Constitution of the State of Idaho: “SECTION 1. INALIENABLE RIGHTS OF MAN. All men are by nature free and equal, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing and protecting property; pursuing happiness and securing safety.” For some landowners, Section 1 doesn’t hold if the mineral rights below their property is owned by another entity (split estates). Split estate homeowners in Ada County own property that is severed from the minerals below. What good is “possessing and protecting property” if a landowner can’t challenge certain permits or decisions made by the state when an oil and gas (O&G) company wants to develop resources below their land? O&G companies are allowed to build any infrastructure they want with little input from those who own the surface property. Last year, the Legislature passed SB1339, which doesn’t do enough for surface owners. Pipelines, roads, or O&G-related infrastructure can be placed on surface property and there’s not much the surface owner can do. Idaho needs to protect surface owners who don’t own mineral rights by passing appropriate legislation. One bill under consideration, HB64, doesn’t go far enough to protect landowners on split estates.
Elizabeth Roberts, Eagle