Gas royalty fairness legislation guarantees landowner benefits

We applaud legislation being co-sponsored by two local state representatives in the name of residents who are leasing property for gas drilling.

State Reps. Garth Everett, a Muncy Republican, and Matthew E. Baker, a Wellsboro Republican are behind a response to concerns by many landowners that their royalty payments have decreased due to post-production costs.

Some landowners who signed leases indicating they would receive one-eighth of the value of gas from their properties didn’t realize they would suddenly not receive their fair share.

Everett said a couple companies not operating in Lycoming County have been tough and unfair to landowners.

The law, which predates the discovery of Marcellus Shale, is pretty self-explanatory. Passed in 1979, it guarantees a minimum royalty payment of one-eighth for oil, natural gas or gas of any other designation.

Everett said he has received many complaints from constituents that the one-eighth rule is not being followed. Baker said the problem is particularly acute for his Northern Tier constituents.

While many property owners have benefitted from leasing land to gas companies, it’s still their property that is being altered to make way for the drilling. They don’t deserve a hassle over royalty payments.

The gas industry appears to be made up largely of efficient, successful, forthright managers. It’s not fair to the rest of the industry for a few unprincipled types to falsely put a black mark on a business model that will be here for generations to come.