Gardendale Man Takes On Berry Petroleum, Could Change Drilling Rules In Texas 10/26/12
CBS 7 News Reporter
October 26, 2012
GARDENDALE, TX - A lawsuit between Berry Petroleum and a member of the Gardendale Accountability Project could change the rules of oil drilling here in Texas. GARDAP member Shane Leverett says big oil has gone to far.
"They want to drill 20 acre spacing in my land. If you live in town you really don't realize how close this," said Leverett.
Now he is sueing the large oil company and trying to put a stop on the "excessive” drilling he says is happening on his property. Recently 3 other Gardendale land owners have decided to join in on the lawsuit.
"This is so invasive and when u have this many wells not only on my... The 5 or 6 is my property ... Bu every 20 acres there's going to be another well as far as you can see, " said Leverett.
According to Texas law, a mineral owner only has rights to reasonability extract oil. It's a mandate that Leverett and his lawyer claim Berry Petroleum is not doing.
"Texas law says that the oil company can only use a reasonable amount of surface to extract oil and gas but they can't use an excessive amount. What GARDAP is saying, and we believe it’s true, is that basically Berry [Petroleum] and other oil companies are basically taking the entire surface without paying for it. They are coming to a point where a person can not live in their house, can’t use their property in a residential manner'” said Attorney Steve Hershberger.
Hershberger says whether the plaintiff wins or looses, this lawsuit could determine the boundaries that big oil has when it comes to working on residential property in Texas.
Leverett says this decision will affect him, his grandchildren and the freedom they have enjoy their property.
"It will set a precedent. This isn't just about me. We're concerned about the mentality of the oil production in Texas. We want to be off of foreign oil and we want to produce. We want to have a healthy industry,” stated Leverett.
CBS 7 asked for a statement from Berry petroleum on the lawsuit. They stated that due to pending litigation they will not comment.