Drilling under the dead — “Rest in peace means no lease.”
“. . . [I]n both rural and urban parts of Texas, Pennsylvania and Ohio, . . . drilling for natural gas beneath homes, parks, churches, schools and even cemeteries has become commonplace,” reports the NYT.
Cemetery owners lease their mineral rights to oil and gas companies to allow fracking, earning money that many have used to refurbish and maintain their grounds, fencing, sanctuaries and roads. Cemetery managers and oil and gas company executives said that fracking, because it occurred at roughly 7,000 feet to 8,000 feet below ground, did not damage graves. And because of advances in horizontal drilling, they said, the wells and other equipment can be located more than a mile away to avoid disrupting the serene atmosphere of the cemetery.
No matter how you feel about fracking, disturbing the dead by drilling is distasteful.
If I buried my relative in a cemetery, I would like to think that there was some type of implied warranty that my relative would get to rest in peace, free from any type of drilling beneath them. More than just the drilling aspect, there is something about turning a cemetery into a secondary business without the consent of those that purchase the plots that seems wrong. I wouldn’t want the land to be turned into a wind farm no more than I would want it to be a place for drilling.
At the very least, if a hydraulic fracturing company came along and wanted to extract the natural gas underneath my dearly departed, I would want some compensation (I’m sure my forebears would want it that way). I get that the cemetery owns the mineral rights to the land on which the graves are buried. But if the cemetery promises eternal rest, or sanctuary, then plot owners should get some compensation for not getting exactly that.
Photo Credit: tcd123usa