Perry County is located on the western edge of the shale formation that oil and gas companies hope will yield significant oil and/or gas reserves. 'Fracking' or horizontal mining could become an issue in Perry County.
Some landowners have already been approached about leasing land. Both leasing agents, which pool leases and sell them, and oil and gas companies could show an interest in Perry County.
Matt Rush, Agriculture Program Coordinator for Wayne County UIUC Extension, and Laura Harmon, Assistant General Counsel for the Illinois Farm Bureau, offered tips for landowners who may be asked to lease their land for oil and gas production.
Wayne County is the center of the oil kitchen in Illinois. Rush and his colleagues visited Noble and Guernsey Counties in Ohio where oil and gas production are a major industry.
'Fracking' is the name for the process by which companies drill vertically then horizontally and use a mixture of water, sand and chemicals to break up the shale layer in hopes of releasing oil or gas.
Rush said that he is neither for nor against fracking. There are both good and bad aspects to it. Communities stand to make money from increased sales taxes and fees paid to clerks and recorders by people researching mineral rights.
In Noble County, Ohio, the clerk made over $300,000 in copy fees the first year researchers hit town and $700,000 the second year. In Guernsey County, the clerk made over $1.2 million in copy fees in one year.
While the initial phase of a fracking boom brings in funds, municipalities could see increased costs, particularly in road maintenance.
Their advice boils down to two things- first, don't sign anything and second, find a competent attorney to represent you.
Harmon said that there is no uniformity in the leases offered to land owners. Don't sign it without an attorney.
Landowners are asked to bring the leases to their local Farm Bureau, which can put them in touch with attorney.
Harmon also discussed HB2615 which will regulate fracking in Illinois, if passed. The bill addresses water and seismic issues, including flow-back water disposition, setbacks from homes, schools, hospitals and bodies of water, construction, taxes and permitting.
The permit fee in the bill is $13,500. All aspects of fracking would be overseen by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The fee is intended to allow IDNR to hire more people to oversee fracking.
Harmon said the major difference between the proposed Illinois bill and other states are the requirements on casing, which has been deemed the greatest danger.
For more information, visit the Perry County Farm Bureau. Copies of the presentations by Rush and Harmon are available there.
Rush said his colleagues at the Ohio Extension Service hope to hold a seminar in Mount Vernon in May. It is tentative set for May 22 at the Holiday Inn.