bill that would have required 80% ownership. And they’ve made that worse for us. As I explained above, it’s now just 51%.
Scott Windom, an attorney in Harrisville who represents owners and small producers, said the association is taking the previous forced pooling legislation that was unsuccessful in the Legislature and splitting it into separate bills. The legislation does not protect property owners, he said.
“We need to protect property rights,” Windom said.
Here’s how this will steal from us
You may be a person who doesn’t want to lease. Or perhaps DO want to… but you want a good deal. You may be savvy and knowledgeable about the industry, and you know that what they’re offering you is just some small fraction of what the rights would be worth.
Well, too bad, so sad! If they can sign other rights owners who don’t have as much foresight as you (or if they can just claim to sign them) then this horrible deal is yours!
This legislation would remove your right to hold out for a fair deal. Resource Barons are going to try to sign people who can’t afford to have an attorney look the agreement over. All they need is 51%! So, even those with good legal advice could be forcibly saddled with potentially terrible leases.
Once you are leased, they’ll make your property a part of a unit and drill.
So this would allow Resource Barons to acquire your rights by convincing 51% of rights owners to sign bad deals. Then they’ll try to get more properties near you where they own 51% of the rights. Now you’re a unit!…
That means that even if you never signed your rights over, your farm may be the one that the fracked-up Jackboot of Damocles crushes underfoot.
WV’s forced pooling bills of 2017 propose a real-life game of Othello. Only regular folks don’t get any pieces. Their rights just get slowly snuffed out.
You’ll have zero power to control what they do to your property, or what they pay you for the damage you’re locked into for the rest of your lives, the rest of your children’s lives… and the lives of your grandbabies. The land is gone the rights are gone, the fair compensation is gone, and the jobs are gone.
But, hey! Resource Barons really get to make out!