Bradford County has released a video sharply criticizing gas driller Chesapeake Energy for allegedly cheating its residents out of royalty money.
Advocates are pushing for a bill to address what they’re calling the “PA royalty ripoff.” The county commissioners announced last month they would contract with a public relations firm to produce a video about the issue and send it out to Pennsylvania elected officials. They hired former Donald Trump adviser Michael Caputo to run the campaign.
“This is the shot across the bow,” says Caputo. “If this bill doesn’t pass next week, we have built and will deploy a statewide grassroots campaign to make sure it passes next time around.”
Gas companies are lobbying against the measure and argue the bill would unconstitutionally impair lease contracts. The video singles out Chesapeake Energy, which has faced lawsuits over its royalty practices in at least six states, including Pennsylvania.The company also recently disclosed it’s facing a federal probe into its accounting practices.
“Chesapeake recognizes that royalty owners may have questions regarding lease interpretation and royalty calculation,” says company spokesman Gordon Pennoyer in an email. “We are committed to working with our royalty owners to answer any questions they may have and are happy to schedule a time to review their lease provisions.”