Thursday, February 12, 2009

Oil-and-gas rights debate draws crowd

The New Mexican reports:

Oil-and-gas industry representatives and advocates of increasing the rights of landowners who don’t own the mineral rights under their property squared off Wednesday before the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which drew a standing-room-only crowd. Information about the ownership of mineral rights can be hard to find. Surface rights owners often don’t learn until just before production starts that someone else has the right to drill on their property. The legislation would require oil and gas producers to notify surface owners 30 days before signing a lease with mineral rights owners. It would also require that surface owners be told the identity of the mineral owner and be given time to try to negotiate their own lease or purchase of the rights under their property. More than a dozen people testified on each side of the issue. Supporters included representatives from the Sierra Club, the Oil and Gas Accountability Project, Santa Fe County, The Environmental Law Center and several private citizens including surface owners and ranchers. Opponents included representatives from Conoco Philips, Chevron, the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association and the State Land Office. Several people who make their living researching mineral rights ownership also spoke is opposition to the bill. Committee members on Wednesday were called to the House floor before a vote could be taken on moving HB 219 forward...

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