This week, NBC 4 investigated if landowners are being “ripped” off by oil and gas companies buying up land for fracking. As fracking is starting boom in Ohio, State Representative Mark D. Okey recently introduced his “Truth in Leasing” bill (HB 493) to protect Ohio’s landowners against fraud, abuse, and deceptive practices by the oil and natural gas industry.
HB 493 will include provisions in three main areas: fairness, honesty, and accountability. Minimum royalty payments will be set at a level that reasonably compensates landowners for their resources, while prohibiting oil companies from using legal loopholes to take more than their fair share. Landowners would have the right to yearly audits – at the driller’s expense – to ensure that their royalty payments are accurate.
To guarantee an honest leasing process, the “landmen” who secure leases on behalf of drillers would be subject to a new licensing system. Before any lease is signed, landowners must be informed of their rights and encouraged to consult with an independent attorney to protect their interests.
Finally, companies would be held accountable for the consequences of drilling, by disclosing all chemicals and compounds used to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, paying for the testing of local water supplies before and after drilling, and issuing public notification of any accidents or incidents related to drilling that may result in property damage or health risks.