Surface Rights at Liberty MemorialBISMARCK — Landowners in North Dakota whose property covers uranium and other minerals and metals should have the same rights as those whose property overlies oil, gas and coal, a state official told a legislative committee.
By: Janell Cole, The Dickinson Press
BISMARCK — Landowners in North Dakota whose property covers uranium and other minerals and metals should have the same rights as those whose property overlies oil, gas and coal, a state official told a legislative committee.
Senate Bill 2141, if passed, would require mineral developers to notify surface owners that they intend to explore for or produce minerals on the land. The new law would create a process for protecting surface and groundwater and requires developers to offer payment to surface owners.
It would also allow surface owners to request a state Health Department investigation if they question whether health and environmental laws are being followed by mineral developers.
Currently, state laws protect surface owners above coal, oil, natural gas, sand and gravel, but not several more exotic minerals known to lie beneath
Lynn Helms, director of the state Industrial Commission’s Department of Mineral Resources, explained Senate Bill 2141 to the Senate Natural Resources Committee Friday, saying it would ensure surface owners are “justly compensated” if minerals are produced beneath their property.
The Industrial Commission voted last fall to seek the law change because of the potential mining of uranium, germanium and other minerals in the southwest part of the state.
Sen. Connie Triplett, D-Grand Forks, asked if the bill covers landowners with coal-bed methane beneath their property.
Helms said the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that coal bed methane is the same as natural gas.
The committee will consider, at the Liberty Memorial building, some amendments, and so they did not act immediately on the bill.