Pa. high court settles shale gas rights question

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court is reinforcing long-standing case law on mineral rights that has guided the natural gas industry since it began exploring the Marcellus Shale formation.

The state’s high court ruled Wednesday in favor of a Susquehanna County couple, saying it stands by a 130-year-old ruling that separates mineral rights from gas rights.

The case stems from a dispute between John and Mary Josephine Butler and a man named Charles Powers and his heirs.

The deed for the Butler’s 244 acres in Apolacon Township splits “minerals and petroleum oils” between the parties. The Butlers contend it didn’t mention natural gas rights, so the gas should still belong to their property.

But a Superior Court panel said in 2011 it wasn’t certain that Powers’ heirs had no claim to the gas.

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