You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Saline Township couple relinquishes mineral rights after battling oil company

By Amy Biolchini

For the past three years, Lorie Armbruster, 59, of Saline Township has said no to an oil company — Paxton Resources LLC — as it's tried time after time to get her to sign a lease for the mineral rights to her property.

Armbruster’s country home on 20 acres of property off Braun Road has been her pride and joy for the past 30 years while she has lived there with her husband, Mike Armbruster, 62.

As an increasing number of oil wells have been drilled in Saline and Lodi townships by the Gaylord-based company, the pump jacks and the natural gas flares that accompany oil production have become a new crop in farmers’ fields. Some are hidden far behind stands of trees; others are clearly visible from the road.

Though her neighbors agreed to sign leases with Paxton — which resulted in an oil well directly across the street from Armbruster’s house — Armbruster remained staunch in her position to reject the company’s request for the rights to her own property.

That was until this summer, when the company took steps under state law to get access to the oil on her property without her consent.

Compulsory pooling

Though it was a heartbreaking decision, Armbruster said she felt she had no choice: Paxton was moving forward with a state hearing that could put her property against her will into the drilling unit.

In Armbruster’s case, the oil well was not slated for her property but her land was within the designated 80-acre drilling unit.

Her property was the last outstanding piece of the puzzle for Paxton to complete its 80-acre drilling unit for a new oil well, said Greg Vadnais Jr., land leasing agent for Paxton. The three other landowners in the unit had already signed lease agreements, Vadnais said, noting he’s been trying to contact the family for three years.

The Armbrusters' property accounts for a significant portion of the drilling unit, Vadnais said.

A drilling unit is a designated tract of land around an oil well that’s legally bound by land-lease agreements an oil company must obtain before drilling. It was designed to give all property owners immediately adjacent to the well their fair share of the proceeds from the sale of the oil - as oil formations don’t follow man-made boundary lines.

Compulsory pooling was initially created by the state to prevent too many oil wells from being drilled, as competition was fierce among neighbors in Michigan’s early oil boom to profit from wells on their property.

Compulsory pooling also protects a property owner from having oil and gas drained from the underground portion of his or her property without being compensated for it.

“There are people who have signed a lease that want their minerals developed,” said Jennifer Faragan, permit coordinator and geologist for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Oil, Gas, and Minerals. “(Compulsory pooling) is there to make sure the minerals are developed … and to protect the rights of the people not signing the lease.”

However, the process effectively combines the mineral rights of a property owner who refuses to lease his or her land with the other complying property owners in the drilling unit — as was potentially the case with Armbruster.

“We figured no means no, if it’s your property,” Armbruster said. “As it turns out, in the long run, this was what got us — when Paxton got their attorneys involved … you’re involved in this hearing, and you’re like, ‘What is this?’”

The compulsory pooling process, in Armbruster’s case, was initiated by Paxton with the DEQ.

Armbruster said she didn’t know the process had even started until she received a letter from the DEQ stating that the first hearing regarding her property had been adjourned from the proceeding because Paxton forgot to list her as a party in the case.

In unfamiliar territory and with her property at stake, Armbruster sought a lawyer and postponed the hearing. Public notice of upcoming hearings is posted only on this DEQ website.

Compulsory pooling hearings are conducted by the DEQ and presided over, typically, by the assistant supervisor of wells, Hal Fitch. After hearing testimony from the oil company, geologists and parties identified in the case, Fitch and his staff members discuss the issue and then later issue orders.

“The decision would be at a later date,” said Susan Maul, hearing coordinator for the DEQ. “We’d get the transcript afterwards and collect any exhibits, and then we’d sit down afterwards and discuss it. … Fitch is the decision-maker, though he takes into consideration staff opinion.”

Should a party be pooled into the drilling unit, he or she is considered a “working interest owner” and receives one-eighth of the royalty from the oil well’s production, Faragan said. Private contract negotiations typically result in one-eighth of the royalties for property owners as well, Faragan said.

However, there are costs that would be levied on the compulsory pooled party — including an option to pay an estimated share of the drilling costs up front, or to allow a penalty to be taken out of the royalty for the risks associated with drilling, Faragan said.

Rather than leave the fate of her property rights up to the state to negotiate, Armbruster was able to negotiate a non-developmental land lease agreement with Paxton with the guidance of a lawyer. The lease states that Paxton cannot use any part of Armbruster’s land.

Armbruster said it wasn’t what she and her husband wanted — but she felt she had no other choice.

“We felt helpless,” Armbruster said. “We felt that was the only way we could protect this property.”

Changing landscape

Armbruster said she’s watched her rural Braun Road community change as oil wells have been drilled.

View Paxton Resources LLC oil wells in Washtenaw County in a larger map
“We’re all friends; that’s the thing,” Armbruster said, explaining there’s no hard feelings between Braun Road neighbors in the midst of all the Paxton land leasing. “We’ve all depended on each other.”

With horse pastures, a hay field, a garden and woods on her own property, Armbruster said she enjoyed the farm smells and activities nearby. Cow manure doesn’t bother her, she said, and the rumble of tractors and farm equipment was a comforting sound.

The addition of drilling rigs — 24-7 operations for about a month to install a new oil well across the street — and the associated large trucks carrying gravel for new roads — have turned her agricultural haven into an industrial site, Armbruster said.

A flare installed at the oil well across the street to burn off natural gas that can’t be captured from the well has also proved to be the biggest nuisance, she said. The smell of gas burning wafts into her home if the wind is blowing from the southwest —causing her to shut her windows and stay indoors.

“It’s farmland and their property and they were allowed to do whatever they wanted to it,” Armbruster said of her neighbors. “And we were very good friends with them so I didn’t say anything … I didn’t complain and once the flare started I still didn’t want to complain — but we’ve been suffering and other neighbors too — and it’s like, what can you do? It’s there; it’s there legally.”

In addition to the gases being released through the flare, Armbruster said she’s concerned for the future safety of her water well in her front yard should drilling activities or spills from crude oil transportation contaminate it.

An opposition group to Paxton’s activities sprung up in 2011. Lodi Township resident Mitch Rohde, founder of the NoPaxton group, said his team continues to receive calls and emails from landowners about ongoing oil and gas operations in Saline and Lodi townships.

