Last month, a landowner in Madison, N.Y., was surprised when their insurancecompany refused to renew their homeowners policy because there is a conventional gas well
on their property.While the media and environmental gro
ups have focused on shale drilling‟s potential to poison the soil, water, and air, they‟ve largely overlooked its potential to poison the real
“I think we are on the tip of this,” says Steve Hvozdovich, Marcellus Shale coordinator for
Water Action in Pennsylvania. “Whether you are the homeowner trying to get
homeowners insurance or the neighbor [to a fracking site] who is trying to refinance, there
are just so many tentacles to this. I don‟t think people are grasping all the impacts of
Benjamin doesn‟t often hear property owners talk about the issue. “I don‟t think most areconcerned about it,” he says. “But I think they may have to be in the future.”
The first denial
Brian and Amy Smith live across the street from a new gas well in Daisytown in WashingtonCounty, Pa., an hour south of Pittsburgh. Last year, when they applied for a new mortgage ontheir $230,000 home and hobby farm, they were denied.According to ABC affiliate WTAE,this appears to be the first example in westernPennsylvania of a homeowner being denied a mortgage because of gas drilling on a
In an email, Quicken Loans told the Smiths, “Unfortunately, we are unable to move forwardwith this loan. It is located across the street from a gas drilling site.” Two other nationallenders also turned down Brian Smith‟s a
“I think a lot of folks nationally are watching this case,” says Rep. Jared Polis (D
-Colo.), acongressman who represents areas north and west of Denver. He noted that in his home
district fracking leads to a “haircut on a property‟s values.”
“I think it is something that the banks would frankly be smart to look at,” Polis says.
Elisabeth N. Radow, a lawyer and chair of the League of Women Voters of New York State‟sCommittee on Energy, Agriculture and the Environment, says the Smiths‟ story sho
property owners are clearly vulnerable to what happens on their neighbors‟ land in fracking
“A [fracking] gas well brings commercial activity, can pollute drinking water anddevalue the property.”
Radow says it‟s logical that high
-volume horizontal fracturing
an operation in whichmillions of gallons of water mixed with hundreds of chemicals are pumped horizontally intolayers of shale
has lenders worried. “They are trying to protect themselves,” she says.
The Obama administration has so far taken a hands-off approach to regulating fracking, ashave many states, so the banks are trying to figure out how to proceed in uncertain territory.