November 21, 2017

Rush to Drill for Natural Gas Creates Conflicts With Mortgages

By Ian Urbina, New York Times

As natural gas drilling has spread across the country, energy industry representatives have sat down at kitchen tables in states like Texas, Pennsylvania and New York to offer homeowners leases that give companies the right to drill on their land.

And over the past 10 years, as natural gas has become increasingly important to the nation’s energy future, Americans have signed more than a million of these leases.

But bankers and real estate executives, especially in New York, are starting to pay closer attention to the fine print and are raising provocative questions, such as: What happens if they lend money for a piece of land that ends up storing the equivalent of an Olympic-size swimming pool filled with toxic wastewater from drilling?

Fearful of just such a possibility, some banks have become reluctant to grant mortgages on properties leased for gas drilling. At least eight local or national banks do not typically issue mortgages on such properties, lenders say.

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