“These citizens do not appreciate the toxic gases that they are exposed to from nearby wells and flares, and they do not appreciate the uncertainty in their drinking water,” Rohde said. “Many folks in this area are adamant that they do not want development near them but are discouraged because Michigan law (and the MDEQ) serves mainly the interests of the oil companies and doesn't provide sufficient protections for homeowners. Paxton Resources in particular have most certainly not improved their image by intimidating homeowners into signing leases using legal ‘compulsory pooling’ actions.”

Paxton officials have stated the smell from the flares is minimal, and that the flares are necessary to burn off the natural gas because there's no pipeline infrastructure in place to extract it from the well.

The company also contends that ground water aquifers are far above the oil formations in the areas that they're drilling — putting the water supply at low risk for contamination.


Paxton’s oil play into the Trenton-Black River formation, of which Saline and Lodi townships are a part, has skyrocketed this year as eight permits for new wells have been filed with the state since January.

In 2012, state records show Paxton netted 123,568 barrels of crude oil from eight Saline Township wells — pushing it into the top 10 oil-producing regions in the state, according to Michigan Oil and Gas News. The company still has eight producing oil wells in Washtenaw County.

Screen shot 2013-07-10 at 5.07.27 PM.png

Paxton Resources production of crude oil, in barrels, by year from its Washtenaw County wells based on information from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's Oil and Gas Database.

Paxton has been drilling its wells about 3,000 feet down into the Trenton-Black River formation and then drilling horizontally or directionally to tap into pockets of oil previously inaccessible.

The company stated a year ago at public meetings that it was not employing the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing to obtain its oil, and to date has not applied for a permit to do such work.

The prospects in the Saline and Lodi township areas have meant Paxton is concentrating most of its operations here, and has rented out a house in the area to serve as a base. The company has contracts with 20 to 30 companies for different aspects of the drilling work and typically employs about 40 to 50 people directly, Paxton officials said.

For Armbruster, the oil business that’s entered into her rural neighborhood came at an inopportune time.

Armbruster has been consumed with medical appointments for the past six months to fight a cancer diagnosis that came in December. Right as her radiation treatments began, she received a notice from the state regarding the compulsory pooling process.

“I did this with cancer: I researched everything so I knew what to expect what to ask, I even got a second opinion. I went from that fight, that struggle — all that research all that turmoil and finally reaching the right surgeon, the right hospital — got through that surgery and the healing and all that process and then this started,” Armbruster said. “I can fight cancer with radiation and all the surgeries, but I can’t seem to fight the oil companies or the state to leave us alone.”

Video: A Paxton oil well in the drilling stage at the corner of Goodrich and Arkona roads in Saline Township.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Sun, Jul 14, 2013 : 7:08 p.m.

Thanks, Amy. Not only has business taken over our local and state government but they've also taken over our news media. I was clueless about this whole oil and gas leasing thing until we got a certified letter from the Bureau of Land Management saying that the mineral rights under our property would be put up for auction. Canada has been facing this for a few years and so have New York and Pennsylvania but here I sit like a dolt having no clue this wave of gas development was heading toward our property. Get ready, Michigan. The gas and oil interests are very savvy on how to push their interests. I was so weirded out to find that 3 separate articles lambasting the industrial wind farms along the Lake Michigan shoreline for creating an eyesore and degrading our beautiful landscape were written by pro-gas/oil interest groups. After you read the website of the organizations they represent, it's clear that their objection to the wind mill farms is NOT for the environmental impacts but because of the unfair government subsidy to one form of energy production; renewable energy. Their are so many wolves in sheep clothing out there saying that there's no evidence of negative impacts from oil/gas extraction, it gives me the creeps!


Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 4:08 p.m.

So let me get this straight. UM can do what they want and so can the oil people? What next government telling us we can't drive without subsidies? This is so totally not right. I feel like the government has more rights then we do and so do these companies. Whatever happened to the constitutional rights to free speech and the right not to someone come in and tell you what you can and cannot do with your property. Scary. Say no to fracking. Because it is too close to the Great Lakes.

Rita Mitchell

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 7:23 p.m.

Take a look at what has happened in Pennsylvania, and remember that Saline is right here at home:


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 5:22 p.m.

I don't want Saline to become like Dimick, PA or Dish, TX or the countless other places that have ruined aquafiers forever...

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 11:51 p.m.

There is a good chance this gas will be shipped overseas to asia. Gas prices are low right now. It is not a good time to sell. If you have property with gas, it would be much better to wait until prices go up. Maybe the gas will even be used here, in Michigan. "Gee, why did we sell all our gas so cheap to China? Now there's none left."


Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 4:09 p.m.

We are in so much hock with China? I don't even think we are selling it. More like bartering.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 10:41 p.m.

Absolutely appalling. Even after you succeed in paying off your 30+ yr mortgage, "your" land is never truly yours..Disgusting abuse of government and power. All for the almighty buck.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 9:52 p.m.

It's pretty interesting to see all the w.a.guesses here made without any attempt to validate their statements. Perhaps its just hubris, perhaps it is some whitewashing going on. Outfieldjoe, for one, if you have a way to -extract from one single well an enormous percentage of the entire counties oil production (2009 values are available online)-- the oil companies want to hear from you. Also picking out outfieldjoe's statements about earnings form that same single well: again my good chap, if you have a means to obtain all that content as 100% profits with no expenses, the oil companies wish to hear from you. IF you have a means to negotiate that payment rate with the oil companies- landowners and their lawyers ALSO want to hear from you. Fortunately Joe- you can deduct those same dollar amounts form your 2013 taxes as opportunity cost. If you'd known, _you_ could have brought this property back in the day and made all that money. Since you did not, that's called opportunity cost, and trust me, you can deduct it from your taxes this year.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 9:18 p.m.

Amy Biolchini, another great article! Thank you and widely shared.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 7:06 p.m.

Excellent informative reporting ! Gotta love the Koch mouthpieces, though. No, the Republican DEQ is not working in the best interest of the landowner here. If I own land with mineral rights and want to save my investment for the next generations or let it sit to protect their future environment and climate, then in every American sense of resident that should be my inalienable right. If Paxton knows there is a "lake" of oil or a "cloud" of gas under specific property owners land, then they probably have a very good idea of how big that lake or cloud is. That also means that they can extract only the State-approved share of the "lake" or "cloud" while leaving the rest for those who don't want their rightfully owned share of minerals touched.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 10:46 p.m.

