Natural gas drilling causes 75% property value loss
Drilling can dig into land value
Saturday, September 18, 2010, By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe
One year to the day after a company set up its drilling rigs on their land in eastern Wise County, Tim and Christine Ruggiero confirmed the depth of their loss.
Originally on the 2010 tax rolls for $257,330, their home and 10-acre horse property are now worth $75,240.
Is this the American Dream gone wrong, or what? I thought the Republican Party was all about personal property rights? Which will it be: Property Rights or Drill, Baby, drill? Because you can't have both with a Split Estate.
The Distinction Between Surface Owners and Mineral Owners:
Do you think you own your home or property? Think again.
In most states, all land has a surface owner who owns everything on the surface and above and a mineral owner who owns everything under the surface. The two owners are not always the same person. Sometimes the land gets sold but the original owner retains all or a portion of the mineral estate.
According to Judon Fambrough, attorney and real estate specialist who has taught Oil and Gas Law at Texas A&M for the past 22 years, the surface estate exists for the benefit and use of the mineral owner.
When a mineral owner leases their mineral estate to an oil and gas operator, the leases are actually deeds that grant ownership, on a limited bases, to the oil and gas operator for as long as the lease continues. The mineral lessee/operator can use as much of the surface as is "reasonably necessary" for mineral exploration and production. This can be a bitter pill for the surface owner who pays for the land, pays property taxes but has almost no rights when it comes to exploration and production of the minerals.
In his technical report entitled Minerals, Surface Rights, and Royalty Payments, Fambrough writes, "This privilege springs from the executed mineral lease. Independent permission from the surface owner is not necessary. No responsibility exists for restoring the surface or for paying surface damages. Liability arises only when the lessee (the oil company or other entity leasing the minerals) goes beyond what is reasonably necessary or negligently injures the surface."
Good luck trying to prove that any negligence or injury has occurred. Your pockets simply aren’t deep enough.
Here is a map showing a bird's eye view of the Ruggiero property:
The families in the Denton Record Chronicle article, Tim and Christine Ruggiero and Mayor Calvin and Tiffany Tillman, won't be able to sell their homes and move away to protect their family's health. As a realtor on the appraisal board said:
"I wouldn’t sell it for $78,000," said Patsy Slimp, a board member and former real estate agent. "I could not sell this house in a clear conscience."
These are not isolated cases!
Natural gas extraction is currently happening in 34 states and in 34 states citizens are suffering the effects:
- Water use, it's not sustainable
- Water contamination
- Emissions of smog forming VOCs, toxic compounds, GHG
- Loss of farm and ranch land
- Loss of wild spaces
- Loss of property value
- Health impacts
- Natural gas development requires Mountain Top Removal!!!
STORIES FROM SHALE HELL
Marcellus Shale Hell
Steph Hallowich and her family live on top of the Marcellus Shale. In Steph's own words:
We live in Hydrocarbon Hell! PHOTO
The following surrounds our property (with approx distances from our home):
Stewart Well #1 - 1,100 feet (Range Resources)
Stewart Well #4 - 1,100 feet (Range Resources)
Stewart Well #6 - 2,100 feet (Range Resources)
Stewart Well #8 - 940 feet (Range Resources)
Impoundment - 450 feet (Range Resources)
Gas processing plant - 1,100 feet (Williams Gas)
Compressor station - 1,600 feet (MarkWest Energy)
Meter station - 1,600 feet (Williams Gas)
Our well water is contaminated. We have manganese, iron & lead well above EPA's safe drinking standards. We have acrylonitrile, toluene, ethyl benzene, tetrachlorethene and syrene in our water. There is probably more, but who knows what to test for??? It turns brown and black. It smells like rotten eggs. We have to open the windows to flush the toilets. Then that leads us to the next evil...
We started having air testing done. The initial tests showed excessively high levels of VOC's and did detect H2S.
So we open the windows to flush, then hurry up and shut them before the VOC's get in. Lesser of two evil's???
We have a 1,500 gallon water tank sitting in our garage. It has cost us over $5,000 in the last year for water, tank rental and pump rental. For water...
We can't find anyplace to rent in SW PA, unless it is a dump. All the decent places are jammed with Texans. We can't buy another house, because all of our money is tied up in the current house.
Our house is worth NOTHING!
Before photo of the Hallowich property:
After photo of the Hallowich property:
Fayetteville Shale Hell
Last week I was in Arkansas where the Ozark Mountains are being fracked by Mountain Top Removal to mine for hydraulic fracturing sand. Donna Adolph and her family moved to Arkansas to live their American Dream. Now that dream is a nightmare.
In Donna's own words:
We moved to Arkansas five and a half years ago and bought our dream retirement farm and built a beautiful custom home (I'm still working as a teacher, but my husband is 14 years older is retired). After we moved here SEECO/Halliburton started drilling and "fracking" for natural gas in our immediate area. ( I developed breast cancer two years ago. I did research about causes and have been diligent to avoid any xenoestrogens from chemical contamination and petroleum product exposure. No one in my family has breast cancer and I wonder if it was caused by gas drilling chemical exposure ) Originally, our water was magnificent: 60 gpm clear, bountiful, sweet smelling. When fracking got closer we started noticing a lot of red deposits in our toilets and sinks.
Donna has a blog where she blogs daily about drilling issues in her area and around the country: Arkansans for Gas Drilling Accountability. Blog posts of particular interest:
- Giants in the Land
- Mother's Day Reflection on Gas Drilling
- Dumping in streams....yeah...it's happening...UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
- Molasses dumping in streambed??? NOT!!!! It's a Petroleum Product!
Barnett Shale Hell
This is the area I know best and there are hundreds of stories here. I think this Al Jeezera English video does a good job of summing up some of the issues:
Look at what has happened in the once highly sought place to live, the Argyle - Bartonville Community. Williams just plopped down a gas processing plant right in the middle of a neighborhood full of beautiful homes and only 100' from a little boy's bedroom window. VIDEO In these communities they Live Each Day With Courage.
Susan and Michael Knoll worked hard so they could buy their piece of the American Dream in Bartonville, Texas. They were never told that they built their dream home on top of a toxic dump that was surrounded by natural gas drilling and all the infrastructure that comes with it. Runner Susan, who once blogged about running, wine, fashion and martini sex with her husband, now blogs about natural gas extraction and it's effects on her health, her dogs' health and her property value.
Here is an aerial photo we lucked out and found. It shows Susan's home during the construction phase in June 2007 and right behind the home, hidden by trees is a toxic waste pit used for drilling waste. In June 2007, we received a record 32 inches of rain.
Susan has high levels of radiation on her property. I recently posted a video here of Susan making "plastic" with her fracked water. It's no wonder her water and property have impacts. Here is a map of the drilling activity surrounding her home:
These are real stories about real people. We need you to pay attention! Our planet needs you to pay attention. NATURAL GAS IS NOT ANY CLEANER THAN COAL! After 6+ years of reporting on these issues, I have learned many things. I am in this for the long haul and I know that eventually YOU will be impacted. So, if you don't pay attention now, you will soon.