Letter to the Editor, Sept. 6, 2013
EDITOR: To the Rome Township road crew: A big THANK YOU to Mike and his crew for the great job they have done improving the Rome Township roads. Now it is a real treat to drive on the roads. Thanks for the excellent upgrades and keep up the good work!
Knowledge is power and ignorance is bliss
EDITOR: This letter is in response to the editorial by State Senator Gene Yaw titled: Facts Rather Than Ignorance. I was born and raised in Bradford County. I have lived here all of my life living/operating a dairy farm. While attending school functions, the county fair or even local auctions; my path has crossed with many that call Bradford County their home. In my opinion, the best way to characterize Bradford County is its tranquil and rural beauty and the residents are trustworthy, generous, loyal people. I would never call my neighbors, classmates, or friends ignorant for their opinions. We were raised to honor a man's word. Many would tell you, "A man's word is as good as his handshake."
In previous years, oil and gas leases were signed. Some were automatic renewal leases, yet nothing ever became of them until this wave of enthusiasm and grandeur caught the county by storm. Landowners were treated like royalty. We were invited to auditoriums where free hats, pens, tablets and snacks awaited us. Our local elected officials would introduce the speakers as if they were to be trusted ol' friends. There were promises of clean abundant fuel and it would keep our country independent from foreign oil. The gas companies explained their operations. They even said, "We wouldn't even know that they were here." Promise after promise was made at the kitchen table, no one being the wiser that these promises were deceptions in disguise. In early January 2012, State Rep. Tina Pickett, Commissioners Darryl Miller, Doug McLinko, and Mark Smith went to New Mexico, on a "fact finding" mission. Were production or post production cost, and royalty payments ever discussed? Not even our local and state politicians expressed concern over the deals (leases) being made. If a landowner had any doubt about the language of a lease, the best advice offered by our elected officials was to contact an attorney for legal advice.
That is when the red flags should have popped up. We should have asked which attorney studied oil and gas law and required that attorney to sign an agreement stating that they didn't have a retainer agreement with any oil and gas company operating in Pennsylvania. Not once did Senator Yaw, State Rep. Tina Pickett or our county commissioners hold an informative meeting warning us that the landowner would become a "prudent partner" with a gas company should we sign a lease. Are you aware that a mechanics lien could be filed against the landowner if the prudent partner (gas company) didn't pay its debt? Why didn't we define the terminology used in the leases? Did any elected official warn you that a lease was a contractual agreement to sell your subsurface property? Now, there are companies, countries, and wealthy individuals owning equal or less than percentage of interest in subsurface property that will not be subject to post-production costs or the taxes that may follow later on. The burden is ours until royalty interest; working royalty interest is truly defined by our legislators. As Bradford County landowners and residents go through the "educational" pains and learn hard lessons about royalty payments, change in property value, unreliable job opportunity, and a changes to the composition of our water, soil, and air; we become powerful in knowledge.
As relayed in an article in a local newspaper, State Rep. Tina Pickett said in response to the recent layoffs by Chesapeake Energy, "We seriously relied on all of those contacts to solve those problems." Pickett recalled the earliest days of the gas boom and how she lamented that some companies did not have people "on the ground" whom she could call when she had a question. (The Rocket Courier, Aug. 23, 2013) It should have been our elected officials setting the rules of operation. Not the gas companies advising them on the dos and don'ts of the operation. The fact is, the elected officials relied on the gas companies input instead of doing their homework and trusting in what their constituents were telling them.
Whenever, I or other landowners addressed issues concerning the gas industry to our state senator, House representative and our county commissioners; we were told we needed to bring them the FACTS. The fact is Bradford County residents, landowners are very smart and trusting, but we are living and paying for the elected officials' ignorance. Perhaps that is why Senator Yaw felt he had to insult his constituents. With knowledge is power. Our power is in voting. Voting is change!