Lease Regrets by Kelly, Shrewsbury Township resident
The following is a Facebook post from a farmer in Shrewsbury, a township in Sullivan County, Pennsylvania, USA. It is aimed at farmers who are thinking of allowing their land to be used fro fracking.
This is for all the people out there who are just waiting for the gas wells to go in so they can start collecting big bucks. Well, let me tell you a little about the big bucks.
We live in Lycoming County, on 43 acres. We were first offered $2 an acre to allow the gas company to “explore” our land. Next, they told us that there was gas under our land and that we would be able to collect royalties. They said we could see almost $1000 per acre in royalties that would last up to 50 years. $1,000 x 43 x 50 = over 2 million! That sounded great! We thought we were going to be rich, and never have to worry about money again.
We were in a hurry to get the money so we were in a hurry to sign the lease as quickly as possible, in spite of the fact that the contract was really long and confusing and full of big words. We signed a lease for 10 years, but didn’t realise they could automatically renew it for another five years, which they did.
After the first 10 years, we wanted out. The company we signed with had changed hands three times, cleared three miles of old growth trees, dug up our land, put in three wells and a pipeline, and ruined our roads. The traffic was awful: big, loud diesel trucks running up and down our roads all day and night. Trucks also leaked contaminated fluids into the nearby creek.
It’s been 15 years since we signed. Now, they’ve shut down all the wells around us because they aren’t producing. We spent money on a lawyer (trying to get out of the lease) and more money on tyres and alignments for our vehicles because of the potholes and road conditions. We lost many of our trees, and the wildlife we used to have here is nearly all gone. Our lawyer told us we should continue to have our drinking water tested several times a year to make sure it’s safe to drink, and those tests are expensive.
And where’s all the royalty money they said we would receive? There is none! We are left with abandoned wells, no royalty money, and the land all but destroyed. They promised they would restore the land and put it back the way it was, but we haven’t seen a single tree replanted. I’m 42 years old, I’ll be six feet under before the land ever looks like it did before the gas company showed up.
I hope this helps some of you who are eager to sign and see the money start to roll in. Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones to receive royalties, but you need to know that you’re sacrificing your water, your land, your animals, and your health – and nothing will be the same for the rest of your life. So think before you sign. We learned the hard way: the gas industry makes promises it can’t keep – and money isn’t everything.