North Carolina Department of Justice
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Homeowners need fracking protections now, AG Cooper urges

Release date: 6/13/2012

Key consumer protections pushed by Cooper among strongest in the nation

Raleigh:  Legislation that would give North Carolina homeowners some of the strongest legal protections in the country related to fracking could be voted on by the North Carolina House today.
 
“Homeowners need these legal protections if North Carolina is going to move forward with fracking,” Cooper said. “Speculators are already knocking on doors, pressing people to sign leases, so we need to put these protections in place now.”
 
Cooper’s Consumer Protection Division studied legal and consumer protection issues relevant to fracking, including impacts on landowners, ownership of oil and gas rights, and existing legal protections. A report issued by the Attorney General in May recommended many legislative changes, most of which are included in Senate Bill 820.
 
The legislation, which would authorize shale gas extraction, also known as fracking, in North Carolina, was approved last week by the North Carolina Senate. 
 
The latest version of Senate Bill 820 put forward by the House Committee on the Environment adds to the bill three more key consumer protections that Cooper’s office found to be absolutely critical:
 
  • Written disclosures for consumers that the lease could impact their mortgage.
Leases would be required to contain a conspicuous disclosure to warn homeowners that entering into a lease for fracking could violate their mortgage and to encourage them to contact their lender for approval. North Carolina would be the first state in the nation to provide such disclosure.
 
  • Mandatory cooling off period for landowners who sign a lease.
To combat high-pressure sales tactics, landowners would get three days to cancel their lease without penalty if they decide to cancel after further examination. This would make North Carolina one of only two states in the nation to offer homeowners such protection.
 
  • Prompt payment for landowners.
Any bonus or upfront payments to landowners for oil and gas leases would be required to be made within 60 days, or landowners can cancel. This would be the strongest such protection available in the country.
 
The bill could be voted on by the full House as soon as today. It would then return to the Senate for concurrence.



Media contact:  Noelle Talley (919) 716-6413