Landowners looking for legal options to fight energy companies
As energy companies attempt to extend some oil and gas leases because of New York's hydraulic fracturing moratorium, local law firms are trying to assemble groups of landowners to fight those claims in federal court.
Hundreds of local landowners have received letters from natural gas companies over the past two years claiming "force majeure" on their expiring leases, many of which are a decade old and signed for just a few dollars per acre.
Force majeure, a legal clause in some contracts, allows for the lease to be extended if an unforeseen event prevents either side from upholding the terms of the agreement.
One small group of landowners in the Harpursville and Colesville areas moved forward with a federal suit against a force majeure claim last fall, and now some lawyers are trying to expand the legal fight against the industry.
"We have probably 120 families that expressed an interest," said Robert Jones, a lawyer with Coughlin & Gerhart LLP. "Our goal is to commence a lawsuit on their behalf by March 1"....
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