Corbett OKs Bill Strengthening Drillers' Rights

Governor Tom Corbett has signed legislation that critics say was fast-tracked and undermines some landowners' negotiating rights when dealing with drilling companies.
Corbett signed the bill without comment Tuesday. The National Association of Royalty Owners says the bill's last-minute changes allow drilling companies to use decades-old mineral leases to force landowners to allow Marcellus Shale natural gas wells on their properties.
Industry group the Marcellus Shale Coalition says it helps drilling proceed in the most efficient and environmentally sensitive manner. But NARO member Trevor Walczak says most lawmakers didn't understand the provision.
The legislation means heirs to drilling leases signed decades ago for traditional, shallow vertical wells could be forced to allow deep shale gas wells that include underground horizontal bores extending out thousands of feet, even under neighbors' properties.

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