By Deborah Goonan
Did you know that when you purchase a home — either new construction or resale — you might not own the rights to mineral resources beneath that home? If not, then you must take the time to read Reuters 2013 Special Report: US Builders hoard mineral rights under new homes, linked below.(1)
It may seem unbelievable, and might never have crossed your mind, that the builder of your home would write into the deed and sale agreement that mineral rights would not convey to the homeowner. What this means is that if there should be oil, gas, gold, or any other valuable resource lurking in the soil beneath your home, you would have NO rights to compensation for withdrawal of those resources. In fact, whoever holds those mineral rights — be it the developer or an energy company that has acquired those rights from the Developer — has the legal right to drill under your property and take those minerals, whether you like it or not. And because you don’t own these rights, you won’t be making any money on the deal, even though you’ll assume all the risks involved during the drilling or “fracking” process that is sweeping across the country.
And quite often, the developer does not openly disclose that the buyer gives up property rights, including mineral rights. Most buyers find out either at closing or thereafter. The fact that most new construction is part of a homeowners’ association makes it easy for the builders to bundle these mineral rights and then lease or sell them to a third party, often without the homeowners’ knowledge or explicit consent.
Below, you can follow links to two June 2015 reports on fracking: one from the EPA concluding that contamination of water supplies is “isolated,” (2) and another news release from the University of Pittsburgh, citing a study of the correlation between proximity of pregnant women to fracking activity and lower birth weights of their babies (3). But there are literally hundreds of news reports, and dozens of studies have been done on the subject. The oil and gas industry and the EPA tend to downplay the risks, while environmental activists tend to play up exposure to human health risks as a result of air, soil, and groundwater pollution.
Preview…read full article at Neighbors at War