LETTER: Landowners face losing their rights

Feb. 05, 2014 @ 04:57 AM

To the Editor:

Many people in the area are looking at hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for gas as only having positive effects on our community. Any time you plan anything, you must consider a “worst case scenario.” The reported, documented cases of water well, soil and air contamination, along with health problems near drilling sites in other states, should make us look closer at the story that the industry and their cronies are pushing here. Compulsory/forced pooling is the taking of your property rights, by force of law, against your will, and giving those rights to the oil and gas industry.

James Womack, chairman, N.C.M.E.C., has repeatedly stated in meetings that “Compulsory (forced pooling) has been allowed by the N.C. law since the 1940s.” We all realize that we have outdated laws on the books. When was the last time that you heard of a Lee County landowner having his or her property rights taken by force of law, and those property rights given to a private company so that it could make a profit?

Womack says that compulsory pooling will not be used until 90 percent of land (acreage, not parcels) in an area is voluntarily leased, and then the other 10 percent of landowners that refuse to lease will be forced to give up their property rights. In Lee County, most landowners own ten (10) acres or fewer. If a handful of landowners who own large amounts of land lease to the gas industry, then hundreds of landowners who have small parcels will have their property rights taken by force. Rural Advancement Foundation International has shown, using data provided by Lee County Strategic Services, with G.I.S. analysis by Director Don Kovasckitz, that with the 90 percent threshold, up to 55 percent of landowners in Lee County face losing their property rights. Subdivisions with restrictive covenants will not be exempt from compulsory pooling.

When people move into our community and get themselves elected/appointed to key decision-making positions and they start promoting ideas that are contrary to our core values, they should be removed from those positions.

W. Ed Jr. and Doris C. Harris