Friday, February 23, 2018

Disappointing petition decision

I am disappointed that our county rejected a petition from more than 500 signatories to establish requirements to protect their property while preserving the rights of mineral owners to develop oil and gas resources under their land.
I did not sign the petition because I live just outside the proposed zone. I did, however, appreciate my neighbors’ work to inform the county about how to protect both landowners and potential developers.
For more than three years, the Stillwater County Commissioners came up with requirements for the petitioners to meet and postponed decision-making. Months after the commissioners said that the legally required sixty percent of residents in the zone had signed the petition they ruled that sixty percent of mineral-right holders also must sign. This last-minute requirement, used to reject the petition, would be laughable if it were not the final blow to an excellent proposal.
While some county landowners had the opportunity to buy the mineral rights under their land, most of us did not. Many of us do not know who owns those rights. The owners may live anywhere and can sell or transfer their rights without our knowledge.
Our commissioners put a ridiculous task in front of the petitioners in order to deny the petition. They apparently view petitioners as a force to oppose rather than citizens to help. Good governance demands that officials play fair, do their work in a reasonable timeframe and ensure that legal and bureaucratic requirements are open and clear, not introduced at the last minute to derail citizen protections.

Frank Willett
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