A Review of Energy & Natural Resources Law Issues at the 2023 UND Law Review Symposium
Updated: May 14
The 2023 University of North Dakota (UND) Law Review's symposium was held on Thursday, March 23, 2023, in Bismarck, North Dakota. The presentations at the symposium examined the role of law and regulation governing the development of carbon, capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS), including carbon dioxide (CO2) transportation infrastructure; a review of oil and gas royalties and pooling issues; and the status of the Missouri river and lake Sakakawea mineral issues.
My presentation comprised a review of the emerging legal and regulatory developments in the commercialization and use of underground pore spaces for energy decarbonization operations. It outlined the underlying property law principles governing the use of such subsurface areas for CCUS operations and options for developing an integrated approach to commercializing CO2.
Globally, there is growing interest in how such CO2 can be captured from various industrial and energy production sources and permanently stored or used in enhanced oil recovery operations, food processing, raw material for producing synthetic fuels and chemicals, building materials, etc. The right to use and possess the subsurface pore spaces largely depend on whether such formations or voids are within the land(s) owned by private individuals such as a farmer or owned by the federal government or other public agencies. I highlighted the relevant legal framework and provisions in jurisdictions like Alberta, Canada, and Norway with regard to developing CCUS projects. Then discussed some of the relevant judicial decisions in the US from Texas and North Dakota regarding the ownership and rights to use underground pore spaces between a typical landowner and owner of a mineral estate. The North Dakota Supreme Court recently addressed this issue in the case of Northwest Landowners Association v. State 2022 ND 150, 978 N.W.2d 679.
Other papers and presentations from the symposium are available at the 2023 North Dakota Law Review Energy Law Symposium. Speakers at the symposium include Kevin Connors (UND's Energy and Environmental Research Center), James Curry, Attorney, Babst Colland Attorneys at Law, Juan Palma, Senior Policy Advisor to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Craig Smith, Attorney, Crowley Fleck PLLP, Joshua Swanson, Attorney, Vogel Law Firm, Paul Forster, Attorney, Crowley Fleck PLLP.
See the Spring 2023 issue of the Gavel Magazine (a publication of the State Bar Association of North Dakota) for a brief summary of presentations at the symposium.
Symposium materials, slides, and information are available here