Fracking Impacts: Landowner Rights

Fracking well in Geauga County
Fracking well in Geauga County, Ohio

As with any industrial activity, the development of oil and gas involves risks to air, land, water, wildlife, and communities.

According to a Quinnapiac Poll conducted in January 2012, Ohioans are divided on the issue of shale gas development. Two to one, Ohioans say that the economic benefits of drilling outweigh the environmental concerns; yet, three to one Ohioans say we should stop fracking until further studies are conducted.

What should you do if a "landman" or drilling company knocks on your door wanting to buy your mineral rights, or otherwise enter on your land? The Ohio Environmental Council offers the following (non-legal) advice:

  1. Get an attorney – someone with experience in oil and gas contracts would be optimal, but any attorney with experience in real estate or other experience reviewing contracts would be helpful/beneficial.  Contact your local bar association for a referral, or use the Ohio State Bar Association’s online tool to find an attorney in your area.
  2. Get your water tested by a certified Ohio EPA lab – baseline testing is key to protecting your property and receiving just compensation if there is a problem.  Also, if you do sign a lease have pre and post drilling testing by a certified lab be part of the conditions for signing.
  3. Understand the risks to your drinking water. The US EPA is in the midst of a study focusing on the water impacts associated with shale gas development. The agency hopes to assess whether hydraulic fracturing can impact drinking water resources and to identify driving factors that affect the severity and frequency of any impacts. Visit the U.S. EPA fact sheet about this study.
  4. Research who is going to be drilling on your land – are they involved in lawsuits for water pollution, property damage, or breach of contract, or have they sold off some of their holdings  -- the company your leasing with today may sell off those mineral rights to someone else.
  5. Visit FracTracker’s website to explore data, photographs and impacts of the shale gas industry in our sister state Pennsylvania.