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Landowners form group to promote property rights

The new Northwest Landowners Association elected board members and outlined initiatives they intend to present to the state legislature during a meeting attended by about 50 interested people held December 15th in Berthold.

12/22/10 (Wed)

Association takes in NW portion of state

 

The new Northwest Landowners Association elected board members and outlined initiatives they intend to present to the state legislature during a meeting attended by about 50 interested people held December 15th in Berthold.

 

The group was formally organized to create a network to inform, support, educate and promote property rights issues among landowners in the region, according to by-laws adopted at the meeting. The NWLA seeks a balanced and fair development of resources, including wind, in a responsible manner.

 

Officers for the organization were elected from the new board members. Myron Hanson of Souris was chosen president, Terry Coons of Donnybrook as vice-president, Daryl Peterson of Antler as secretary and Bob Grant of Berthold as treasurer.

 

Other board members, four elected from each of three areas and one elected at-large, included Arley Larson, Tom Wheeler and James Dahl of Ray, Daryl Belik of Ross, Floyd Duchsherer of Minot, Lance Kjelshus of Souris, David King and Bryan Ankenbauer of Kenmare, and David Bird of Bowbells.

 

The association encompasses the northwest quadrant of the state, especially the oil producing counties, at this time.

 

Initial dues were set at $100 for a landowner to join the organization as a voting member. An annual dues structure will be determined by the Board. Membership dues may be sent to Bob Grant at 6050 Old Highway 2, Berthold ND 58718 any time.

 

The immediate order of business for the association was to draft legislation to forward to the North Dakota legislative assembly for consideration in January.

 

Surface owner rights

The first initiative supported by the NWLA calls for energy companies to be required to negotiate surface damages and annual production location leases with the surface owner before exploration activities take place.

 

NWLA wants to see a surface rights arbitration board established to oversee negotiations of equitable surface agreements and enforcement of North Dakota Industrial Commission regulations. Energy companies and surface owners would submit to the arbitration board if no agreement could be reached in a situation. Maximum and minimum spacing requirements would be required in the lease agreements, and the energy companies would be required to submit copies of freely negotiated surface agreements, including exploration damages and annual compensation, for publication. The annual compensation agreements would be subject to review every three years.

 

A second initiative addresses the NWLA’s support for the use of closed containment systems for the use of all drilling fluids, with no open pit recovery systems allowed.

 

Finally, the NWLA wants to see a state fund established to pay costs associated with the restoration of land damaged by energy development activity.

 

Organization of the NWLA has been in the planning stages since March 2010, when a meeting was held in Berthold to discuss interest in such a network. Landowners throughout the northwest region expressed concerns about communicating and negotiating with wind, oil and gas companies moving in to develop the area at a rapid pace. Landowners also wanted a means to communicate with each other about issues and problems related to energy development, especially as energy production creates impacts on future use of the land, and to establish a unified voice to address local, county and state governments with their concerns.

 

“There’s going to be energy produced here through our grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s time,” Grant said. “The things we’re signing today and working on today are going to affect our grandchildren.”

 

The North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources Oil & Gas Division provides information to surface and mineral owners regarding questions about exploration and production of oil and gas in the state. Several links to specific aspects of energy production are provided at the “Surface and Mineral Owners Information” page found at www.dmr.nd.gov/oilgas.

 

Chapter 38-11.1 and 38-11.2 of North Dakota Century Code address oil and gas production damage compensation and subsurface exploration damages as defined by state law. Chapter 38-18 is known as the “Surface Owner Protection Act” and was written to provide the maximum amount of constitutionally permissible protection to surface owners from the undesirable effects of mineral development.

 

These chapters of NDCC and further information in state law about mining and gas and oil production can be found online at www.legis.nd.gov/cencode/t38.

 

For more information about the NWLA, contact any officer or board member.