THanks for the corrections. The bosses usually set the Government Departments including MI DEQ. Like down grading PALL GELMAN toxicity levels as soon as Snyder took office.. You are right. Democrats are no better. Oil and gas volume prediction is far more advanced today than when the law was made. You can bet it is an "exact science" when billionaire's pocketbooks depend upon those numbers. Once operational. flow rate will verify the original estimates. Saudia Arabian oil flow rate is a closely held top secret - probably because they are running out of oil. Once leaked, people will know how much oil is left to pump. The DEQ could easily obtain the same estimate and flow numbers used by the companies. Then reserve or divide up the spoils as requested by the land holders owning the rights. I agree with the idea of limiting property sunshine stealers, and boundary-crossing "externality" dumpers. Coastal communities with a view are in fact very heavily regulated for the points of value that you have raised. Michigan is a little slow in servicing their beach bum billionaires.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 9:34 p.m.

Of course, you do know that the "Republican DEQ" is composed of almost all the same people who were part of the "Democratic DEQ" under Granholm, except for some top administrators. If you are aware that the Republican administration and the DEQ is ignoring current Michigan environmental laws and regulations, please enlighten us. Assumptions do not make facts. As for your proposed solution, it's unworkable. No one knows the total yield of an oil well until it, um, yields. Oil drilling and production is not an exact science. Do you really want to depend on an oil company's estimate of a well's yield for landowner's compensation? Gee, I can't see how that could go wrong. What's more, it doesn't solve Ms. Armbruster's real problem. She still has an oil well on neighboring property, and she doesn't like it. Your solution just reduces the timespan during which she will have to tolerate the well. If the well produces for a long time, your solution does nothing to help her, because she will be long gone before the well is abandoned. One change to the law to help Ms. Armbruster would be to require the well operator to conceal the oil well from surrounding properties. Current Michigan law already protects Ms. Armbruster from nuisance odors. However, occasional whiffs do not make a nuisance odor. Ask anyone who lives near the City of Ann Arbor Wastewater Treatment Plant what occasional bad odors are like; although its hard to get past the gates of multi-million dollar estates. Yep, occasional bad odors just kill property values.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 6:52 p.m.

It's an interesting problem. You don't own the airspace above your land, either (except under some nominal height close to your roof). How far down should you "own"? I would say that anything that threatens your water well might be a good rule, but as others have noted - both the oil and water are in the form of lakes that span across property lines. The existing law, while biased towards oil companies (because you have to follow the money), is actually better than nothing. However, I think at least one improvement could be made: The oil company should be *required* to monitor water quality. Similarly with any other potential environmental damage (for example, does fracking really cause earthquakes? and could there be some sort of monitoring of the 'structural' damage being done?). As for the smell, Call Sam. Yes, I'm serious. Suing is the only way to get anybody's attention.

Chase Ingersoll

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 6:51 p.m.

Property Law allows the holder of the rights to pull the minerals from the ground. Nuisance Law (air, light, sound) may limit them from putting any smells into the air and spilling any oil into the ground water. Why don't all of the land owners use the money that they are getting for the mineral rights and threaten to litigate if they don't find a cleaner way to burn off the gas and implement the best measures to prevent oil spillage and noise. I can't believe they can just waste the natural gas.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 6:48 p.m.

This is the kind of "stuff" that makes people want to start shooting. Just saying.

Usual Suspect

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 1:19 p.m.

My feelings about property rights are very strong. But I don't have the urge to start shooting people.

Basic Bob

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 3:05 a.m.

That explains the heroin epidemic.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 11:42 p.m.

I guess I have stronger feelings about individual property rights than you,big oil or .gov does.

Usual Suspect

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 11:32 p.m.

I hadn't had that response to it.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 6:07 p.m.

But UM with eminent domain takeovers isn't any worse?


Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 4:11 p.m.

I have to agree with this one. Because I am thinking the same thing. Blimpy lost out to UM and so did these people to natural gas rights. What next? We can't breathe air because the FDA says they own it? Sucks.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 12:08 a.m.

Uhhh, no.

Tim Hornton

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 5:55 p.m.

Bad article! How much money will this "poor" hope to make and the other residents? I'm sure money would be nice for her since she is sick. If only this article mentioned the amount.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 6:56 p.m.

And that's exactly the point. She was willing to forego the money in return for a peaceful, clean local environment. This industry, by design and approach, pits neighbor against neighbor and allows a few to reap benefits while adversely affecting the many.

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 5:17 p.m.

Yet another example of how big energy companies get corporate welfare - by force, if necessary.

Rick Stevens

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 5:09 p.m.

Let's be real here -- big money and big corporations control our country and our destiny. This is just one more example. Our legislatures and courts are dedicated to supporting the wealthy and corporations first and the rest of us a distant second. Just look around: our Supreme Court says they are 'people' and can buy elections and legislators (and have). And if there's an 'accident' at this site you know who will pay for it: us taxpayers. Time for us to take our country back from the corporations and make it work for us and not 'them'.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 4:54 p.m.

Just plain wrong. I'm so sorry for the Armbruster family. I too would hate to breath those fumes and be unable to do anything about it.

Laurie Barrett

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 4:32 p.m.

money is the root of all evil


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 10:55 a.m.

Sorry, it's "the LOVE of money" which is said to be the root of all evil. Not the money. Money is just a way of keeping track of exchanges between people.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 4:13 p.m.

Nothing new here: I Drink Your Milkshake!

Jay Thomas

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 3:54 p.m.

While I don't think anyone should be compelled to allow an oil company on their land, if they drill at an angle from some other willing land owner I don't see the problem. The compulsory part seems to be about compensating them for it.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 4:41 p.m.

There are a lot of serious issues when a private corporation takes something out of a landowner's land without permission. What else could they decide they wanted and take away just because they want it.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 3:51 p.m.

Everyone's moving deck chairs on the Titanic here. Once we burn all the hydrocarbons we've recently discovered, it may well be lights out for life as we've known it.


Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 4:13 p.m.

The Titanic sank long before these people got in Pastons way. Now with Ozone depletion? We are only on this planet for a few minutes before the whole world goes to heck in a hand basket.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

Actually, life as we know it may be the case b4 all the hydrocarbons run out. Let's spend more time and energy on developing alternatives like solar power. The generators may not be beautiful, but they're not as ugly as oil wells and cause no pollution. There are many other things we could do, but won't as long as the oil corporations are making money. Mehtane producing things like manure can be drained into biogas tanks and make natural gas, as well as sterile fertilizer. There are heat pumps. In the past, people made use of passive solar for heat and vents in the roofs for cooling. We eliminated all that with the use of central heating and air conditioning.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 3:42 p.m.

