Senate amends bill to protect land surface owners from mineral exploration companies

Jan 30, 2013

The Wyoming Senate continued work on a bill that would require companies doing seismic exploration for minerals to post bonds or negotiate a contract with the surface owners.

Proponents say seismic operators sometimes trespass on private property.

In its current state, the bill expands bonding and increases bond amounts to encourage negotiations with land owners, and it ensures bonds could be applied to the remediation of damage to the property caused by seismic exploration. New language also clarifies that holding a permit from the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission does not entitle trespassing.

Senator Chris Rothfuss is concerned about language that the Senate removed from the bill that would have required the seismic operator to have a lease for the minerals and a land use agreement in place with the surface owner before going on the property.

"With the language struck it is now incumbent upon the landowner to somehow establish that the seismic operator does not have the authority,” Rothfuss says. “So they have to press charges and trespassing and somehow catch them on the land, and do all these difficult things because a permit’s in place."

The Senate will debate the bill once more.