Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Western Legal Group Wins In Pennsylvania Court
Energy operators in Pennsylvania, after winning at the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia in September 2011, which upheld a December 2009 ruling by a Pennsylvania federal district court regarding the property rights of oil and gas operators, today celebrated the district court’s final ruling in their favor and against three environmental groups. The energy operators sued the U. S. Forest Service for settling the groups’ lawsuit. In its 2009 ruling, the district court barred the agency from implementing its settlement agreement with the groups, prohibited it from doing studies on the use of privately owned oil, gas, and mineral rights beneath the Allegheny National Forest (ANF), and lifted the moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the ANF. The district court converted its preliminary injunction into a final declaratory judgment. Minard Run Oil Company and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association are represented by Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF), the District of Columbia law firm of Crowell & Moring, and the Wolford Law Firm of Erie. “We are delighted with this final ruling, with the vacatur of the illegal settlement agreement, and with the permanent lifting of the ban on oil and gas drilling on private property,” said William Perry Pendley, MSLF president. The ANF, which covers 500,000 acres in Elk, Forest, McKean, and Warren Counties in northwestern Pennsylvania, comprises lands that were once privately owned and were purchased under the 1911 Weeks Act during the 1920s. Because the United States bought only the surface estate, most of the mineral rights in the ANF are privately owned. Thus, there is no contractual basis for any federal government regulatory authority over outstanding oil, gas, and mineral (OGM) rights in the ANF. Although, under Pennsylvania law, owners of OGM estates have the right to go onto the surface to access their property and to use as much of the surface as necessary to remove it, the law provides for accommodation; therefore, OGM rights must be exercised with “due regard” for the interests of surface owners. That the United States owns the surface does not change the law. In accordance with the Forest Service Manual, the Forest Service has only limited rights as to the use of OGM rights within the ANF...more