The Oklahoma Farm Bureau Legal Foundation, along with a coalition of agricultural organizations, this week filed an application supporting private property rights in a lawsuit between county commissioners and oil and gas companies.
The Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association recently sued the Kingfisher County commissioners in the Oklahoma Supreme Court after the commissioners banned oil and gas companies from placing temporary produced-water pipelines in bar ditches along county roads. The OKFB Legal Foundation, along with Kingfisher County Farm Bureau, Oklahoma Farmers Union, Kingfisher County Farmers Union and the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, filed an amicus curiae application in the case to protect the rights of landowners.
“Private property rights are vitally important to those of us in agriculture and rural Oklahoma,” said Rodd Moesel, OKFB president. “Farmers and ranchers work hard to care for the land. Our goal in filing this motion is to ensure our friends in the oil and gas industry also are protecting the land that’s so crucial to our way of life.”
The application asserts that the commissioners’ ban “deprives Oklahoma landowners of property rights” that are protected by the state constitution, citing authority that the neighboring landowner “owns to the middle of the road.” The application also argues that oil and gas companies must receive landowner consent prior to using the right-of-way, and that landowners are entitled to just compensation for use of the land.
OKFB members have longstanding grassroots policy on the issue. Current OKFB policy states that “any entity wanting to use easements or right-of-ways, such as oil and gas companies placing temporary or permanent water lines in a bar ditch, must contact the landowner to first notify him and then negotiate with him for the right to do so. If any compensation is due for this use, it should be paid to the landowner. County commissioners shall be notified of such use, after the entity desiring use and the landowner have come to an agreement.”
About the Oklahoma Farm Bureau Legal Foundation
The Oklahoma Farm Bureau Legal Foundation was created in 2001 by the Oklahoma Farm Bureau board of directors for the purpose of entering the legal arena to protect private property rights and production agriculture. The OKFB Legal Foundation strives to serve farmers and ranchers through engaging in public interest litigation, researching legal issues affecting family farmers and rural Oklahomans, and educating farmers and ranchers and the public about issues important to agriculture.