CAIA’s Summary Judgment Win Against State for Violating Idahoans’ Constitutional Rights Holds Firm
FEDERAL DISTRICT JUDGE AFFIRMS EARLIER RULING THAT LANDOWNERS WERE DENIED DUE PROCESS IN FORCED POOLING FOR OIL AND GAS DRILLING – ORDERS DEPT. OF LANDS TO VACATE SPACING AND INTEGRATION ORDERS
A Federal Court confirmed on Friday that the Idaho Oil and Gas Commission and the Idaho Department of Lands violated the U.S. Constitution by forcing Idaho landowners to lease their mineral rights to private companies for oil and gas development. In its ruling, the U.S. District Court affirmed an earlier ruling that Idaho’s system of forced pooling, in which landowners are forced to sell their mineral rights to oil and gas companies, violates due process. The Court clarified that it was ordering the state to reverse both a “spacing order”, which set how many gas wells could be drilled in a particular area, and an “integration order”, which allowed private companies to drill for gas and oil even if landowners objected.
The Federal Court first announced in August that the Oil and Gas Conservation Act, as applied by the Department of Lands and the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, violated the Constitution. The latest ruling came in response to the State of Idaho’s Motion to Alter the Judgment previously entered. Judge B. Lynn Winmill denied the State’s Motion and ordered the state to vacate the orders which led to the lawsuit.
According to Shelley Brock, President of Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA), one of the Plaintiffs that brought the lawsuit, “This is a massive win for Idaho property rights. Until this case, the State was forcing landowners to give up their mineral rights against their will for a pittance and with no consideration for the profound risks their families and property would be exposed to. Equally concerning is the fact that they were being forced into contracts with a company that has been the subject of 2 class action lawsuits in the past 16 months and is on extremely shaky financial grounds. We sincerely hope the State doesn’t continue to drain taxpayer resources to prop up this floundering industry by filing an appeal on a case which has already been decided twice in favor of Idaho property owners.”
Plaintiffs’ Attorney James Piotrowski explained, “This ruling requires the Department of Lands to give Idahoans more guidance on what terms will be applied when it allows oil companies to take our mineral rights against our will. The current statute requires the terms to be ‘just and reasonable’ but that term, without more, is too vague to satisfy the requirements of due process.”
Piotrowski explained that the latest ruling will lead to a new motion for an award of attorney fees to be paid by the Department of Lands. The Department and Commission have until early March to decide whether to appeal the ruling to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
TO SEE FULL LEGAL BRIEF: 15 – Pl Brief in Supp of SJ Dkt 23-1
TO SEE FULL SUMMARY JUDGMENT: CAIA lawsuit 8-13-2018 Winmill SJ Ruling
For additional information please contact:
Piotrowski Durand, PLLC
P.O. Box 2864, Boise, Idaho 83701
Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability (CAIA)
P.O. Box 2622, Eagle, Idaho 83616
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 critical resources by protecting Idaho communities from the impacts of irresponsible oil & gas development.
SEE PREVIOUS UPDATES BELOW:
5/21/2018 – CAIA’s Suit Against State for Violating Idahoans’ Constitutional Rights Moves Forward –LANDOWNERS FORCED TO SELL MINERAL RIGHTS – ASK FEDERAL DISTRICT JUDGE TO REVERSE DEPT. OF LANDS RULING
8/13/2018 – CAIA Wins Summary Judgment against State for Violating Idahoans’ Constitutional Rights –FFEDERAL DISTRICT JUDGE RULES LANDOWNERS WERE DENIED DUE PROCESS IN FORCED POOLING FOR OIL & GAS DRILLING – ORDERS DEPT. OF LANDS TO VACATE ORDE