With no debate the Wyoming Senate gave final approval to a bill that would raise bonding for oil and gas drillers seeking access to surface land they don't own.
The current bond is $2,000. The bill is attempting to raise that to $10,000, partly in an effort to encourage operators to negotiate surface use agreements with landowners.
Bill sponsor Jim Anderson of Glenrock says surface use agreements are the preferred approach because landowners can negotiate timelines for drilling, reclamation requirements and other protections. Some Senators were concerned that the higher bond would hurt smaller operators, but Anderson says those operators rarely bond on.
"Given the smaller locations, the smaller operations, the smaller disturbance, it seemed like they can probably come to the table without bonding more so than the larger companies. So that just went away."
Anderson says the bill offers critical protections for landowners. It now moves to the House for further debate.