Forced Pooling is essentially bad-news corporate theft from tax-paying property owners, and despite the repeated corporate push from bought politicians, it has been defeated repeatedly.

But only by the skin of our teeth. The other side—the corporate side—has A LOT of money.

Last year, lobbyists and their political mouthpieces decided to try to rebrand Forced Pooling as “co-tenancy” and “lease integration” in an attempt to sneak it past West Virginia voters. Now they’re planning to try to pass Forced Pooling again… because of course they are. They think we’re stupid.

And more importantly, they think we’re powerless.

Time to give them a piece of your mind.

NO TO FORCED POOLING!

Take two minutes and let members of the House Energy Committee know you’ll fight for, vote for, and donate to their opponents if they support Forced Pooling.

Want to know MORE before you send your message? If you have time for some details, scroll past the form and read on…

If not, send your message NOW. It will go to ALL members of the committee, whether they support Forced Pooling or not.

 

Members of both parties are purchased

Allow me to head this off first: when it comes to Forced Pooling, some legislators of both parties are standing up for West Virginians. That’s because both party platforms support property rights. Regular Republicans and Democrats—you know, your neighbors and friends—are opposed to forced pooling, because we all want the right to hold out for a better price. No one wants the government telling us when we have to sell or lease.

That’s not the free market; that’s the government giving all the advantages to people who already have plenty.

So Forced Pooling isn’t an issue of party; it’s an issue of money in politics. A little corporate lobbying money NOW means corporations can steal millions from the lot of us way off into the future.

Pushing bad legislation like forced pooling is what bought reps get paid by corporations to do. Resource Barons want legislators to pass laws that will to help wealthy corporate execs and shareholders. But getting basic services like water and sewer to the people who live here?

Not so much.

We’re not a priority. It’s not that they actively hate us, it’s that they just don’t care.

For example, listen to how they want to spin this Forced Pooling theft:

Zatezalo serves as vice chairman of the House Energy Committee, and he expects there will be legislation this year dealing with the issue of co-tenancy and gas leasing rights [<<<That is what they’re calling Forced Pooling this year–LL] in situations where more than one property owner is involved in a drilling unit.

There will also be attempts to make laws permitting gas production to be more efficient and assure a steady stream of product to manufacturers, according to Zatezalo. He said if West Virginia fails to act, manufacturers could come to think of the state as a secondary producer of natural gas, and growth and development won’t prove as lucrative.

“We have a lot of very big possibilities,” Zatezalo said. “We will see an increase in drilling activities. We’re just getting started. What we’ve already seen here is not close to what is going to be happening in the future.”

Co-tenancy and gas leasing rights… forced pooling, in other words. That, Zatezalo supports.

But property rights? Nope.

It’s the corporate purchase of WV’s government

Zatezalo is repeating industry talking points. That’s what he gets paid to do by his corporate owners. The bought politicians meet with lobbyists, take their money, get their marching orders, and then recite the industry propaganda to the papers.

Check the link out just above, showing who’s footing the bill to get Zatezalo elected: Antero, AEP, First Energy, EQT, Marathon, Steptoe and Johnson (a lawfirm that represents energy companies like Antero against regular citizens), various corporate energy PACs… blah-de-blah blahbedy-blah-blah.

You can almost recite the list from memory, without looking. It’s the same old players in this state—the same ones trying to buy the seat in this district, too.

No lobbyists or shareholders or CEOs should have the right to force you to sell or lease your property because THEY want a guaranteed huge profit. How hard is that to understand? You have the right to hold out for a good price. That’s what the free market is. And it’s common sense. Since when do we want the government telling us we have to relinquish our own dadgum property?

If the government is regulating the market, shouldn’t it at least be to protect citizens?

Instead, they’re working for the oligarchs.

THEY’RE WORKING FOR THE OLIGARCHS.

The WV Legislature’s Priority Problem

According to Zatezalo…

There will also be attempts to make laws permitting gas production to be more efficient and assure a steady stream of product to manufacturers

His apparent priority: improving the efficiency of “laws permitting gas production.” He’s using the industry spin. But read between the lines: it means he wants citizens to have fewer rights to and protections for their own property.

Let that sink in.

These corporate politicians are not here to protect us—not if protecting us means they don’t get the campaign donations that keep them in office. They are not beholden to voters; they are beholden to the oligarchs.

I didn’t look exhaustively, but did YOU see even a single donation less than $100 in the list of Zatezalo’s donors? I didn’t.

As to the effect that efficiency he wants has on us, on our properties?

