The New York Times reported this morning the a number of oil and gas exploration companies have promised environmental protections when drilling on private land. But, according the Times, "some of these landowners-often in rural areas, and eager for quick payouts-are finding out too late what is, and what is not, in the fine print."
In a review of more than 111,000 leases, addenda and related documents with landowners in Texas, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, the Times found that:
-fewer than half of the leases required companies to compensate landowners for water contamination after drilling began;
-most leases granted gas companies broad rights to cut down trees, store chemicals and build roads;
-most leases allowed extensions without additional approval from landowners.
According to the Times, landowners who allowed gas drilling on their properties in Pennsylvania, Colorado and West Virginia have had to spend hundreds of dollars a month for bottled water. "They said they learned only after the fact that the leases did not require gas companies to pay for replacement drinking water if their wells were contaminated, and despite some state regulations, not all costs were covered."
Idaho's Oil and Gas Conservation Commission recently gave its blessing to new rules that would govern gas exploration in the Gem State. The proposed rules are expected to be a high-profile consideration in the 2012 legislative session, beginning in January.