A gas reserves pooling law is about fairness

In the Sept. 22 editorial “Shale Worries: Loss of Property Rights Could Be the Next Threat,” the Post-Gazette mischaracterizes the concept of fair pooling, a policy that states have used wisely for generations to reduce above-ground surface activities, while maximizing responsible shale gas production and its host of benefits.

Pooling — which is on the books in every major energy-producing state for horizontal drilling, except Pennsylvania — ensures that mineral owners are compensated for the production of their natural gas.

Your readers, and your editorial writers, should understand that new technologies allow natural gas reserves to be reached thousands of feet below ground, and thousands of feet horizontally from a drilling pad. Unfortunately, under current law, a single landowner could deny the rights of a vast majority of landowners from producing their natural gas reserves. How fair is that?

In June 2009, the Post-Gazette editorialized in favor of a severance tax on shale gas production because “most states, including West Virginia, already” have such a tax, adding that “it is only fair that Pennsylvania share in the wealth.” By that logic, doesn’t Pennsylvania need a common-sense pooling statute, too, since other states (including West Virginia) have one?

The paper is right to characterize Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry as a source of “promising new jobs and income”; in fact, the responsible development of the state’s shale gas resources has created more than 44,000 jobs so far in the commonwealth, with many more in the coming months and years. A competitive tax structure, along with common-sense laws such as fair pooling, will only help build on this tremendous and historic opportunity.

DAVID CALLAHAN

Vice President

Marcellus Shale Coalition

– Link to original Letter to the Editor in Pittsburgh Post-Gazettehttp://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10270/1090577-110.stm