Landowners forced into fracking agreements


Letter to the Editor,

Ohio private property rights have been stolen by Ohio laws that force land owners into fracking their land regardless of their wishes. Many homeowners around the Tappan Lake region are now being targeted by a forced pooling or mandatory unitization action. “Ohio Revised Code 1509.27 provides a mechanism to unitize private property in order to benefit oil and gas profits over private property rights.

Forced or mandatory pooling is defined as when a “person who has obtained the consent of the owners of at least 65% of the land area overlying a pool or a part of a pool submits an application for the operation as a unit of the entire pool or part of the pool to the chief of the division of oil and gas resources management.” If approved, the application will force the remaining 35% of landowners to become part of the unit.

There are only three criteria to satisfy in order for the chief of the division of oil and gas at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to approve a mandatory pooling application. They are protecting correlative rights (those who have leased), providing for effective development and use, and promoting conservation of oil and gas. Any concerns over environmental harms or health effects are not considered.

There have been many amendments to the original laws written in 1965; however, these amendments do not address one of the most critical aspects of the laws, the risk-penalty provision. Landowners subject to the order only have the choice between the following: “relent and become a participant in the drilling unit or become a nonparticipating owner and pay a penalty of up to 200% of the reasonable costs and expenses of production.”

This penalty is a way to encourage nonconsenting owners to ultimately lease and helps the well operators from undergoing additional application fees and paperwork.

Refusing to sign a lease relinquishes the ability to write legal protections for your land. A lease agreement can allow a landowner to limit surface access, pipeline construction, the use of hydrocarbon storage tanks on the land and the drilling of injection wells to inject waste fluids. Basically, if you want to protect your property, you have no real options aside from writing a protective lease agreement.

In June 2022 the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District leased 7,300 acres around Tappan Lake to Encino Energy. A quick examination of the recent unitization hearings found on the ODNR unitization library site shows several proposed fracking laterals located across the Tappan Lake region, and all contain significant portions of MWCD land. We believe this has led to the mandatory pooling of our land as we live beside the lake. Our land is now part of Encino’s Akers HN FRA East Unit.

Property-owning citizens have no ability to stop this heinous process that pollutes the air, land and water and affects health and the environment. Ohio is not a democracy but rather an oligarchy run by fossil fuel companies.

Dr. Randi Pokladnik


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