Landowners in Bradford County who say they have received little to no gas royalty payments rallied in Harrisburg on Tuesday, September 27th.
The transportation to the rally was free, and approximately 150 people attended the rally. The focus of the rally was House Bill 1391. Pennsylvania Representative Garth Everett (R-84) has been pushing for the passage of the bill on behalf of the landowners. House Bill 1391 would guarantee a 12.5% payment for landowners. Everett is the bill’s main sponsor, and Representative Matt Baker (R) co-sponsored it.
The Pennsylvania Guaranteed Minimum Royalty Act of 1979 states that mineral owners will get a minimum 12.5% royalty from gas and oil companies, however a 2010 Pennsylvania Supreme Court Decision allowed the drillers to include post-production costs when figuring out the royalty payments.
Landowners from Lycoming, Susquehanna, and Wyoming counties also support House Bill 1391. Tunkhannock landowner David Kintner said the following at the rally, “We need to pass HB 1391.” Kintner is also a real estate agent.
Wyalusing resident Joe Moore said his 75-year-old mother, who is a widow, isn’t getting the gas royalties that are owed to her and that it is “criminal”. He also said that the gas companies give her “nothing” in return for drilling on her land.
Representative Tina Pickett (R-110) says the issue affects more than just landowners. She said municipalities, school districts, families, water authorities, fire companies, and senior citizens are all affected by the gas royalty payment issue.
According to a StateImpact report, Senator John Rafferty (R-Berks) said, “People are being taken advantage of… This violates everything in this building we stand for.”
Also according to a StateImpact report, George Stark of Cabot Oil and Gas said the following, “I don’t think the entire industry needs to be painted with the same brush… It’s frustrating on my end to have a regional issue become a statewide issue.” Unlike the Bradford County residents at the rally, Stark believes Cabot Oil and Gas gives landowners proper gas royalty payments.
The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee approved House Bill 1391 on June 27th. On Tuesday, September 6th, residents of Bradford County passed a resolution asking for House Bill 1391 to be passed. According to the Pennsylvania General Assembly website, House Bill 1391 was removed from the table on Monday, September 26th.