Fracking By Force: Company Wants to Force Landowners to Let Them Drill For Gas

An oil company is trying to use a state law in Pennsylvania to force residents to allow drilling on their land.  Hilcorp wants to drill for gas even if landowners don’t want to let them.

So in response, the company is trying to use a 1961 state law that allows them to drill under property without explicit permission.  The law is based on a concept known as “forced pooling,” meaning that the company can bundle lease-owners with non-lease owners, and then force landowners without leases to allow drilling.

The landowners could win thousands of dollars if they yield to the company.  But at least four property owners are holding out.  One homeowner named Suzanne Matteo called the potential for forced drilling “un-American.” Matteo told the Associated Press she is worried about pollution and drilling’s impact on property values.

Hilcorp also stands to profit from the drilling, also known as fracking.  They’ve been pushing the use of the “forced pooling” law since July to convince landowner Bob Svetlak to allow Hilcorp to drill.  He has refused.

“I didn’t buy this land to sell it,” Svetlak said earlier in the year. “I bought it for peace and property, like a lot of people in this country. I live here for the tranquility.”

Hilcorp’s attempts will be adjudicated by Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection.  As Think Progress’ Katie Valentine notes, the company’s claims have been criticized by Governor Tom Corbett, who called “forced pooling” a case of “private eminent domain.”


Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.