PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pennsylvania's Supreme Court heard arguments in a natural gas case that could cause chaos for major energy companies and thousands of leaseholders.
But the questions from the justices at the Tuesday hearing suggested they may be reluctant to cause such disruptions by significantly modifying existing law.
The case concerns an 1881 property deed and established law known as the Dunham rule, which defines "minerals" as only metallic substances such as gold and iron.
In the new case one side claims their mineral rights also give them ownership of the natural gas inside the Marcellus Shale.
But Justice Max Baer asked why the 1881 deed specifically mentioned ownership of oil, but not natural gas, and asked whether changing the Dunham rule could "turn the whole world upside down."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.