Is the operation across the road from Mrs. Armbruster polluting the air with carcinogens? People here seem concerned with land and underground rights, but what about control over the air that floats in over her home? That ought to be checked. I feel badly for her.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 8:37 p.m.

For the Kids: Your understanding is wrong. While I don't know your source for that bit of disinformation, here is a post on Daily Kos that refutes the claim made by Josh Fox in Gasland II, that there is any such exemption. I refer you to Daily Kos because it is an extreme left-wing website. If you think that Daily Kos and its contributors are secret propagandists for EVIL oil companies, there's no reasoning with you.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 6:40 p.m.

My understanding is that the oil and gas industry is exempt from the clean air and water act - thank you Bush administration. If this is all such a safe process, why do they need exemption?


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 5:13 p.m.

Ever hear of the Clean Air Act? The federal government and state government regulate the release of gases to prevent or reduce scientifically proven risk to human health. But "scientifically proven" is key; an unfounded fear doesn't cut it. If people release a proven carcinogen into the air willy-nilly, they face serious consequences.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 4:56 p.m.

I spoke to a woman who used to lease out her farm land for crops. She quit doing it because she didn't want the pesticides and herbicides drifting over on her property anymore. She gave up the money.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 3:38 p.m.

This is bad, but we all use oil so...


Sun, Jul 14, 2013 : 7:28 p.m.

I"m trying to learn as much as I can about "off the grid" building and energy generation practices. There is so much energy lost in homes due to poor insulation and energy wasting applicances/furnaces/water heaters. But there are building practices and technologies that currently exist that could reduce the energy used by each living unit by 80%. Small scale windmills, solar panels, and geothermal heating/cooling systems could be employed in many new housing developments but there has to be subsidies to encourage decentralized forms of energy production and guess who stands in the way of that? Oil and gas producers. They also try to buy good press by constructing huge windmill farms that are more for show than for making any dent on our use of fossil fuels. THere was a "progressive" movement at the beginning of the last century that have an environmental arm....we need to ignite that (no pun intended) again to decentralize energy production and greatly reduce energy consumption.


Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 4:16 p.m.

nobama is forcing us to buy those expensive electrical cars. Why do you think he keeps pushing gas prices so high. nobama sucks.

Retiree Newcomer

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 3:01 p.m.

This discussion is very important. Pennsylvania has been destroyed in many areas by this drilling and fracking. Water supplies are polluted in fact whole towns have no water and not recourse to have the companies who polluted the aquifers pay for water to be brought in. This is not government control but the rights of people vs big oil and big business. The government is now controlled by big money and the only thing that these corporations are interested in is money. The future and I mean the long term future of the earth does not matter so any pollution which occurs will not bother these companies. Our children and grandchildren will suffer from the toxic pollution and will not have a good future health wise or monetarily. The contracts exempt these companies from liability and make the land owners responsible for spills in the long run. The money paid to the land owners is a fraction of the cost to them in the long run. We need to stop relying on fossil fuels . The exemption of the oil companies from the clean water regulation is a crime. Aquifers will be polluted as will surface water supplies and there will be either an expensive water pipeline or no recourse. Michigan legislators are in the pocket of big business and do not represent the people of the state of Michigan


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 9:30 p.m.

Yep! "Michigan legislators are in the pocket of big business and do not represent the people of the state of Michigan"


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 4:06 p.m.

We are running out of water that can be pumped from one place to another with the destruction of aquifers, pollution of wells and water being drained from the Great Lakes to be sold as bottled water. There are parts of the world where this has already happened. Parts of Mexico no longer have water, because the rivers are drained b4 they reach there to supply the influx of people into desert areas. In Nicaragua, water is rationed by the government to 1 gallon/person per day. This is because rivers have been destroyed by the clear cutting of forested areas, so US corporations can grow more cotton and coffee. Shade grown coffee is much better quality and is grown among fruit trees. Much better ecologically.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 2:51 p.m.

God Bless her !


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 2:39 p.m.

A lot of blind, emotion based mis-information being spread here. I have the same mineral rights. And I have the same situation. Do people think its HER oil, gas, water and gravel? She has played her cards very well in order to benefit from a UofM President's level of income from this. The 80 acre (1/4 section) pool will probably not even be drilled because the wells are already there for draining the 'lake'. All she had to agree on was to let the pool volume under her property be included in the wellhead area. It's very rare for property owners to even have the mineral rights to their land. (Check your deed). It's also unusual for people to still have 20+ acre parcels. Most were sold off in the 1930's when previous oil interests explored the region. On my property, this was a lease, not a sale. So you might ask her how long the release of rights was agreed for. Its usually for 5 or 10 years. 'My' gas is at 12,000 feet and 'my' oil is at 15,000 feet. Anybody worried that I or the neighbors are going to fall in ? Keep in mind that she could alternatively have sold her property to a 'developer' who would then build cheesey 8000 sq-ft houses in a place called 'Wild Horse Estates' or 'Fox Run Bluffs' or 'Frog Canyon' or some other moronic title that typifies the Ann Arbor area. You know, they name the subdivision after all the things they destroyed so you could have your perfect nitrogen choked manicured lawn, your perfectly shaped blue spruces in groups of 3, your side entrance garage (no visible cars are allowed!) and your stupid plastic swing set in the back 'yard'. The property is her 401K. Better to use it as is than to sell it off for another cluster eyesore...


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 3:58 p.m.

I see a lot of blind emotion in your statements. There is nothing to indicate that she has any intention of selling her land off to a developer. The oil wells do smell and cause air pollution.

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 2:39 p.m.

Another item to consider: Mineral rights leases stick with the property even when it is put up for sale. Lorie Armbruster expressed her concern that her property values would be diminished and that she would have trouble selling her home if she chose to move.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 5:58 p.m.

Amy, that's not entirely correct about mineral leases. Future owners would be bound to the lease until it expires, but she could sell her property and still retain the rights to the lease and the income. The right to the income received under the lease would very likely makes her property MORE valuable as long as that right passed to the purchaser. If she sold the property but retained the lease and the income stream, then, yes, the land's value would likely be diminished.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 3:54 p.m.

