‘Gasland’ Director Celebrates as Pennsylvania Property Owners Lose Millions

Hess Corp. and Newfield Exploration Co. give up on drilling in Upper Delaware.

Landowners are furious and Josh Fox is doing a happy dance, since it was reported on July 16 that Hess Corp. and Newfield Exploration Co. have notified property owners their drilling leases are no longer in effect.

The gas leases had been signed before the three-year moratorium on gas drilling in Wayne county and the Delaware River Basin area imposed by regulators with the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC). The companies did not comment about whether the moratorium played a role in their decision, but the property owners certainly think it did.

“The lease is gone. It is no longer in force. They are releasing the properties,” Peter Wynne of the Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance (NWPOA) told the Associated Press. The group says that this means $187 million in lost income for landowners and are threatened to sue the DRBC for the loss. 

That money now won’t be spent in Wayne County, or be taxed to help with roads and other services, according to Betty Sutliff of the executive committee of NWPOA. 

She told the Business and Media Institute that “This area will probably never again see the coming together of 1,300 families and 100.000 acres with a very comprehensive, environmentally-sound, landowner-friendly lease, all leased with two reputable companies in joint venture. The likelihood is that the landowners are not going to endure another costly negotiation marathon, but will succumb to smaller less reputable companies, with boilerplate leases and far fewer protections.” 

According to anti-fracking group Marcellus Protest and their Facebook feed, “Gasland” and “Gasland Part II” director and fracking opponent Fox was thrilled to hear the announcement. “I can't believe it and I can't stop crying. The companies that leased 80,000 acres in my township, in the upper Delaware River Basin [PA] are LEAVING. CANCELLING ALL THE LEASES,” he wrote. 

Of course that doesn’t mean Fox is done attacking the practice. He continued saying, “WE WIN! AND WE WON’T STOP UNTIL WE WIN EVERYWHERE.”

Sutliff said that Fox has done a “great disservice” to the region and that he is wrong if he thinks this means an end to drilling in the basin. “Drilling will happen eventually [once regulations are settled on] and unfortunately for all it will be not under one restrictive lease with two extremely reputable companies,” Sutliff said.

The news of gas companies leaving northern Pennsylvania comes on the heels of Fox’s “Gasland Part II” a misleading and conspiratorial examination of hydraulic fracturing. Sadly, the slanted information presented by Fox often crops up in network news stories. 

Hollywood films critical of fracking, such Fox’s “Gasland,” Matt Damon’s “Promised Land” and others, and celebrity fracktivists were mentioned or included in half of the network reports about fracking between Jan. 1, 2010, and April 30, 2013.