East Smithfield, P.a. (WETM-TV) - In response to complaints from landowners in the Northern Tier, A group of P.a. lawmakers are creating a bill that would clarify state law on royalty payments for landowners who say they are being cheated by drilling companies.
But the Chairman of the Bradford County Commissioners doesn't think this bill will pass- and property owners could be in trouble.
We met with Jackie Kingsley who tells us she is owed more than $50 thousand dollars from two drilling companies.
Kingsley is collecting checks from four different gas wells in Bradford County.
Based on a law passed in 1979 landowners like Kinglsey, are guaranteed a minimum royalty payment on gas wells.
The minimum is one eighth of the value of the gas made on their property.
But Kingsley says she and her neighbors are victims of post-production costs- where drilling companies are deducting from monthly royalty checks for extra costs like transportation and compression.
Now, she wants legislators to encourage gas companies to be transparent.
"I would like the state to take a stand and define what minimum royalty is- and what the residents should expect in terms of minimum royalties. What deductions are legitimate and what ones aren't? We certainly need more transparent statements," she says.
State representatives are working on a bill that would help prevent deductions from royalty payments below 12.5 percent.
But chairman of the Bradford County Commissioners, Doug McLinko tells us he's not optimistic the bill will be approved by the state.
While he supports many in the industry, he thinks lawmakers will soon be put to the test.
"When it comes to the financial end, they have completely dropped the ball. I want to know who is going to stand up for the property owner or the lobbyist. I think both parties have turned their back on Bradford County."
MckLinko adds these millions of dollars in deductions across P.a. aren't being taxed.
The money could go to the state and its local districts, but instead it's leaving the state with the drilling companies.