Maybe it’s not efficient for corporate execs to provide workers safe working conditions, or to take precautions against spills and leaks and contamination. Maybe it takes extra money to site that 5 acre frack pad out of your viewshed so that it doesn’t cause your property values to drop.  Maybe it would cost the company more to keep its frackwaste away from your town’s drinking water intake or your well.

Yeah, maybe it cuts into the bottom line to be a good neighbor rather than a corporate invader.

But Zatezalo is laser-focused on helping industry without making citizen protections a priority.

And I have to confide that when you live in a rural area where your property may well make you a corporate target, Zatezalo’s blase assertion that “We’re just getting started. What we’ve already seen here is not close to what is going to be happening in the future,” sounds like a threat.

He should be fighting to protect property owners first.He should be making sure regular people will benefit from our resources.

Regular working people are getting screwed

Zatezalo, WV’s vice chair of the House Energy Committee, is more concerned with assuring “a steady stream of product to manufacturers” and making sure manufacturers see WV as a “lucrative” place to be than he is in making sure these operations benefit regular West Virginians.

Yeah… where are WE in his calculations?

Nowhere, that’s where. He SHOULD be working for WV citizens.

Lest you think helping manufacturers means jobs, Zatezalo acknowledges that the jobs industry keeps promising may not happen. But hey, no skin off his nose!

One may say, “What if the jobs do not materialize?” To that question I will pose another. What have you lost if you strive to prepare yourself? The skills learned will be usable for other types of work or in other places. Preparing oneself for the future is not wasted effort.

Ummm… how can I best put this so these corporate pols can process it?

Just because YOU don’t lose anything doesn’t mean WE don’t lose anything.  If you trade off the property, the property rights, and the property values of regular West Virginians to corporations with Forced Pooling bills and other legislative assaults, yeah… maybe Zatezalo isn’t losing anything… but someone sure is.

It would be like me dipping into his bank account to buy myself a golden yacht in which to sail around the world—I shall name thee “Zatezalo’s Wooden Noggin,” imaginary yacht—and then telling the newspaper: “See? We don’t lose anything by preparing ourselves for future voyages.”

Selling West Virginians out: sadly, it’s no surprise

Coal has made a lot of money… for corporations and resource barons, but not for miners and mining communities.

Let’s be clear here: we need gas right now while we transition to renewables. But we also need to make sure the money that comes from our resources is not just carted out of the state, leaving us with the mess and the long term costs. We’ve already seen how well it works when our resources don’t benefit the people who actually live here.

Take a look at the mining areas in southern WV if you want to see the future of fracking areas.

Like regular gas and oil workers, miners are probably among the hardest-working people you know. Good folks. And they’ve repeatedly been screwed. Feel free to read the details, but if you don’t live under a rock, you probably already have more than a good idea.

Now we’re poised to bring that same sort of financial devastation—Extraction Debt—to North Central West Virginia with forced pooling and other property values assaults.

And look, I have to just say this: even if we defeat Forced Pooling yet again this year, they’ll try again next year. They’ll try every year… UNLESS we deliver a rebuke and vote out the corrupt politicians who keep pushing to legalize this industry theft.

Let’s deliver the lobbyists a rebuke

So find out who’s buying YOUR WV district… and—regardless of party–-vote for the other candidate. Or run yourself.

In Zatezalo’s district 1, Diane Magnone is running. She’s a regular person, just like me, who got fed up and decided to run for office. She wants to get the money out of politics, and doesn’t take SuperPAC or corporate PAC money.

I am strongly supportive of property rights,” she explained to me, adding that regular people in her district are all angry about Zatezalo’s actions. Members of Zatezalo’s own party, she says, “are volunteering to help me and offering me campaign funds to beat him.” 

That sounds familiar.

Here’s Diane Magnone’s website and here’s  her Facebook page. If you’re in her district, hook up.

Diane does not have an ActBlue page so she is not included, but here are other candidates who have pledged to stand up for property rights in WV. Contribute to Diane Magnone’s campaign at her website, linked above.

Fight Forced Pooling and other property rights assaults

 

Ritchie County showed last year that we’re paying attention to whom they’re stealing from… and I’d like to think that regular WV citizens all over the state will say no to forced pooling.

Let’s protect the property owners, the workers, and the communities of the Marcellus:

  • That means protecting property rights.
  • That means increasing worker protections.
  • It means giving mineral owners the right to hold out for the best price.
  • It means making sure surface owners are protected from property devaluation.

It does NOT mean assuring gas and oil companies can give gas and oil execs compensation of up to 141 million a year while lobbyists whine that, boo-hoo, it’s super hard to be profitable these days to we HAVE to steal from property owners!

Scroll to the top of this page to tell members of the House Energy Committee to say NO TO FORCED POOLING.