Local legislators urge support for subsurface rights bill
HARRISBURG State Senator Gene Yaw (R-23) and State Representative Garth Everett (R-84) are urging the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by State Representative Ron Marsico (R-105) to consider Senate Bill 1324, a bill to help landowners claim ownership of unclear or unknown oil, gas and mineral right interests.
Senate Bill 1324 proposes to amend the Action to Quiet Title Law relating to ‘subsurface rights.’
“This bill says simply that if you are a surface owner of land and the ownership of mineral or oil and gas rights is unclear or unknown, after 50 years, you as the property owner are entitled to a slight advantage at the start of a court case to clarify the ownership question,” said Yaw. “The advantage proposed is a rebuttable presumption that the subsurface rights have been abandoned in favor of the surface owner. These types of cases primarily involve situations where the ownership of the subsurface rights is untraceable or never acknowledged in estate proceedings.”
“The Action to Quiet Title Law was chosen as a vehicle because it has extensive requirements to give notice to any potential owner in the chain of title,” said Everett. “Even then, if no one can be found there is a requirement to do advertising in a public newspaper.”
The bill was further strengthened, in part, by meeting with the Marcellus Shale Coalition, as well as the Pennsylvania Coal Association, in order to address their concerns, according to Yaw.
“The ultimate goal of this legislation is to help those landowners who want to lease the oil, gas and mineral resources beneath them, but cannot locate the current owners of those interests,” Yaw added. “This bill will help landowners, while at the same time protecting the interests of current mineral owners.”
Senate Bill 1324 has also received the endorsement of the National Association of Royalty Owners (NARO), the only national organization promoting the rights, responsibilities and the definitions of citizens who own the natural resources in the United States.