MIT's Center for Future Civic Media, where researchers develop novel technologies for communities, has launched the Landman Report Card, an easy-to-use web-based resource that helps landowners educate and assist each other as they negotiate drilling rights with oil and gas company representatives.
Chris Csikszentmihályi, Director of the Center for Future Civic Media, said, “There’s a real need for this kind of information. Recent findings in New York State and Wyoming indicate that the impacts of natural gas mining are profound and lasting, and we are just starting to learn about the long-term effects of hydraulic fracturing on human health, property, and the environment. An army of ‘landmen’, whose job is to get the best terms for the companies they represent, are now combing many parts of the U.S. Landowners often feel pressured to sign away their mineral rights immediately, even though an agreement could have long-lasting effects on their health, property, and community. Landowners need time and information to make a good decision.”
Landman Report Card allows users to submit reports about individual landmen and their companies, browse report cards submitted by other users, contact other users, and use the site as their own private diary of interactions with this industry. The site also provides links to information about best practices for land professionals, information about the gas leasing process, and information to help landowners prepare for a visit from a landman.
“Knowledge is key”, says Csikszentmihályi. “Landman Report Card gives citizens in mineral-rich areas of the country a way to learn about the professional negotiators knocking on their doors. A decision to sign a lease — or not — can change a family’s life and their community, so the more people know about landmen and their business practices the better prepared they can be to negotiate. We have found that landowners in a community where drilling is just starting are often very surprised to read about the experiences of people who have been living with drilling for decades.”
Landman Report Card (www.landmanreportcard.com) was produced in collaboration with citizens' alliances in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia as well as the EARTHWORKS Oil and Gas Accountability Project.
About the Center for Future Civic Media
The Center for Future Civic Media at MIT develops new technologies and social systems for sharing, prioritizing, organizing, and acting on information. The Center supports and fosters civic media and political action; serves as an international resource for the study and analysis of civic media; and coordinates community-based test beds both in the United States and internationally.