Unjust, Anti-Environmental Fracking Law Should Be Repealed

I’m a longtime resident of the West side of our region. However, I own ancestral land in Southeastern Ohio. For years, my family has been hounded and bullied by the fracking industry. We would tell them that we will never sell or lease our land, and they would continue to pester us. Moreover, they bully us by telling us that once they get enough people who are willing to lease their land, they can “force pool” our land by utilizing O.R.C. 1509.27 to take our mineral rights without our consent. 

In return for having our land violated, they will pay us an amount less than what other people receive because of the “trouble” they would have to go through in order to violate our land. Therefore, they can pressure land owners to sign now, or else they will just be paid even less later, when they don’t have a choice.

This law is all that is wrong with state and national politics. It checks the boxes of bad government: A. It is antienvironment B. It manages to simultaneously infringe on people’s property rights C. It creates a perverse incentive to minimize the value received of land owners and maximize the profit of fracking companies and D. It is clearly created and maintained by the stranglehold the oil and gas lobby have in state government.

This land is a priceless part of my family heritage, and I would never consent to leasing it for any reason. In addition, I’m an ardent environmentalist, and would never be a willing part of a process harmful to our environment. I will NEVER sign any agreement with the fracking companies to exploit my land, for both of those reasons. 

I have looked into waging a legal fight to prevent my land from being taken from me, but the oil and gas lobby has done a good job of seeing the law written and maintained. That means once they intimidate a critical mass of neighboring land owners into leasing them their land, my land can be force pooled, and they will have rights to it without my consent. 

I call on all candidates for state office; state representative candidates, state senate candidates, and gubernatorial candidates, to commit to overturning O.R.C. 1509.27.

I’ve been very disappointed by the anemic response I’ve received when asking for leadership on this issue over the years from a number of different state office holders and candidates, all of whom I otherwise respect.

Democrats have an interest in overturning this law because it is good for the environment, and good for working class people who don’t want to be bullied by the oil and gas lobby. Republicans have an interest in letting the free market take care of itself, which is one of the tenants they purport to hold most dear. Both sides have an interest in getting rid of a law so instinctively unjust, that creates such perverse incentives. Yet neither side has made a peep about overturning it, perhaps fearful of the response of the fracking lobby. 

Andrew A. Meyer is an attorney and resident homeowner in Lakewood.

Andrew Meyer

An attorney living and working in Lakewood with his wife, Harmony Hicks.

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Volume 14, Issue 13, Posted 6:08 PM, 07.03.2018