Not to mention that there will eventually be sinkholes in this area and the oil wells will cause many other problems for people who do not own part of this land.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 2:51 p.m.

I'd buy it if she had negotiated a better deal.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 2:38 p.m.

Lorie Armbruster is not a victim here. She's the one who is causing her neighbors to not receive royalty payments on their mineral rights because of her parsimonious attitude. Her refusal is preventing development of the minerals and compensation to her neighbors. She also is missing the opportunity for fair negotiation of her own mineral rights. Now a state agency will determine her compensation - 12.5%. In the industry, this is LOW, and it's more often a 25% royalty payment. My guess is that her neighbors are receiving 25% from their private negotiations. Incidentally this is big bucks - a well producing 500 BOPD will generate $50,000/day in revenue at $100/BO. Her share will be 20Ac/80Ac x 12.5% royalty = $1,562.50/Day ($570,312.50/year) . It would be double at a 25% royalty. I bet her neighbors are FURIOUS. Her claim of the smell of a flare is suspicious. These flares are small and there is little if any odor. Plus the well is not on her property. It seems that she's a stubborn anti-oil activist who is harming her neighbors. Thank goodness the State can fix this mess.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 8:27 p.m.

fjord, your observation seems correct. Or maybe it's oilfielddan.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 8:16 p.m.

OutfieldDan, take a drive down Braun Road. The smell is obvious.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 4:51 p.m.

Amy: "As a counter-point to your statement that she's "harming her neighbors," one could also argue that her neighbor's agreements to the oil company are harming her quality of life with the addition of oil production to her country neighborhood." I don't think Ms. Armbruster is "harming her neighbors". Neither do I think she has the right to prevent her neighbors from using their land for the legal development of mineral rights. Ms. Armbruster was under the mistaken belief that she could prevent her neighbors from selling their property (i.e. their mineral rights) by withholding her consent. She was wrong; thank goodness she got decent legal advice and negotiated a better deal for herself. Surely as an environmental reporter you are aware that commercially distributed natural gas (methane) is odorless. The odor that people associate with methane is actually added to natural gas so that people can smell it and detect a leak. How is it that gas from an oil well flare, which has not been processed by the gas company, smells just like processed gas? It's possible that the flare releases naturally occurring H2S, hydrogen sulfide, which has a rotten egg smell. Michigan law regulates the release of H2S, See,1607,7-135-3311_4111_4231-9162--,00.html Included in that regulation is a ban on "nuisance odor" that "causes. . . unreasonable interference with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property." If Ms. Armbruster has an odor problem, she has a remedy under current law, but that remedy is not depriving her neighbors of the use of their property.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

More like OutInLeftFieldDan.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 3:51 p.m.

Dan, you seriously need to do a fact check.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 3:48 p.m.

The difference Dan, is that Armbruster was not actively harming anyone by not acting - one cannot create damage to others by maintaining their status quo. You cannot loose what you do not yet have. Her neighbors, arguably, in forcing her to act, did cause her harm by coercion. That point is gigantic - your greed does not make her lack of it wrong.

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

The state is not determining her compensation because Lorie Armbruster did not go through with the compulsory pooling process. After postponing the state hearing several times, Armbruster sought the advice of a lawyer to negotiate a lease on her own terms. She now has a non-developmental land lease with Paxton. The oil well and its corresponding flare is immediately across the street from her property. The flare and well are very close to the road, unlike other Paxton operations that are set back farther behind trees and away from houses. The first time she smelled the flare when it was installed she thought there was a gas leak in the area and called the gas company. I agree that the smell factor is subjective, but she claims it is strong enough that she needs to close her windows if the wind is from the SW direction. As a counter-point to your statement that she's "harming her neighbors," one could also argue that her neighbor's agreements to the oil company are harming her quality of life with the addition of oil production to her country neighborhood.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 2:17 p.m.

So this is sort of emanate domain. This is how the U of M gets some of it's property.


Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 4:18 p.m.

I agree with this 100%. Um gets what it wants. Look at Blimpy. Paxton gets what it wants. Oil. The little people cannot fight the government to save its hide.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 8:24 p.m.

My only point is the U of M gets away with taking what belongs to others almost at will.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 4:25 p.m.

Aborani, How about focusing more on the content rather than playing teacher?


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 3:50 p.m.

No, this is not eminent domain. The state (or UofM) is not taking property for a public purpose. This is more like the dissolution of a "tenancy in common", a piece of property owned jointly by several individuals. Oil is fluid. There is no way to determine where each unit of oil drawn from a well originates. Because of this, Michigan law implies a joint ownership of the mineral rights from an oil well, with the percentage of interest based upon ownership of the 80 acres of land around the well. Assuming that Ms. Armbruster owns 20 acres of the 80 acres around the well, she owns 25% of the oil drawn from that well. If other owners of property surrounding the well want to sell their mineral rights, she can't prevent them from doing it. Instead, Michigan laws provides for compulsory pooling. For example, let's say four people own a building together, but each owns a different share. A owns 50%, B owns 25% and C and D own 12.5%. The building only has value as a whole-- it can't be physically divided among the owners. A, C and D want to sell the building, but B refuses to sign any documents. A, C and D can bring a partition action in circuit court to force the sale of the building. The court will supervise the sale and the distribution to B of B's share of the proceeds, but the court is not "taking" the building. That's what compulsory pooling does.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 2:35 p.m.


Joel Gerring

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 2:13 p.m.

This story is... confusing at best. The tone of the article suggests that the land owner's property rights are being stripped from her unfairly, yet also fully acknowledges that underground oil doesn't follow man made boundaries, that her neighbors have legally negotiated with the company to allow for drilling on their land, that this necessarily means that the oil beneath her property will be pumped (no alternative), that she HAS to be compensated for this, and that this Paxton company can't come on her land. The flares, derricks and holding tanks are already intruding on other people's land, not her's. At that point, not signing over the mineral rights so that you can be compensated for the oil that's underneath your own land is just foolish. The law at issue, from the sound of things, only ensures that when oil underneath an individual's property is going to be pumped from a well on adjacent property, that individual must be compensated. The "signing away of mineral rights" is just a formality to allow that. Without such a law, the oil still gets pumped out from underneath her property, because her neighbors have already signed off on such, and she gets NOTHING. The oil is getting pumped, regardless. This law is a good thing. It ensures that a land owner is compensated in such a circumstance. Spinning this into some kind of "government take over of land" is dubious. The alternative would for the government to set up a rule whereby every individual property owner who has land above an oil reserve must agree to drilling or it can't occur on any of the relevant property. But then, all the folks on here who claim that this is "just another example of government intruding on the lives of citizens" would be making the same argument the other way; claiming that land owners are now being stripped of their ability to legally sell their mineral rights.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 3:44 p.m.

