In a show of community support for a gas royalty bill, Bradford County Commissioners will be providing free transportation to and from a rally in Harrisburg on Tuesday, September 27th.
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives could vote on the bill, known as House Bill 1391, as soon as Tuesday. The bill would ensure that lessors would receive a 12.5% royalty payment for drilling that is done on their property. Although the Pennsylvania Guaranteed Minimum Royalty Act of 1979 states that mineral owners must get at least a 12.5% royalty from gas and oil companies, some landowners in Bradford County say they are getting little to no royalty payments from Chesapeake Energy and and Chief Oil and Gas. Lease contracts which list post-production costs, such as the cost to transport the gas to the market via pipelines, can bring down the royalty payments landowners receive. A 2010 Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision gave drillers permission to include transportation costs when determining royalty payments.
Chesapeake Energy addressed the gas royalty issue in the following statement it provided to WNEP, “Individual leases spell out different contractual obligations for the parties involved. Chesapeake recognizes that lease interpretation and royalty calculation is complicated. 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. Where questions arise, Chesapeake has and will continue to engage in meaningful discussions in attempt to arrive at mutually acceptable resolutions.”
On June 27th, the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee approved House Bill 1391 which Representative Matt Baker (R) cosponsored. At a meeting on Tuesday, September 6th, Bradford County residents passed a resolution requesting the passage of House Bill 1391. In addition, landowners who are not getting the royalty payments they expect want the production at their wells to be halted. Resolution No. 2016-4 states that the landowners “demand production be discontinued from wells where landowners are having their royalty checks diminished to nothing or nearly nothing, or in some cases having their accounts accrue a negative balance due to companies deducting exorbitantly high post production costs.” Another meeting was held at the Towanda Area High School on Wednesday, September 14th.
Representative Garth Everett, who is also a sponsor of House Bill 1391, will be speaking at the rally. The rally starts at 11:30 a.m. The motor coaches will be leaving the Bradford Towne Center in West Towanda at 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday. If you would like to reserve a seat, please call (570) 265-1727, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations are gladly accepted in order to help offset the transportation costs.