LETTER: Landowners beware

Sep. 11, 2013 @ 04:58 AM

The letter from Keely Wood in the Sept. 5 edition was well written and factual. I wish to point out two fracking situations that have not been discussed in The Herald that landowners need to be aware of.

When landowners lease their property to a driller (a limited liability corporation, “LLC” ), the landowners will share liability for any damages attributed to the LLC. If there is a catastrophic event such as a well blowout, property or environmental damage, illness or deaths, then you, the landowner who signed the lease, can and probably will be included in any resulting lawsuit. In a lawsuit, only your assets and those of the LLC can be included. The assets of the owner of the drilling company are exempt from the lawsuit (except in cases of gross criminal negligence). If the LLC is leasing office space, office equipment, trucks and drilling equipment, the LLC has no assets other than their bond, which could be as little as $5,000. The LLC can file bankruptcy, which leaves the landowner(s) holding the bag for damages.

The second thing is: When a landman creates a drilling unit, with leased and compulsory/ forced pooled properties, there is nothing to prevent him from selling those mineral rights to a foreign company or country like China. What we will likely see with compulsory/forced pooled properties is the property rights/mineral rights being taken from American citizens by force of law and transferred to a foreign entity.

Politicians that I’ve asked about this say that it can’t or probably won’t happen, but I think it can and will happen. If there are any legal professionals who know of a law, regulation or ordnance that will 100 percent absolutely prevent these situations from happening, please share the information with the public in this publication. It’s my opinion that the gas industry has gotten their operatives elected/appointed to key positions in local and state government, the N.C. MEC and the N.C. DENR. To a free people, this is unacceptable.

W. Ed Jr. & Doris C. Harris

Sanford