How about I come and siphon the gas out of your car to use for mine. Why should you be compensated?


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

Good points, Joel. But the issue is a bit complicated, no? Why can't we have the right to prevent the minerals from beneath our land from being removed int he first place? It's a major complication that oil wells don't follow property boundaries. If the neighbors have already signed away their rights, allowing companies like paxton to pillage the landscape for profit, then yes, it's good that the Armbrusters get compensated. However until they signed, Paxton could not remove the oil. The question of whether they should be allowed to block the extraction inthe first place is a conversation worth having, IMO.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

this makes me sick to my stomach


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 1:58 p.m.

I guess everyone who is so outraged by this doesn't drive a car or use electricity to run their computer or use any other modern convenience that runs on fossil fuels. I know this will get a lot of down votes but I think we all are somehow responsible for what's happening with respect to big oil and the like.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 9:26 p.m.

Line up to sell your property Walking Joe. I'm sure Paxton is interested in buying or stealing it out from under you.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 6:32 p.m.

A few dozen watts to run a laptop is a lot different than many kilowatts to run A/C or megawatts to drive a car. I look at every aspect of my energy consumption, thank you very much. And accessing the internet to gain knowledge and share opinions can have a net benefit on global energy consumption.

Usual Suspect

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 5:27 p.m.

Ross, I'm assuming that means your computer solar or wind powered?


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 3:42 p.m.

Joe, this is one of the reasons I support mass transportation like buses and trains. Airplanes are a whole different issue. I agree that we are all responsible. We could each reduce our consumption in a multitude of ways. For most people, electric can openers, juicers and such are not a necessity. Those who do use cars could limit their driving by running their errands in a circle all on one day. Most of us would be healthier if we walked to do more of our errands. Limit the number of clothes we buy. If there are clothes in your closet with the tags still on, you have far more than you need.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 3:32 p.m.

I totally agree we are responsible - and it ALL makes me sick


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 2:42 p.m.

You're exactly right, Joe. But some of us work very hard to reduce and limit or consumption of these type of resources, while others consume in reckless abandon. We could collectively reduce our consumption of fossil fuels by nearly 50% just by making a few daily conscious choices and some minor sacrifices.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 1:50 p.m.

I thought thought Michigan was turning into Mississippi, but I was mistaken. It'll be more like Texas.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 7:15 p.m.

Actually, Michigan has had substantial oil drilling for a long time (mostly in the West). What has changed is that there is a lot more of it now because of improvements in drilling technology and the high price.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 4:54 p.m.



Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

I'm waiting for the outrage over the fact that her neighbors pull water from the aquifer under her land. Nobody is forcing Ms. Armbruster to do anything. There is no drilling equipment, pipeline, flare or anything else on her land. Actually, Michigan law protects landowners by forcing the oil company to pay Ms. Armbruster for the oil drawn from the oil well on her neighbor's land, because a well drilled on adjacent land might draw from oil under her own. Before state law required pooling, her neighbors would have kept all the proceeds from an oil well on their property. Ms. Armbruster would still have an oil well in the neighborhood, and receive none of the benefit. Not only does Michigan's compulsory pooling law protect Ms. Armbruster's share of the income from the well on her neighbor's property, it requires the oil company to negotiate with her directly. Alternatively, the law could merely require that she be paid 25% (she owns 20 acres or 25% of an 80 acre lease) of whatever the total lease payment negotiated between her neighbor with the well and Paxton. Pooling protects some landowner's rights. However, pooling does not permit a landowner to prevent a neighbor from legally developing mineral rights on the neighbor's land. If you refuse to negotiate a lease, the neighbor (or the oil company to which the neighbor sold her rights) can begin a compulsory pooling process. It's worth noting that Ms. Armbruster's neighbors draw water from an aquifer that extends under her land, and they don't have to pay her for it. Suppose state law required a landowner's consent before her neighbors could drill water wells that drew from the aquifer. If Ms. Armbruster wanted to keep her neighbors from building a house, all she would have to do is refuse consent to the water well. That's a cheap way of making your twenty acre farm an eighty acre farm. That's in effect what she's trying to do with the oil


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

I am very sorry to hear what happened to the Bursters. The whole scene is beyond discusting. I am 58 years old and I do not believe my grandchildren will be left with a planet they can raise their children on. I grieve the slow death of mother earth every day. Our "modern" society is a cancer on the earth. We are not modern but very backward and display a complete ignorance of how to live here. It is a sad and pitiful shame.

Ann English

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

Liberal ideology is a cancer; the very idea that politicians can regulate everything we do better than we can has infested the universities, "news" media, and entertainment world. We don't have to rely on any of them. The temperate world we live on will last another seven years, if not more, ending with seven years of rule by a world dictator. Then the real Messiah will come back, a subtropical climate will cover the whole planet again, and the earth will stay in that warm condition for another millennium. Only after at least another 1007 years will this planet ceased to exist, and a New Earth will take its place.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

I am 70 and agree with cab55. Sometimes I feel like the old man in Soylent Green. I remember clear lakes and rivers in Michigan you could safely drink from. I remember floating in 6 feet of water in Lake Petoskey and watching my shadow on the bottom. The Monarch butterflys were a beauty to behold. They will probably be extinct within the next 5 years. Yes, I am using my computer, but I would glady give it up if it meant that all that has been destroyed would be restored. It is not necessary to make computers, bags, clothing, etc of plastic. There are natural materials that could be as easily used and likely provide more jobs in the process.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

so cab55, just wondering, what you typed your comment on? Was it a computer made with plastic? (from oil)..did you use electricity? (from coal), do you live in a house? (harvested trees), do you wear cotton fabrics? (picked with steel machinery using oil)...I think you get my point.

Great Lakes Lady

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 1:38 p.m.

You can blame corrupt federal government....both sides of the aisle....


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 1:26 p.m.

