Thursday, May 10, 2012

Amendment to Seismic Exploration Regulation Act

SB 243 amends provisions of the Seismic Exploration Regulation Act related to required notification procedures for surface estate owners. It requires seismic exploration operator applicants to file an affidavit within 90 days with the county clerk reporting the mailing of a notice and listing the surface owners which were not locatable. Surface owners that are not locatable will be deemed as having rejected the offer. It also requires the notice to include a description of the surface estate to be entered upon for seismic exploration. If there is not a prior written agreement related to seismic operation, the notice must include a specific provision related to the amount of damages offered by the operator to the surface owner.
The measure requires an operator to provide notice to the surface owner at least 15 days prior to seismic exploration, and in the absence of an agreement, requires the two parties to make a good-faith effort to resolve reasonable damage issues. The surface owner may accept the offer by following specified procedures, but that acceptance does not prohibit the owner from attempting to recover damages. If the surface owner rejects or fails to make a timely acceptance of the offer prior to the deadline, the surface owner will be deemed to have rejected it and the operator may enter the property and commence seismic operations. The measure requires an applicant to file an affidavit with information about attempts to contact the surface owners and provides for a cause of action for damages, defines the circumstances in which the surface owner or the operator is the prevailing party and directs the recovery of costs.
Again, if prior to the expiration of the fifteen-day notice period, the surface owner rejects the amount tendered with the notice required in writing to the operator, or the surface owner fails to make a timely acceptance of the offer contained in the notice, then the surface owner will be deemed to have rejected the offer tendered with the notice, and the operator may enter the property and commence seismic operations.
This means that you may reject the offer but the exploration will continue anyway. You may still go to court and sue for damages if you reject the exploration company’s offer.
If the surface owner has properly rejected or has been deemed to have rejected the amount tendered with the notice required, the surface owner may initiate an action pursuant to The Small Claims Procedure Act or a civil action pursuant to the Oklahoma Pleading Code, as appropriate, to recover the reasonable damages, if any, actually sustained by reason of the operator's seismic exploration. 
This bill was approved by the governor on this day.



  2. This is an unreasonable search and seizure of property. Just as the authors of the US Constitution believed in the 3rd Amendment, that a person's home and property should be above unreasonable intrusion--quartering soldiers there without permission of the home owner--likewise the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution protects people against unreasonable invasion of their property in search of anything, and unreasonable seizure of their goods. The 4th Amendment reads: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." For the State of Oklahoma to unilaterally and without Due Process permit oil companies to invade people's lands and destroy property not only violates the 4th Amendment but the 5th Amendment as well, as it denies Due Process and Protection of Private Property without Just Compensation: "...nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." People whose lands are invaded for oil exploration and exploitation need to file Civil Rights lawsuits against the State of Oklahoma and the various oil companies. Also, the 9th and 10th Amendments to the US Constitution provide that all rights not specified or enumerated in the Constitution are retained by the state or by the people. Oklahoma cannot just arbitrarily award entry and use of anyone’s property without that person’s permission, obtained through proper notice and hearing—protected by the 4th and 5th Amendments—and the persons must be justly compensated for that use of their land. While a state may have rights of eminent domain, the state must provide the land owner proper notice AND the case must be heard before the Court and adjudge reasonable for the greater good of the People. To unilaterally award oil companies access to lands without due process of law and just compensation violates the US Constitution in the very least at the 4th, 5th and 9th and 10th amendments.