EQT Uses New Pooling Law To Sue Landowners
The Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports EQT Corp. has filed a lawsuit against Allegheny County landowners, citing a new law that gives drilling companies the power to combine land parcels into drilling units.
From the Tribune Review:
The 69 individuals and one golf course in Forward named in the lawsuit are accused of blocking the company from conducting surveys on their land to determine where to drill for shale gas. It appears to be the gas industry’s first attempt at using the controversial law …
EQT spokeswoman Linda Robertson said the company had been negotiating in “good faith” in Forward and still does, though it doesn’t have to.
“Prior to the bill, we were working with landowners to obtain modifications and, although this bill means we no longer need to do that, EQT will honor those offers,” Robertson said. “It was determined that putting the issues before a court would be the most expeditious way to reach resolution.”
The new pooling law was signed into law earlier this month. Landowners have criticized the measure, saying it undermines their negotiating power.
The law gives drillers the ability to combine contiguous leases for horizontal drilling, unless the contract explicitly prohibits it.
Robert Burnett is a Pittsburgh-based attorney who represents landowners. He’s not involved in this lawsuit, but has been a vocal opponent of the new pooling law.
“It is going to be used as a mechanism by which drillers will try to beat down non-consenting landowners,” says Burnett. “This lawsuit is just the beginning. It foreshadows a very slippery slope in the future.”
Governor Corbett has acknowledged the concerns about the law, but recently defended signing it.
“We did not see any see anything illegal about the bill at this point in time,” he told StateImpact Pennsylvania, “It’s the people speaking through their General Assembly.”
The complaint was filed by EQT on July 22 — less than two weeks after Corbett signed the law.
Below is the portion of the lawsuit that specifically mentions the new pooling law: