Amendment Leads to Passage of SB 170
State Senators have changed their minds about revising how surface owners are compensated for damage caused by mineral development. Senate Bill 170 failed to get a majority vote last Friday, but was reconsidered on the Senate floor Monday. Senator Larry Rhoden is the prime sponsor and offers and amendment he hopes will address a concern in the proposed legislation.
“The issue that was brought forward during our floor debate, and was reiterated to me from the mineral developer, were issues that were brought to bear by virtue of the fact that we allowed annual payments. The mineral developer that I had a conversation with in Belle Fourche brought the scenario of if the landowner absolutely insisted on annual payments, what position that would leave the developer in if he came onto the property, drilled a dry hole, and what the ramifications would be,” Rhoden says.
With the amendment, the bill only allows surface owners to receive a lump sum for damages. Opponents to Senate Bill 170 don’t think the language in the bill is specific enough to quantify damages. The amended measure passes the Senate 21 to 13.
The version the House will consider adds use and access to surface owner’s land for potential compensation, plus guidelines for how to handle damages when there isn’t an agreement in place.