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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: June 5, 2019 10:37 AM
From: Representative Joe Webster
To: All House members
Subject: Establishing Plain Language in Oil and Gas Land Contracts

I recently became aware that our constituents are involved in numerous legal disputes over oil and gas land contracts. Sometimes the dispute involves a real property contract which a deceased family member entered with a company. Sometimes the dispute reveals that the landowner and natural gas company do not have the same contract on file. Or, the two parties have completely different understandings about specific details, the duration of the lease, who has authority over term extensions, etc.

These contracts are often numerous pages in length and filled with many industry-specific terms. I am sure many of you have had constituents contact your office with similar stories of confusing and misleading contracts. I’ve even spoken with an appellate court judge who said her docket included many of these cases.

It is time for us to help families in Pennsylvania by establishing the Plain Language in Oil and Gas Real Property Contracts Act. Under the proposed legislation, these contracts would now have to pass a test of readability making them easy to read and understand. The Act would also require that industry-specific terms are defined so a landowner knows what each term means and how it can affect them. And, the legislation would also add a degree of protection by requiring the landowner to sign the contract in the presence of a notary public (not currently required) and require both parties to receive a notarized copy for their records.

I ask that you support this legislation and join me in improving protections for Pennsylvania families who are entering into a land rights contract.

Introduced as HB1875