Family Feud Fuels Anti-Drilling Folly, Fiasco

Last week, the Wall Street Journal featured the leasing saga of the Price family, a Silver Lake Township, Pa., clan whose fickle family feud has further fueled the fight for freedom to profit from land in the Marcellus Shale gas fields.

Particularly disturbing is the hypocrisy and attitude of Mr. Stevens, the grandson of the deceased landowner, who along with his two siblings, now splits one-third share of the property.

“This is all about getting their meat hooks and Dracula fangs into the ground,” the California native said.

Meanwhile, Stevens was busy sinking his teeth in a contract renegotiation with lease holder Chesapeake Energy Corp., despite admitting his grandmother was mentally competent and the company was under no obligation to do so.

Even though the company agreed to now pay 160 times the amount of money agreed to originally, plus added environmental and legal safeguards for the family and community, Stevens’ anti-drilling thirst was far from slaked.

Stevens’ new mission is to stop the natural gas boom that has brought prosperity to so many, while still accepting money from the lease he so adamantly opposed. It is a common story among anti-drilling activists like Stephanie and Chris Hallowich and Ron Gulla, who have accepted lease and royalty payments while refusing offers to purchase their land.

Now drilling opponents are looking at legal tools that would weaken property rights in the name of ending natural gas drilling. The Huffington Post explains the right to quiet enjoyment and anticipatory nuisance, legal concepts that could allow neighbors to sue a leasee.

Of course, natural gas drillers are rightfully being held accountable to environmental and safety standards.  Meanwhile, folks once labeled as watchdogs have now delved into the realm of contract revisionists and extremists who don’t mind taking money from an industry they are clearly just trying to kill.