Nice picture and tells me a whole story - Holding tanks in a hollow in the bean field with water pooling around the rubber dam. If it is like a roofing material it will be just fine - for 15 years. What a train wreck for a piddling amount of oil. I just can't imagine the Paxton business model.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 1:12 p.m.

I think a lot of people don't understand this. Oil is like an underground lake. If an oil company drills a well on your neighbor's property, they tap that lake, and start drawing oil out. That lake also extends under your property, so the entire lake is being drained by that one well. They don't have to drill on your property or even under your property to take the oil. The state made this law so the oil companies can't drain that lake that is under multiple properties without paying ALL the property owners. They aren't forcing anything on property owners except part of the proceeds. Nothing sinister here. The well across the street and the flare would be there regardless of this law, so the only difference this made was to make sure she gets paid. If you want to see some SERIOUS property rights violations looks at the wetlands regulations and eminent domain abuses. Now that's scary.


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 2:27 p.m.

Amy wrote: "A side effect, whether intended or not intended, is that landowners like the Armbrusters who don't want to deal with the oil company whatsoever can be pushed into taking part in an industry that they oppose." So one co-owner (in this case, the Armbrusters) should be able to prevent other co-owners (their neighbors) from using the co-owned property (developing the mineral rights), because the co-owner has a moral conviction against that use? Let's apply that proposed rule with another fact situation. Let's say that A, B, C and D own a building together. A has sincere moral objections to contraception; B, C and D don't share A's views. Walgreen's offers to buy the building from the four individuals for a tidy profit. However, A knows that Walgreen's sells contraceptives, and refuses to negotiate or sign any contract to sell the building, because A doesn't want to involve himself or herself in the sale of contraceptives. Are you proposing that A should be able to stop B, C and D from selling their interest in the building? That it's somehow unfair or unjust that B, C and D can sell the jointly-owned property to Walgreen's and pay to A his or her share of the proceeds? Or does a co-owners absolute veto and control over jointly owned property only apply when the co-owner's moral convictions are that of an environmentalist?


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 6:47 p.m.

Great explanation ChelseaBob. Given how intertwined everyone becomes with this, it seems a better law might have been to require all affected parties to sign before a well could be drilled. Imagine if all the people involved here lived on a regular, above ground lake and one neighbor decided he was going to begin filling it in. With a law like this, the other neighbors would have to resign themselves to the fact that they will soon no longer live on a lake.

Chase Ingersoll

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 6:46 p.m.

Thank you. Common-Sense-Reads-The-Entire-Article-Chelsea-Bob


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 3:25 p.m.

This IS technically an eminent domain abuse. All of SE MI was wetland area in the past. I remember the beautiful cranes who lived in those "swamps."


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 2:38 p.m.

Excellent summary. Thanks for breaking it down so succinctly.

Amy Biolchini

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 2:36 p.m.

You're correct in your statement regarding the function of the compulsory pooling process. A side effect, whether intended or not intended, is that landowners like the Armbrusters who don't want to deal with the oil company whatsoever can be pushed into taking part in an industry that they oppose.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

Wow, scary to think about, as a landowner. Thankfully my area appears largely ignored by mineral rapists like Paxton, for now. So the Armbrusters were able to negotiate a "non-development" clause with paxton but will still receive royalties? I guess that's good, but I'm sure they spent quite a bit with their lawyer. Great article, Amy. A FOIA on their royalty payments would be good info.

Nancy Shiffler

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 10:52 p.m.

Non-development means no surface development. The oil under their land is drilled from other sites, so they get royalties for that.

Great Lakes Lady

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

Watch Gasland II.....our environment is being destroyed by greedy politicians with the government- industry revolving door. The corrupt politicians become lobbyists for the industries they formerly regulated. Our natural gas prices will increase due to high demand in other countries.....the natural gas is being exported at higher prices.....while leaving behind vast wastelands of polluted water, air, earthquakes, etc.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 8:30 p.m.

@ann english..."the earth did NOT evolve so we can't destroy it", perhaps the most selfish , shocking statement i think i have ever heard. i'm sure our great-grand children will appreciate attitudes like this . perhaps you should visit valdez alaska, or chernobyl russia. heck drive over to the k-zoo river near marshall to see how a local river can be destroyed by a million gallons of crude. its not pretty, and it does happen. And in certain places is earth is absolutely being destroyed. ignore it if you so choose.

Ann English

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 4:19 p.m.

That's Josh Fox' s propaganda; he can't defend his leftist propaganda. FrackNation is interested in promoting freedom and prosperity, Josh Fox doesn't want plentiful, safe energy for the maximum number of people. He lusts for power, and that means poverty for the maximum number of people. Control of what we believe, produce, and have, JUST LIKE THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA! We DON"T need to listen to or read ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CBS, Hollywood, the New York Times or the Washington Post for news. They're socialists. They like to see socialists elected. The earth did NOT evolve, so we can't destroy it.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:25 p.m.

I didn't know Paxton sucked $100 million worth of oil out of Saline Township last year. Since it's a GOP state, and it sounds like the DEQ is on their side. It would be easier to get rid of syphilis. Meanwhile, this Spring I again saw humble, hardscrabble but proud Salinistas harvesting weeds by hand at roadside and foraging in drainage ditches for food that didn't bear thinking about. They'll begin to worry next year, of course, when the ones with indoor plumbing need pilot lights on their toilets and the frogs they fish out of the ditches have five legs, but by then much of the damage will have been done.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 3:37 p.m.


Great Lakes Lady

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:25 p.m.

I don't agree with the concept of the state intervening and forcing a person to agree to a lease. However, on the flip side, I see why 'compulsory pooling' is a protection for the landowner. If everyone surrounding her agrees to drilling, ....the oil company could drill horizontally under her land, (as in fracking) get the oil under her land, and she would not receive a dime. It does protect her, the consumer. Catch 22.......what is the alternative?


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

That's what Kuwait did to Iraq, ending with us invading Iraq. Would the gov't take some kind of police action against a citizen who refused to allow drilling and destruction of their property?


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

I agree with you Great Lakes Lady, it is a Catch 22. Lorie Armbruster, it seems, and her family will get some money out of lease with Paxton but it is wrong she was forces to sign it. I hope and pray maybe the money will be of some comfort to her.

Usual Suspect

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:20 p.m.

She likes horses. Now she can have a nodding donkey, too!


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:20 p.m.

