Pennsylvania governor signs bill increasing transparency over gas leases


Camp Hill, Pa. – Pennsylvania Farm Bureau supported legislation requiring gas well operators to be more accountable to surface landowners and gas well leaseholders concerning the termination or expiration of a lease agreement has been signed into law by Governor Corbett, along with two other Farm Bureau supported bills.

Gas well leases

House Bill 402 addresses issues of accountability of gas well operators to surface landowners and gas well leaseholders by requiring the owner of subsurface rights under a gas or oil lease to file a notice of termination or satisfaction of a lease with county recording offices within 30 days of the date the lease ends.

“Landowners and leaseholders have the right to know, in a timely manner, when their contracts expire, so they have the option to re-negotiate a new deal, or are informed when they are free to engage in lease negotiations with other gas development companies,” said PFB President Carl T. Shaffer.

Lease terms

Farm Bureau notes that many landowners who entered into gas leases have become legitimately concerned over recent practices and administrative positions taken by gas developers in the course of their interpretation of lease terms.

“We believe the new law will provide greater confidence among landowners that lease obligations will be managed responsibly and enable a more positive relationship between landowner and developer,” said Shaffer.

Agricultural building exemption

The Governor also signed House Bill 1440, which will clarify the state building code to clearly recognize that buildings used for planting and growing of agricultural and horticultural products qualify for the code’s “agricultural building” exemption from regulation.

“The legislation is simply a common sense extension of the exemption already existing in the state building code.  The code currently exempts farm structures that store farm products.  In fact, many municipal code enforcers are already interpreting the code’s ‘agricultural building’ exemption to include structures used in seeding and growing these products as well,” said PFB President Carl T. Shaffer.  “The new law will ensure the exemption is uniformly applied statewide to greenhouses and other structures that farmers may use to lengthen their growing seasons in production of vegetables, fruits and other horticultural products.”

CDL requirements

Meanwhile, the governor inked House Bill 2092, which provides Commercial Driver License (CDL) exemptions for drivers of farm trucks.

Specifically, the legislation codifies in the state vehicle code the farm driver exemption from CDL provided in federal transportation legislation enacted under MAP-21.

The bill expressly exempts drivers of trucks with Pennsylvania farm registration plates or farm certificates of exemption from registration from the CDL requirements when the trucks are operated anywhere in Pennsylvania.  The bill also exempts drivers of Pennsylvania farm trucks and of out-of-state trucks designated for restricted farm use from CDL when operated interstate (crossing state lines) within a 150-mile radius of the farm.

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