A meeting was held in Loretto Community Hall in Loretto, PA to discuss Marcellus Shale. Around 500 local people gathered to meet about the money they may be making from Marcellus Shale and the drilling that is taking place.
All who came out are current members of the Loretto Landowners Group – which represent 35,000 acres in Cambria County. The group was organized to negotiate collectively with gas companies for the right to drill natural gas underneath their property. The group is seeking secure deals and more industry friendly terms with less upfront fees and royalties. They believe that negotiating alone would be a bad decision.
“We have to stick together. It’s the strength-in-numbers strategy,” the Loretto group’s lead organizer, Lee Wyland, told his members at the beginning of the two-hour-long meeting. “If we don’t, they will pick us apart one-by-one — there’s no doubt about it.”
They have become a major force in the industry, educating their members, usually resulting in higher payments and more environmental controls for landowners than they would have gotten as individuals. Some have stayed together for the common good of the community and are also benefiting from the lease terms and royalty payments.
While some groups fall apart due to greed or bad leadership, this Cambria County group has stayed strong. Vince Golden has been organizing the group for the last four years. “You’ve got to keep your head cool and keep some perspective,” he said. “But whenever you get humans involved, you’re going to get human reasoning.”
Golden’s golden rule of advice: “Talk to your neighbors. Because the landmen will tell you, ‘Keep this between us. We’ll give you more money than your neighbor.’”