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Four upstate GOP lawmakers want to clarify Pa. royalty law after deductions

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Four Republicans in the state House have been working on legislation designed to clarify the law on gas drilling royalties in Pennsylvania after reports that landowners are getting lower checks than they expected, with certain costs deducted away.

A nearly 35-year-old law assures at least a one-eighth royalty payment for oil, natural gas or gas of any other designation, according to a news release about the effort.

But some owners who thought they'd get an eighth of the value of the natural gas from their land have gotten reduced checks because of, in words attributed to state Rep. Garth Everett, "a gas company's accounting magic," according to the release.

The matter was the subject of a state Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee hearing last month where the head of a national group said he's not seeing elsewhere the types of deductions occurring in the commonwealth.

Everett, R-Lycoming County; state Rep. Matthew Baker, R-Bradford and Tioga counties; state Rep. Sandra Major, R-Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties; and state Rep. Tina Pickett, R-Bradford, Sullivan and Susquehanna counties, are part of the effort.

The legislation would clarify that deducting post-production costs from unconventional wells cannot result in royalty payments less than the guaranteed minimum, according to the release.

In addition, a bill requiring transparency for deductions from royalty payments unanimously passed the state House last month.

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