Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Update:Beam Me Up Scotty... It's Nut's Down Here

Beam Me Up Scotty... It's Nut's Down Here

CHANGE OF PLANS! May 2, 2012:
My wife and I stopped our search for Northern Nevada property about a year ago (May 2011) and decided to stay put here in Washington County. We based our decision on three things;
1. Pennsylvania Secretary Krancer, of DEP made a brilliant move that caused drillers to stop dumping frack waste water into the treatment plants and our public drinking water supply.
2. The Fukushima disaster proved to have an impact on the western United States. The EPA stopped sampling U.S. air for radioactivity but private organizations continued and readings went up in the U.S.. Today we have debris from Japan showing up on the west coast and we are getting the real information out of Japan's condition. And it's unprecendented. Japanese officials are grappling with fencing off whole towns for ten years, due to contamination.
3. It was just plain easier to stay put. Real estate here is stable (so far) and prices are reasonable.

After intensely researching the effects of shale gas drilling, it's time for my wife and I to prepare to move out of Washington County. We are basing our decision to move on three primary things;

1. Banks are not lending against frac-drilled properties and adjoining properties, here in Washington County.

2. Our public water supply is being used as a frac wastewater dump now - this is not some future thing. With 150,000 wells planned for Pennsylvania alone, it's accelerating.

3. Many Drillers (not all) are creating a massive financial bubble (which will burst), by inflating and flipping their leased and purchased drilling rights for up to 50 times their cost.

After reading Observer Reporter's, Brad Hundt's article, "As North Strabane Mulls Gas Drilling Regulations, Residents Voice Concern" on 6/24/2010, it's clear that the town Supervisors and Solicitor Pat Smider are not fully cognizant of what's really happening at frac-drilling sites.
Since Solicitor Smider is an attorney, I view the Solicitor as an authority in terms of administering the 'police powers' extended to North Strabane Township by the State. When I read the following quote, I was struck with a sense of betrayal and even fear;
Quote - "Pat Smider, North Strabane's solicitor, said the township was considering "competing interests" - the rights of energy companies and land owners to profit from drilling, and the health and safety of residents.
Smider also pointed out that oil and gas drilling is allowed throughout the commonwealth, subject to local regulation, and "if you're here to say you don't want oil and gas drilling at all, that's not the law. ... This is what we think we can control."" End quote.

The authority conferred upon the states by the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and which the states delegate to their political subdivisions to enact measures to preserve and protect the safety, health, welfare, and morals of the community. State legislatures exercise their police power by enacting statutes, and they also delegate much of their police power to counties, cities, towns, villages, and large boroughs within the state. Police power is also used as the basis for enacting a variety of substantive laws in such areas as Zoning, land use, fire and Building Codes, gambling, discrimination, parking, crime, licensing of professionals, liquor, motor vehicles, bicycles, nuisances, schooling, and sanitation.

If a law enacted pursuant to the police power does not promote the health, safety, or welfare of the community, it is likely to be an unconstitutional deprivation of life, liberty, or property. The most common challenge to a statute enacted pursuant to the police power is that it constitutes a taking. A taking occurs when the government deprives a person of property or directly interferes with or substantially disturbs a person's use and enjoyment of his or her property.

I have personally reviewed over a hundred cases of frac-drilled property damage in Pennsylvania and dozens more in Texas, Wyoming and Colorado. I have found that in almost all cases the landowners who signed a gas lease and the neighbors of those property owners have been left with toxic industrial sites. Many of their homes are un-inhabitable. These properties, many of which have no mortgage balances, are disqualified by the banks and even HUD for mortgage qualification. In my research I came across the writings of an attorney regarding the specifics of property values of frac-drilled properties;
Quote – “
Insufficient attention has been given to the possibility that the granting of drilling permits may ultimately result in reduced real estate values and assessments, not only on the property being fracked, but also on the neighboring properties. In addition, it may be that the mere signing of a lease may result in reduced property values in the neighborhood. The rationale is that it may be difficult or impossible to obtain future mortgages on leased or drilled properties, and also in obtaining future property insurance, generally known as homeowners insurance. For instance, HUD, a leading federal lender has a regulation which states, "No existing dwelling may be located closer than 300 feet from an active or planned drilling site. Note that this applies to the site boundary, not the actual well site." HUD Handbook 4150.2, page 2.7. It also applies where there is only a lease, and drilling is only "planned" for the future.
If you want to learn more, Google George A. Mathewson, Esq. (Retired) Former DEC Regional Attorney.” End quote.

I am an ardent supporter of private property rights and the freedom to utilize our property. Yet if I conduct activity on my property that destroys the property of my neighbors, I am committing a crime that falls under the authority of the township’s police powers. I am taking away their land value and their ability to use that land. They should expect to enjoy protection from their township’s authority to arrest my destructive behavior and protect their property rights. The police powers do not give me the right to profit from the use of my property at the expense of my neighbors.