Drilling companies have struck one-sided deals with North Carolina landowners, say agricultural, energy and legal experts who have seen the contracts. These contracts promise to pay property owners bonuses and royalties far below rates commanded in other states. And, depending on the wording, property owners could be financially responsible for the costs of cleaning up environmental damage, fines for zoning and land-use violations and other legal fees–costs that could far exceed the royalty payments.
The RAFI blog also has this post today about the effort to get landowners some protection against the predatory language in the lease agreements.
Landowners can’t wait. There are already approximately 100 leases accounting for over 9,400 acres of mineral rights in Lee County that have been signed. These leases contain predatory clauses that
* Put the liability for ALL environmental damage on the landowner,
* Do not compensate the landowner for any damage to his/her property,
* Allow the landowner to be sued by his/her neighbor if the company pollutes the land, and
* Allow the company to come on the landowner’s property at any time with no notice and drill anywhere on the property.