Posted: Mar 26, 2012 10:30 AM EDT
Updated: Mar 26, 2012 10:30 AM EDT
State Representative Mark D. Okey introduced today his “Truth in Leasing” bill to protect Ohio’s landowners against fraud, abuse, and deceptive practices by the oil and natural gas industry.
“We need to make sure that drilling in Ohio is conducted safely and fairly for all parties involved,” Rep. Okey said. “Far too many landowners are deceived into signing leases that deny them the compensation and accountability that they are entitled to.”
According to a press release, The Truth in Leasing Act 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.
“This is common sense legislation that will prevent exploitation of Ohio’s citizens and resources,” Rep. Okey said. “More and more leases are being signed every day. It is imperative to move quickly to protect as many landowners as possible.”
Rep. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) will be a joint sponsor of the bill.