Feds Question Wyoming Split-Estate Law

Casper, WY – As Wyoming's new split-estate law is set to go into effect, the federal government may be ready to fight the state over its implementation. The law is intended to protect landowners, who don't own the mineral rights under their land. Don Likwartz is the Supervisor of the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which recently received a letter from Bureau of Land Management Director Kathleen Clarke. Likwartz says the tone of that letter was that the split-estate law would not be applicable to lands where the federal government owns the minerals. Clarke's letter said the split-estate law would put an undue level of requirements on the federal government and would make their lands less likely to be developed. A BLM spokeswoman in Washington said this week that this position has long been expressed to state officials. But Likwartz disputes that, saying BLM officials had been telling him they would not protest. Likwartz says the Wyoming Attorney General has reviewed the law and is convinced that the state is correct. So Likwartz says his instructions are to apply the split-estate law to federal minerals starting July 1st.