Nobody in the DEQ or the DNR is interested in individual property owner's rights, nor do I believe they are concerned with the environment if it's getting in the way of corporate interests. Under Engler they turned into a rubber stamp for big business. If you need evidence, google "Nestle" and "Michigan". You will see that the people in Mecosta county successfully fought to restrict pumping from the first well (because Nestle was pumping out more water than they said they would), but the DEQ allowed Nestle to add an additional well whose combined output is equaling the over-extraction from the first.

tom swift jr.

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:17 p.m.

Very nice job on this article, Amy. Good work!


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 4:25 p.m.

I concur, I scrolled back up half way through to see who wrote it.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:06 p.m.

This is just another example that government has gotten to Big! Next the state will tell us property owners what plants and flowers we can have on our property! It is not like Armbruster bought their property next to an airport than complained about aircraft flying over her house, or next to a highway than complained about the noise or smell from cars and trucks. She did not even complain about her neighbors doing what they wanted to do with their rural region property. Armbruster bought and paid for this property and are paying taxes on this property yet the state and Paxton can tell them what they can do with it. This is total Crap!


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 10:54 p.m.

They already tell us what plants we can and can't plant. Not so long ago, the government told farmers to STOP growing crops, because they "wanted to see how it would effect the market".. with all the people starving in our country, not to mention other countries, we are to stop growing food? You can't grow Hemp, which would be an excellent fuel alternative. The government doesn't WANT the human race to become self sustainable, because if they do, then they lose their yachts, their vacation homes, their private schools, and their exorbitant paychecks.. ""I consider it…as subverting the fundamental and characteristic principle of the Government…and as bidding defiance to the sense in which the Constitution is known to have been proposed, advocated, and adopted. If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one. The ultimate authority resides in the people, and that if the federal government go too powerful and overstepped its authority, then the people would develop plans of resistance and resort to arms." ~ James Madison, The Federalist Papers, No. 46.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 7:38 p.m.

Will some of you who voted Judy's comment down please post a comment of your own explaining why you think a private party should be able to use the coercive force of government to usurp the property rights of another private party against the second party's will?


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 4:33 p.m.

nickcarraweigh, point taken!


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

The problem with your statement Judy is that the Compulsory Pooling rules/regulations are decades old, so it is a poor example of growth of big government. That said, I am in complete agreement that it is total crap. This process enriches very few, of which the State is one of those enriched. The department and Supervisor that presides over the Compulsory Pooling Hearing to decide if a new lease is enacted, will receives fees/revenue for any new well. They will then be required conduct inspections (not necessarily a bad thing) which further supporting the department that is in business to develop oil & gas resources. Do the math! 189,102 barrels of oil produced at 42 gallons per barrel is 7,942,284 gallons of oil - all trucked out. Therefore, with 7,942,284 gallons being trucked at 9,000 gallons per tanker is approx. 882 tanker loads of oil, plus an equally vast number of additional brine loads trucked by tanker. Ask Quebec CA what can go wrong with oil transportation. Granted that was train related, but how would 9000 gallons of oil or brine "wasted" affect your drinking water? Read the Oil & Gas Regulations, our health and safety are hardly a primary concern. For example, releases or spills are referred to a waste and this "waste" is to be minimized for production concerns not health and safety concerns. The groundwater monitoring is the minimum possible and still be called monitoring. Don't be relieved by we are not "fracking" statement. Technically true, they fail to mention well stimulation technics or methods used, which can bring 10,000 of hydrochloric acid to a well head through you rural community with little or no hazmat resources at their immediate disposal.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:47 p.m.

If anything, this proves that government isn't big enough. The oil companies are insufficiently regulated and basically write the laws to benefit their interests. This is the kind of stuff that happens when you deregulate industry and dismantle government.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:33 p.m.

ummm, it is not the government, Paxtson is a corporate entity. The government set the rules because other companies and land owners asked for those rules.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

Plant a big patch of marijuana in your yard, Judy, if you think big Government doesn't already tell you what plants and flowers you can have on your property.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 11:42 a.m.

This is HORRIBLE - I can't believe that the state can intervene and force a property owner to participate. Prayers and blessings to the Armbrusters.

Stan Hyne

Sat, Jul 13, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.

I think what they are saying is "from where the well is located they will probably be taking some oil from under your property, so you should get some of the renumeration".


Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 7:27 p.m.

I felt the same way when I was told that the federal government is intervening in my decision to buy health insurance and is forcing me to participate. That decision also deprives me of property--the money I earned through wages.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 11:29 a.m.

How much is Paxton receiving in tax subsidies for its predatory behavior?


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 9:22 p.m.

Why is this even ALLOWED? The Armbuster's paid taxes to the State for THEIR property and now the State (which Corporate CEO's hands in their back pocket) work in back door unison to they a landowner property from under their nose? Is this what we the PEOPLE of MICHIGAN are "comfortable" with our State becoming? Owned LOCK, STOCK and BARREL by Corporations? I hope not!


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 11:46 a.m. or


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 11:22 a.m.

This makes me ill.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 10:19 a.m.

What is the value of the lease? Not that it would be worth it.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:34 p.m.

It doesn't appear that money is their motive otherwise, they would have signed the lease a long time ago.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 11:43 a.m.

craigjjs - Most oil leases give a share of the oil produced to the land owner. In this case the land is 25% of the land needed for a unit (20 acres of an 80 acre unit). So if it was 10% of production (I do not know the specifics of the Paxton leases) - then the share would be 2.5% for this 20 acres - at 15,000 barrels - 2.5% is 375 barrels or about $26,000 at $70 a barrel.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 11:28 a.m.

If coal rights are any guide, with typical creative accounting everyone but the oil company will receive pennies.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 11:23 a.m.

$70 / barrel, and it looks like each well makes about 15,000 barrels average. That's a million bucks retail, so let's say that's 10% profit, which is healthy. The company makes about $1M per well per year, which is $100,000 profit, so she should see $10,000 per year, more or less. This number is an estimate. I could be WAY off. I bet the answer is "thousands to tens of thousands" though.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 10:17 a.m.

Next thing you know Ol' Jeb's a millionaire.

Usual Suspect

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:23 p.m.

Jed, that is.


Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 12:20 p.m.

Besides being a TV show, Ol'Jeb wanted to move and be a millionaire, the Lorie Armbruster does not want to move and is being forced into a contract.