By Bernhard Debatin
The fracking frenzy comes, as we have seen, in waves. First, there’s the leasing frenzy with landmen going from door to door, and lawyers and gas companies trying to make their leases palatable to the landowners. Second, the drilling operation with an invasion of workers and the installation of drilling pads and rigs, freshwater reservoirs, waste-water impoundments, and other construction. Third, the actual fracking and the ensuing gas or oil production, which can stretch over some years. Another wave, running parallel to the fracking activities and literally creating its own shockwave, is the disposal of the fracking fluids into injection wells, or — by way of the surface application loophole (see also ORC 1509.226) — as dust and ice control on public roads.
Whose Benefits and whose Costs?
While fracking obviously has some economic benefits for involved individuals, companies, and communities, critics have pointed out that the expected benefits are vastly overstated by the industry and the Ohio government. Continue reading
By Bernhard Debatin
Landowners in Athens County have recently been approached aggressively to sign leases for their mineral rights so that gas and oil can be extracted from under their land. The technology used for this, known as horizontal hydro-fracking, is highly controversial due to its potential adverse effects on the environment, specifically on the air and our water resources, and due to the lack of proper regulation and oversight.
At the meeting for landowners on Nov. 29, held by local attorney John Lavelle and Cunningham Energy at the Athens County fairgrounds, Lavelle presented a draft of a supposedly “landowner friendly” mineral rights lease. With their talk about a “window of opportunity” and the claim that “no better lease” would be available to landowners, it appears that Cunninghan Energy and Lavelle are creating artificial pressure to talk people into leasing their mineral rights. On Tuesday, Dec. 6, Lavelle and Cunningham will hold another such meeting. Continue reading
By Heather Cantino
(Board Chair, Buckeye Forest Council, and 30-year Athens County resident)
As the fracking boom is coming to Athens county, many landowners are wondering if it is advisable to lease their mineral rights to Cunningham Energy from Charleston, W.Va., for hydraulic fracturing. On Tuesday evening (Nov. 29), local attorney John Lavelle, who has already signed a lease with Cunningham Energy for his property in Waterloo and Lee Township, organized a meeting for landowners at the Athens County fairgrounds, where he presented a draft of a supposedly “landowner friendly” lease that landowners can use for a legal fee of $50 per acre if they wish to sell their mineral rights and use of land to Cunningham Energy.
However, many Athens County residents are expressing concerns with the lease presented by Lavelle. The lease fails to address a number of crucial issues and holes in Ohio oil and gas regulations (see Ohio regulation and rule deficiencies). It also covers only a small amount of the conditions and clauses spelled out in the sample draft lease put forward by the Harvard Law School, known as An Ohio Landowner’s Guide to Hydraulic Fracturing. The Havard lease draft is considered a minimum standard for leasing mineral rights.