All Wet on Fair Pooling

Fair Pooling protects the environment, reduces environmental footprints, and generates more revenue for environmental programs – so why do environmentalists oppose it?

CANONSBURG – When is an environmentalist not an environmentalist? How about when he sends a letter to lawmakers in Harrisburg demanding they reject a proposal that would result in greater efficiency in developing clean-burning natural gas from the Marcellus, far less disturbance to land while doing it, and millions in revenue for state programs to protect and preserve the environment?

Unfortunately, that’s precisely the letter that members of the General Assembly received this week – sent by a coalition of more than 30 groups that claim to support all the things that a Fair Pooling statute in Pennsylvania would make possible (smaller footprints and more revenue, especially), but nonetheless stand in opposition to the adoption of the actual plan.

Of course, virtually every energy-producing state in America has fair pooling protection on the books – and for good reason. Fair pooling allows for “equitable and efficient development of [natural gas] while preventing the drilling of unnecessary wells,” according to Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality – “at the same time, it protects an owner from having his or her oil and gas drained without compensation.”

The Harvard Law Review agrees: “Pooling is important in the prevention of drilling of unnecessary and uneconomic wells, which will usually result in physical and economic waste.” That line comes from an article on efforts to conserve oil and natural gas published in the Review back in 1952.

So if these environmental groups can’t defend their opposition to Fair Pooling on environmental grounds, what arguments do they use instead? See below a quick side-by-side of the charges leveled by these groups’ compared with the actual facts of what Fair Pooling is, and what it is not.

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