Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
WHAT OTHER NEWSPAPERS ARE SAYING
Most gas companies try to work with the owners of land on which they set up rigs to drill for natural gas and oil. They avoid disturbing the surface when possible and often try to compensate landowners for damage.
But drillers' responsibilities in that regard can be very limited. If a landowner does not also hold title to the rights for minerals under his property, his leverage with gas and oil companies can be restricted.
West Virginia Supreme Court justices recently ruled against a landowner who had objected to a company's plan to drill on his property. Concerned about damage to his land, he had asked the state Department of Environmental Protection to require the drilling company to alter its plan. When the DEP approved the initial drilling plan, the landowner went to court.
Supreme Court justices ruled against the landowner. But in her written opinion, Justice Margaret Workman, backed by a unanimous court, urged the state Legislature to take another look at surface owners' rights. Lawmakers should "consider whether surface owners should be afforded an administrative appeal" of such DEP decisions, Workman recommended.
She is right -- though it needs to be emphasized altering the law at this stage of the gas drilling game could be difficult. ... Lawmakers should reconsider the rights of landowners who do not also own mineral rights for their property.
The Inter-Mountain, Elkins, W.Va.