Local
5:00 am
Thu May 3, 2012

Greater consumer protections needed if fracking comes to North Carolina

As state lawmakers consider whether to allow drilling for natural gas – or fracking -- in North Carolina, Attorney General Roy Cooper has been looking into consumer protection issues surrounding the practice. 

WHQR’s Rachel Lewis Hilburn reports on what property owners need to know when making deals with oil and gas companies. 

Landowners and homebuyers need additional legal protections if North Carolina is going to pursue fracking.  That’s according to a new report by Attorney General Roy Cooper.  Cooper says potential buyers of real estate should ask the seller to disclose – in writing -- details about mineral rights to the property.  But current landowners thinking about leasing their property to gas companies are also at risk, says Cooper.

“It’s critically important that when someone leases their mineral rights, that they know about the fact that their mortgage could be impaired in some way.  We’ve suggested to the General Assembly that the person who’s buying the mineral rights – the company buying the rights – should be responsible for contacting the mortgage holder to make sure that this is okay and that they have permission.”

Cooper says he’s also recommending the General Assembly require a 30-day cooling-off period after a deal is signed.  This would give the property owner the chance to back out with no penalty.