News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

April 26, 2013

Oil, gas exploration turns to Terre Haute's northside

Terre Town area residents hear from Adler Energy

TERRE HAUTE — Adler Energy of Traverse City, Mich., is pursuing oil development opportunities in the Terre Town area, company president Jordan Miller said Thursday.

“We are in the early stages of prospecting for oil” and/or gas, he said during a meeting of the Terre Town Community Association at Terre Town Elementary. More than 40 people attended, including Terre Haute City Council President Norm Loudermilk.

An Adler Energy representative has been going door-to-door pursuing mineral rights lease agreements with property owners. Those who sign receive a signing bonus, and in the longer term, they would receive royalties from any oil production, Miller said.

“We explore where we think there is the opportunity to produce oil and gas economically,” he said in an interview. Geological information indicates the potential is there. “We’re going to test it,” he said.

He also believes the nation benefits by providing its own domestic energy sources, rather than relying on oil from overseas.

Many residents in the area are on well water, and some raised concerns about potential impact on the water supply and other adverse environmental impacts.

James Fleener made several pointed comments and asked about the possibility of groundwater contamination. If an accident happens, “we are without drinking water,” he said. “What do we do?”

Another association member, Patti Weaver, also raised several questions and told those in the audience, “If you don’t want these people here, don’t let them come.”

Loudermilk, who lives in the area, said after the meeting, “I’m not informed enough, and I know the public I represent isn’t informed enough to make good decisions about these contracts.”

Residents are being asked to sign a five-year lease agreement that can be extended, he said.

“I just don’t think it’s the gold mine people see,” Loudermilk said. “I don’t think it’s going to be a lot of money for property owners who sign these contracts. I don’t think it’s going to do anything except cause problems for our city.”

Loudermilk said he is not opposed to Adler Energy. He said he wishes it success, as long as they do it legally and properly “and they don’t try to pull the wool over people’s eyes.”

At a recent city council meeting, Loudermilk asked for an investigation into all mining and drilling operations occurring in city limits.

He intends to sponsor an ordinance to stop or slow drilling and mining operations in Terre Haute until there is a city council hearing to allow public comment and to review any and all plans by companies for drilling/mining. “No one knows what is going on with respect to this kind of activity,” he said.

Loudermilk also would like for the city council to have greater oversight over drilling/mining operations, which also would give the public an opportunity to ask questions.

Miller said repeatedly during the meeting that the company intends to follow the rules and work closely with regulators, including the Department of Natural Resources division of oil and gas. The company also anticipates working with the Vigo County Area Plan Commission, he said.

He tried to reassure the audience that the company wants to work with the community and would closely follow regulations to prevent any adverse environmental impact. “We are highly regulated by DNR,” he said.

The company doesn’t yet know specifically where it hopes to drill, he said. It does have a production field in Clay County.

Gail Phillips, president of the community association, said some of the residents contacted her after Adler Energy representative Dan Miller went door-to-door, pursuing mineral rights lease agreements.

In an interview before the meeting, she said she believes the company “is showing good faith” by coming to Terre Haute to speak to residents.

“I only want people to get information,” she said. “I wanted to approach these people [Adler Energy] because they were approaching my people,” Phillips said.

Indiana is full of untapped natural resources, she said. “I don’t blame any company for wanting to profit, but they have to do it in a prescribed, legal way,” Phillips said.

She also has spoken to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. She encouraged residents to continue following the issue and to do their own research. Then, they must decide whether to accept the drilling or work to oppose it, she said.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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