CAIA Sues IDL & IOGCC Officials for Violating Constitutional Rights of Idahoans
LANDOWNERS DENIED DUE PROCESS – FORCED TO SELL THEIR MINERALS, CITIZEN’S ADVOCACY GROUP CHARGES
Boise – A new lawsuit challenges the process used by Idaho’s Department of Lands to force landowners to lease their mineral rights to oil and gas companies. According to the federal suit filed this week, the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL), and members of the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (IOGCC), have violated the U.S. Constitution by refusing to allow landowners and members of non-profit Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA) a meaningful opportunity to protect their property, and by forcing them to sell their mineral rights against their will.
According to CAIA’s lawsuit, IDL and the Commission compelled landowners to “pool” their natural gas resources and allow a private corporation to drill for, capture and sell their valuable assets even though the landowners did not wish to sell, at prices they did not agree to, and without providing them adequate due process of law. In the course of forcing the Plaintiffs to sell their natural gas, Idaho Department of Lands Director Thomas M. Schultz refused to allow them to challenge the application for pooling on the grounds that the compelled pricing was inadequate to account for the risks the landowners would be required to face, did not correspond to any established market price for the resource, and did not comply with Idaho statutes. In doing so, he has violated the Constitutional rights of hundreds of Idaho citizens, including the particular landowners in the suit.
Federal and State law dictates that the mineral rights of landowners are their own property and may only be taken, transferred, or encumbered in a manner consistent with due process of law under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. According to James Piotrowski, the lawyer who filed the suit, “In Idaho we believe a person’s property is theirs to do with as they please, within the limits of the law. This case is about protecting everyone’s right to control what happens to their own land.” The Plaintiffs assert that the Defendants failed to provide due process and as a result, the investments of the Plaintiffs, safety of their families, and the quiet enjoyment of their property have been placed in jeopardy. CAIA’s lawsuit seeks injunctive relief designed to strike the final orders affecting Plaintiff landowners’ properties and bar the Defendants from rendering similar orders in the future without providing protections required by the United States Constitution.
CAIA is a non-partisan, Idaho citizen-based, non profit (501c3) dedicated to representing and educating the public and participating in public processes to promote the preservation of private property rights, public health, safety and resources while protecting Idaho communities from the impacts of irresponsible oil & gas development.
UPDATE 8/2018: A win! – CAIA & the other plaintiffs have won a Summary Judgement that requires that the State’s forced pooling order be vacated on grounds that those affected were not given a meaningful chance to affect the outcome of the hearing. See https://integrityandaccountability.org/2018/08/13/legal-suit-update/ for more information!
For additional information please contact:
Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA)
P.O. Box 2622, Eagle, Idaho 83616
Herzfeld & Piotrowski, PLLC
P.O. Box 2864, Boise, Idaho 83701