In one California county, officials are working to ease tensions between surface and mineral owners. The Kern County Board of Supervisors held its first workshop last Monday to lay out a newly created permitting plan for oil and gas drilling in the county.
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The county ordinance and permit program covers 2.3 million acres and will require oil companies to get county approval before drilling. This reverses over 100 years of tradition that previously allowed oil companies to drill wherever they wanted, often without consideration for the competing interests of surface and mineral owners. The new ordinance is designed to allow the two groups to compromise.
A full house was on hand at the workshop with the vast majority consisting of oil and gas leaders and workers who clearly support the new plan. Opponents will have plenty of time to voice concerns over the plan. The board is dedicating the next five months to public comment until final action is taken on the issue in early October.
Suzanne Noble, vice president of the Western States Petroleum Association, told county officials the oil industry is willing to undertake more expense and effort to comply with the county rules in order to get the economic certainty they could get wells permitted.
The federal government must recalculate land buy-back offers that short changed mineral lease owners on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana.
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A program signed signed by President Barack Obama in 2010 was designed to give individual landowners an opportunity to help address the problem of fractionation, the divided ownership that happens as land parcels passed to numerous heirs over generations. The buy-back program has $1.9 billion available to purchase fractional interests.
Original purchase offers were made for $7.50 per acre, but land carrying a mineral lease is worth quite a bit more. The original deal valued at $128 million would cheat residents out of milions
Interior spokeswoman, Treci Johnson blamed human error for the wide difference in the purchase offers for land with mineral leases for Peck Reservation lands. “To correct the error, Johnson said additional mineral research will need to be conducted and the land will be further analyzed to ‘ensure that corrected offers reflect fair market value for mineral interests.’ ”
The Department of the Interior estimates that there are approximately 150 reservations with 2.9 million purchasable fractional interests owned by approximately 245,000 individuals.
Fort Peck residents have until July 30th to agree to the purchase, though Johnson says a new deadline should be forthcoming.
Read more at doi.gov