Ohio Fracking Memo Endorses Deception in Soliciting LeasesAug 8, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP
The discovery of a mysterious memo has added a new wrinkle to the fracking debate in Ohio. The memo, which was discovered in the driveway of a Greene County resident, appears to direct natural gas and oil drilling industry landmen to mislead property owners in order to induce them to sign a lease that would allow hydraulic fracturing on their property.
The memo is entitled “Talking Points for Selling Oil and Gas Lease Rights” and is marked “Proprietary — Do Not Disclose.” Among other things, the memo directs the reader to avoid mention of water contamination, radioactivity, and loss of property value in their discussion with landowners.
The big mystery is the author of the memo. West Bay Exploration Co., the only driller soliciting for leases in Greene County, denies the memo belongs to it or the landman it has working the area. The Ohio Attorney General has been unable to find evidence it belonged to West Bay, or that the memo was used to mislead landowners, the Courier-Journal said.
Environmentalists are pointing the finger at natural gas drillers, possibly a rival to West Bay. The industry has even charged the memo could be a fabrication by fracking opponents who want to discredit natural gas and oil drilling.
Green County is located in Ohio's Utica and Marcellus shale regions. So far, according to the Courier-Journal, no Greene County residents have signed leases with West Bay or any other energy company.