Legislation Unanimously Approved During First Meeting of the 199th General Assembly
HARRISBURG – Two bills that will work to protect natural gas leaseholders in Bradford County and across Pennsylvania were unanimously approved today by the state Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, according to committee Chairman, and prime sponsor, Gene Yaw (R-23).
During the first Senate meeting of the 2015-2016 legislative session, the committee considered Senate Bills 147 and 148, both Yaw leaseholder protection bills, as well as Senate Bill 279, sponsored by Senator Scott Hutchinson (R-21).
“Our goal is to ensure that leaseholders across Pennsylvania are treated fairly,” Yaw said. “Most notably in Bradford County, but across my district, leaseholders have contacted me with concern over inadequate payments and questionable deductions from their royalty checks. This legislation will undoubtedly work to level the playing field.”
“These bills are needed to provide landowners with more accurate and complete information,” said Joel Rotz, Senior Director of State Government Affairs for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB). “The more information, the better relationship there is between landowners and gas developers.”
As approved today, Senate Bill 147 would allow a royalty interest owner the opportunity to inspect records of a gas company to verify proper payment. In addition, the legislation requires that proceeds from production of oil and gas shall be paid within 90 days of production to ensure monthly royalty payments, unless otherwise stated in the lease.
Further, Senate Bill 148 would prohibit a gas company from retaliating against a royalty interest owner by terminating the lease agreement or ceasing development because a landowner questions the accuracy of the royalty payments.
“Unfortunately, last session, this legislation was not approved by the House of Representatives,” Yaw added. “Having these bills unanimously approved during the very first Senate Committee meeting of the new session is a clear sign that action on these bills is essential. I do not intend to give up on this fight to protect the interests of my constituents.”
Senate Bill 279, also unanimously approved by the Committee, would establish the Penn Grade Crude Development Advisory Council, which will study existing regulations and assist the Department of Environmental Protection in making changes that better address the differences between conventional and unconventional oil and gas production.
During the committee meeting, Yaw also welcomed Senators Camera Bartolotta (R-46) and John Blake (D-22) as the newest members of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.
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