Conflicts Between the Exploitation of Lignite and Oil and Gas: The Case For Reciprocal Accommodation
Kramer, Bruce M.
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The incompatibility of certain types of mineral development on the same acreage is a longstanding but well-hidden problem that affects the development of American energy supplies. This article analyzes the incompatibility problem from several perspectives. First, it introduces the basic problems of ownership of minerals under Texas statutes and regulations and illustrates the nature of the conflict. Second, the article explores the doctrines of subjacent support and implied easements and discusses how adoption of rules relating to the interpretation of deeds or leases containing the phrase "oil, gas, and other minerals" can exacerbate or ameliorate the problem. Third, the article relates the doctrines of subjacent support and implied easements to the problem of developmental conflicts by analyzing the common law solutions to the problem of mutually exclusive developmental rights. Further, the use of surface owner consent statutes, enacted in several states to resolve developmental conflicts, is also discussed. These statutes give surface owners the right to veto certain types of mineral development under various circumstances. Several recent court decisions interpreting the validity of these statutes are studied. Finally, this article provides recommendations for resolving developmental conflicts, including statutory or regulatory measures authorizing state involvement.