Negotiator magazine dot com title

THE NEGOTIATOR MAGAZINE: Dedicated to being the finest resource on negotiation.
Find us on Facebook

Page 3

1   2   3   4   5   Next

Resource Claiming

The battle for access to natural resources is as old in the United States as the settlement of the country and its emergence from the colonial era. The break with the English crown and the founding of the United States as an independent nation did nothing to diminish the search for natural resources. The change in government did, however, create a new order for the claiming of resources. Lands within the young U.S. were held by the federal government on behalf of its people. Private ownership of U.S. lands had to be gained via a land patenting claim process, which continued even as additional U.S. lands were acquired by purchase, treaty or war.

Early in the 1800's, mining claims were filed by those seeking to develop mineral interests beneath the surface. Some minerals were, and still are, referred to as locatables, leaseables and saleables. Locatables might include coal, gold, silver or similar vein deposits. Leaseables may be minerals such as oil, gas and others. Saleables might be considered rock or similar aggregates.

In fulfilling a national policy of land disposal, securing an early mining claim for sub-surface resources often meant procurement of the surface as well. In some cases, some oil and gas deposits were granted to private parties. In other cases, the state claimed certain rights. In most cases, however, oil and gas reserves were reserved by the federal government. Even in private ownership situations, a certain percentage of royalty can be obtained through a leasing process by the federal government in the form of a federal lease. This led to a situation known as "split-estate", wherein the surface is severable from the mineral interest.

It is important to realize that the nature of oil and gas resources remain largely irregular and sometimes unfixed, within boundaries which are not easily drawn on a map. This situation was especially true in the early 1800's and continues until the present day.

Throughout United States history, conflict over the subdivision of the surface has been a continuing condition. Today, ownership continues to transfer as new sub-surface resources are located and/or identified as technologically feasible for extraction and consumption. In addition, ownership continues to transfer as surface acreages are subdivided and re-combined.

Again, to illustrate the complexity of this issue, we must recall that reservoirs of "resource" (that is, in this case, oil or gas) create its own natural boundaries beneath the man-made boundaries of the mineral ownership and on top of that, overlay the man-made boundaries of the surface owner - which, over time, increased in number as parcels were divided smaller and smaller. Suddenly a parcel of land may embrace any number of owners and often conflicting interests. This has led to a volatile situation equal to or greater than that of water wealth - an incidentally related issue by implication due, in part, to its extraction during certain drilling procedures.

Once land acquisition became more wide-spread; the railroad finally crossed the country shore to shore; and, major mineral deposits had been secured and developed, the mineral patenting system began to be abused and utilized as a means of securing surface estate through mineral patent acquisition. Laws allowing what was once considered a valuable enterprise, now began to allow for misuse. This, unfortunately and historically is often the case with many antiquated laws.

Mining laws, dating to 1866 and including the Mining Law of 1872 and the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 and all their many amendments addressing support of the oil and gas industry - have, unfortunately not kept pace with modern sensibilities.

The growth of industrialized nations has led to the emergence of the wealthiest, and not surprisingly, most powerful industry on Earth. Sadly, such uncontested emergence in tandem with a hungry and dependent world has also fostered an abhorrent global legacy of waste, toxic pollution, corruption and human rights abuses.

As such, outdated laws favoring the mining industry have become grossly inadequate to meet the needs of our current social responsibilities and evolving priorities.

1   2   3   4   5   Next

Hydraulic Fracturing: A Controversy and A Case for Evolved Negotiations,Part One: A Primer on Resource Extraction and Hydraulic Fracturing by Lisa Bracken

Copyright © 2012 Lisa Bracken
Copyright © 2012 The Negotiator Magazine
The Negotiator Magazine  (May, 2012)