Remember the scene from the movie 300? They were Sparta’s finest warriors arrayed in a closed ranked phalanx with shields held out. They were a very imposing and impenetrable formation. That is the vision one might get today when you try to simply speak to stakeholders in Illinois’ latest environmentally charged hot topic of Hydraulic Fracturing. Regardless of anyone’s professional interface within this new development it is with the environmental interest that most individuals begin to draw lines. Just like the 300 Spartans, you probably are not going to persuade those opposed to fracking to lower their shields and discuss the fog of information related to this subject in our industry. At the same time arguments are made that corporate and special interest groups display the same tightly closed rank vision and are not interested in releasing any ground to additional “infringement” in an already very stringent Illinois regulatory prerequisite.
So where does the landowner look for an honest informed opinion when deciding to lease land to this budding industry? Certainly, the Internet is a great wealth of information but it is awash with evident scientific articles with groups of stakeholders being accused of marshaling to support their point of view. Trusted neighbors, on each side of the landowner may have polar opposite opinions that could further blur the landowner’s quest. An equally tight spot is where do we, as acquisition agents, fit in with our attempt to impartially share all the industry nuances that will surely come to bear once negotiations begin.
The bottom line is Illinois has always been a significant producer of American energy resources with coal and crude oil production. Perhaps the fog of opinion and blanket mistrust is not as prevalent with today’s mass information age as it was in the early pioneer days. The good news for us is, science has made great strides since the early energy lease procurement days began. The Federal and State regulatory agencies provide oversight of environmental impacts. The Illinois General Assembly passed the Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Act in June of 2013 as one of the most stringent regulatory measures compared to other area states. And to date, continues to hold inquiries before production begins in line with rigorous oversight.
Therefore, as IRWA members, our opinions may vary but we should all expect that as gatekeepers involved in obtaining oil and gas leases we would be greatly served by being cognizant of the divisions within this industry and to the best of our abilities take the effort to educate ourselves on all the potential environmental talking points possible.
Below are a couple of links that breaks down the regulatory measures of the law passed and another link regarding property rights: