“It’s a little complicated,” Archer explained. “Basically, under common law, if you own the surface land and someone else owns the minerals, they have the right to come on your land to get to and develop those minerals.”
And in the (rather common) case for those who don’t have the rights to the minerals under their property, Beram said, “Surface owners are being presented with situations where land is being taken for these well pads and they have no choice in it.”
But it’s not only surface owners whose land is being drilled on that are being affected by the nearby drilling, Archer added, “It’s affecting their neighbors and entire communities.”
“The impacts extend beyond the well site,” she said. “In general, it’s had a major impact on the quality of life for people living in areas where there’s heavy Marcellus Shale development.”
Beram, who is one of those residents living in the middle of the development, said there has been a notable increase in heavy truck traffic, in addition to “a lot of” pipelines, compressor stations and well pads going in.
“Our rural community has become an industrial site,” Beram said.
Randy Huffman, cabinet secretary of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, acknowledged that the department has received some complaints about the drilling, but he said that they have been trying to eliminate the issues as they arise.
“We get some citizen complaints,” Huffman said. “There’s a very real impact in the communities.