Sundance Times - Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

Landowner group forms for oil pipeline

Pro Wyoming chasing best possible easement deals


October 10, 2019

Landowners along the proposed new oil pipeline to be installed by Bridger Pipelines have banded together to form Pro Wyoming, a group dedicated to ensuring the best possible easement deal for everyone impacted by the installation of the line.

Donley Darnell, president of the group, and Earl Williams, treasurer, visited the county commissioners along with several of the estimated 100 members of the group last week to introduce Pro Wyoming and request the county’s support. Pro Wyoming is for landowners along the entire length of the pipeline as it crosses this state.

There is plenty of money associated with this venture, Williams said, and the group intends to make sure the landowners are dealt with fairly. The pipeline will roughly mirror the route of an older line that was installed in around 1955 and easements exist from that time period, but the group hopes to ensure new easements are negotiated to more modern standards.

“They’ve contacted landowners and we have formed this organization,” Williams said.

“Our main goal is that, on the old right-of-way, there is no liability waiver for the landowner…We want to deal with that issue.”

Pro Wyoming also wants to negotiate metes-and-bounds, he continued, and a commitment to reclamation and weed control, which does not appear on the 1955 easement. The old easement also did not address spills and environmental damage, Williams said.

In summary, Williams explained that Pro Wyoming wants the landowners to still be able to enjoy their land as they meant to enjoy it before the pipeline was announced. For example, landowners should be able to improve their roads or travel safely across their land to feed cattle or carry hay without the concern of damaging the line.

“We feel like everybody’s getting paid – except the landowners,” commented Darnell. In terms of the county’s contribution to this cause, Darnell said he would like the commissioners to tell the company to “stop waving the 1955 easement in the air and get serious about negotiating.”

County Attorney Joe Baron agreed that forming a group and hiring one lawyer to negotiate on behalf of everyone is likely to be the most positive move for the landowners. Not only does it give them more negotiating power, he said, it also improves their chances of being heard.

“From the pipeline’s point of view, they would much rather work with you as one group as opposed to individually,” he said, noting that a cohesive group avoids the issue of “divide and conquer” whereby the company could “split you up and buy you out cheap”.

Baron also suggested contacting the landowner group that formed for the Oneok Elk Creek Pipeline, noting that no complaints have been received for that project.

The county’s role in determining the route of a pipeline through Crook County is to adhere to the outlined policy through which the commissioners approve construction that will cross county roads. Commissioner Kelly Dennis commented that, when Oneok Pipelines followed this procedure, “the landowners had to be satisfied” before the commissioners were willing to grant permission.

The county will also assist Pro Wyoming in locating additional potentially affected landowners by providing mailing addresses of properties along the proposed route via Growth & Development.

Corrected 10/10 9:43 a.m.


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