If you want to save it, buy it

  Dear HCN,

I realize I'm a little late writing to you about your coalbed methane article (HCN, 11/5/01: Wyoming's powder keg), but I wanted to provide a viewpoint that probably isn't shared by many of your readers.

What I understand from the article is that some landowners are upset at the development of coalbed methane wells on their land or adjacent to their land. The landowners generally don't own the mineral rights, they just own the surface rights. I'm not a lawyer, but there must be a ton of case law and precedent that establishes those rights and the exercise thereof. The landowners knew all about the surface vs. mineral rights when purchasing the land. They are free to go and try to purchase the mineral rights, but my guess is the mineral rights are far too expensive (after all, there's coal and natural gas down there that could be worth a fortune), so they opted for the cheaper surface rights to the land.

Bottom line, if the land is worth so much to you to keep it in its "natural state," then buy the mineral rights.

Mike Jennison
Broomfield, Colorado
High Country News Classifieds