Troy Coons, NWLA Chairman
Northwest Landowners Association represents over 525 farmers, ranchers, and property owners in North Dakota and is a nonprofit organization.
Northwest Landowners Association urges a DO NOT PASS on SB 2344.
Using temporary storage of gas as a way to address the flaring problem and using CO2 injection to recover oil, both sound like good ideas, and we are not opposed to those ideas in principle. We do not know what the actual or original intent of this bill was, but the way in which this bill is attempting to deal with these problems is extremely concerning and a bald face taking of property rights. Our organization has heard from members, non-members, and numerous law firms in North Dakota who are all upset about this Bill and its unintended consequences. Many landowners we have talked to are extremely alarmed that the first solution proposed for these issues is to entirely take away the pore space owners’ right to compensation. And people are upset that this has been done without even reaching out to the landowner community to discuss it.
Our understanding is that some of the Bill’s supporters have claimed that it is uneconomical to use the temporary gas storage if pore space owners must be compensated. This is not a good reason to simply take the right to compensation away from the surface owner, and take away a pore space owner’s right to sue for trespass or other wrongs against him. We have a free market system and private property rights, and the government should not be taking rights away from pore space owners, or interfering with private contracts. This Bill redefines property rights that have been confirmed by legal doctrines for many years. Even more alarming, it changes the very definition of land. Nothing could be more offensive to the landowners of this state.
This is also a very extreme taking of private property rights. Instead of the industry that is benefiting from use of the pore space, the State of North Dakota may be paying the damages to landowners in eminent domain actions. This is not, in our view, the role of the government.
We see mineral development as a partnership between the surface owners, mineral owners, and the operators. We as landowners have worked very hard over the years to make this partnership work, and we are disheartened that we are even discussing taking away property rights in a way that leaves the owner with nothing, just to benefit the industry.
We encourage all landowners to contact their legislators and urge a DO NOT PASS on SB 2344.
Northwest Landowners Association Board of Directors