Enviro Attorney Protects Landowners from Fracking Royalties Fraud

When landowners have natural gas or oil on their property, chances are they may get underpaid for their mineral rights royalties. At least that’s what the website, mineralroyaltiesfraud.com states. The website is the creation of Environmental Attorney Stuart Smith of the New Orleans-based law firm, Smith Stag LLC. Smith launched the website to protect landowners. The website contains a frequently asked questions page, an online form for landowners to obtain a free case evaluation, and links to articles about cases.

When it comes to mineral rights royalties, the website specifically states that landowners “are often grossly underpaid because large oil and gas companies fail to follow the law, resulting in win-lose relationships where the property owner loses money or revenue.” Landowners, according to the website, often accept being underpaid because of a “perception that disputes with large oil and gas companies are complex and difficult to settle because of the huge disparity in financial and legal resources available to the plaintiffs and defendants in these cases.”

Smith hopes to set landowners straight with his website, which even lists three factors that may means a landowner has a valid claim for lost revenues:

  • They are a who feels that they are being underpaid or cheated by an oil or gas company extracting natural resources on their property
  • They no longer receive royalty’s payments like they did in the past or payments lapsed and restarted later
  • They are an investor in oil and gas exploration and extraction activities and feel they have lost money

Smith thinks the problem is serious because of the “current fracking boom.” His firm hears more and more complaints from property owners “that oil and gas companies are underpaying for the amount of oil or gas extracted, or drilling underneath their land from a property next door or nearby, without obtaining the rights.”

“There are stories about mineral royalties fraud almost every day,” said Smith. “With all the well-deserved publicity that America’s frackapalooza has brought to unsafe environmental practices that poisoned the water or fouled the air, mineral royalties fraud shouldn’t be ignored as a concurrent story. Making sure energy giants pay their fair share and follow the law requires constant monitoring.”

New York Attorney General reaches an agreement with a gas company over mineral rights

A recent settlement between New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and a subsidiary of Chesapeake Energy Corp. earlier this month highlights the fact that landowners can go up against oil and gas companies and win. Schneiderman reached an agreement with Chesapeake Appalachia LLC for 4,400 New York landowners to obtain better oil and natural gas leases. The agreement pertains to leases that either have expired or would have expired before the end of 2013. Chesapeake leases over 600,000 acres in New York.

“Make no mistake about it, this agreement will provide a safety net for thousands of landowners by allowing them the opportunity to negotiate fairer lease terms, both financial and environmental, regardless of their existing contracts,” Schneiderman said. “For landowners across the state, this deal literally will provide a new lease on life.”

Photo: Flickr user, andyarthur

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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