Corbett OKs bill strengthening drillers’ rights

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gov. Tom Corbett has signed legislation that critics say was fast-tracked and undermines some landowners’ negotiating rights when dealing with drilling companies.

Corbett signed the bill without public comment Tuesday. In a letter to lawmakers, he says it’s his intention to enhance the efficiency of drilling for oil and gas while protecting the rights of landowners and leaseholders. Industry group the Marcellus Shale Coalition supports the new law.

However, a landowners group, the National Association of Royalty Owners, says many lawmakers didn’t understand the bill’s last-minute changes.

The legislation means heirs to drilling leases signed decades ago for traditional, shallow vertical wells could be forced to allow deep Marcellus Shale natural gas wells that include underground horizontal bores extending out thousands of feet, even under neighbors’ properties.

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