Editor’s Note: This article was produced in partnership with the ProPublica Local Reporting Network.
By KEN WARD JR.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Linda Stimmell gets upset every time EQT Corp.’s checks arrive in the mail. The energy giant extracts natural gas from beneath the Stimmell family’s old farm in Doddridge County, West Virginia, under the terms of a lease signed when Teddy Roosevelt was president.
The royalty checks Stimmell receives from two “Bates Wells,” named for her great-great-grandfather, Andrew Jackson Bates, amount to just $9 and $3 each quarter.
The lease Bates signed more than a century ago with Carnegie Natural Gas Co. of Pittsburgh allowed legendary industrialist Andrew Carnegie’s company to drill for, produce and sell as much natural gas as Carnegie wanted. In exchange, Bates got a flat fee of $300 a year per well.
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