State Representative John Cavaletto, who represents the local 107th District, hosted a meeting last week in Vandalia to hear about the issues and concerns of local farmers about the access and use of their land by companies who explore, drill and extract oil and gas from under their farmland.
Representative Cavaletto was joined by Brad Carlson, with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Office of Legislation, Mike Mankowski, Director of Oil & Gas for IDNR, and Randy Pollard from Governor Bruce Rauner’s office to discuss the issues farmers have been dealing with concerning the mineral leases that allow companies to drill for and extract natural resources on their farm land.
“I am happy to be able to bring together local farmers and the new leadership at the Department of Natural Resources to work through finding a solution between the people who grow our food and those who harvest our natural resources,” said Rep. Cavaletto. “There is a way for both farmers and energy companies to co-exist using the same land. It’s being done all over Illinois and we can make sure it happens here in the 107th District as well,” Cavaletto added.
The group of landowners is talking about forming a coalition that will meet quarterly. They want to join together to document their concerns for DNR which include: access to their land, cleaning up oil spills and/or saltwater contaminated land, taking care of uncapped wells, removing abandoned pump jacks, and repairing leaking tanks.
Many of the oil & gas leases for these properties date back to the 1940’s when the oil boom hit the south central area of Illinois. The leases for the right to drill and extract oil and gas have changed hands over the years and research needs to be conducted to clarify who owns the leases and who is responsible for clean-up.
“These issues date back many years and we appreciate Rep. Cavaletto bringing us together to help move this process forward to ensure that DNR regulations are followed and landowners’ concerns are addressed. Anyone with questions may contact either our Springfield Oil & Gas Office at 217-782-7756 or Centralia Oil & Gas Office at 618-533-8979,” said IDNR Director Wayne Rosenthal.