AAPL Governmental Affairs Weekly Report - Week of 1/21/19

  • 1.  AAPL Governmental Affairs Weekly Report - Week of 1/21/19

    Posted 01-21-2019 11:49
    Edited by AAPL Admin 01-21-2019 11:49
      |   view attached
    Following please find highlights from the AAPL Governmental Affairs Weekly Report for the week of January 21, 2019. The full report is attached to this post.

    STATE - JUDICIAL: Permitting; Rulemaking – Colorado. (Update to 10/29/18 Weekly Report) On January 14, the Colorado Supreme Court finally issued its opinion in Martinez v. Colo. Oil & Gas Conservation Cmm'n (Case No. 2019 CO 3). AAPL has been reporting on this case throughout 2018, and we are pleased to deliver this favorable opinion. The court held that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) properly declined to engage in a rulemaking proposed by a group of environmentalist-supported teenagers which, "among other things, would have precluded the Commission from issuing any permits for the drilling of an oil and gas well 'unless the best available science demonstrates, and an independent, third-party organization confirms, that drilling can occur in a manner that does not cumulatively, with other actions, impair Colorado's atmosphere, water, wildlife, and land resources, does not adversely impact human health, and does not contribute to climate change.'" The case specifically targeted hydraulic fracturing which the litigants claimed adversely impacts human health. According to the holding, pertinent statutory provisions do not allow the COGCC "to condition all new oil and gas development on a finding of no cumulative adverse impacts to public health and the environment. Rather, the provisions make clear that the Commission is required (1) to foster the development of oil and gas resources, protecting and enforcing the rights of owners and producers, and (2) in doing so, to prevent and mitigate significant adverse environmental impacts to the extent necessary to protect public health, safety, and welfare, but only after taking into consideration cost-effectiveness and technical feasibility." This ruling overturns a 2018 decision by the Colorado Court of Appeals which found in favor of the teen litigants. "Today's outcome is positive for all Coloradans," said Tracee Bentley, Executive Director of the Colorado Petroleum Council. "The court was right to deny a single out-of-state interest group-one that advocates for ending all energy development across the country-the ability to rewrite our state's laws." Read more. (For a deeper review of the case also see the Welborn Sullivan Meck & Tooley, P.C. law firm post here.)

    STATE - LEGISLATIVE: Unauthorized Practice of Law – Oklahoma. Sen. Michael Brooks (D) has pre-filed SB 514 for a first reading scheduled for February 4, 2019. The bill defines the term "unauthorized practice of law", creates a misdemeanor criminal offense, establishes punishment, and provides for an effective date of November 1, 2019, if signed into law. Read more.

    STATE - LEGISLATIVE: Abandoned Mineral Interests – West Virginia. On January 14, Del. Pat McGeehan (R) introduced HB 2373. The bill creates a procedure to streamline the process to claim abandoned mineral interests and details the notice requirements as well as the procedures for perfecting a claim to those mineral interests. Read more.

    Russell Cohen
    AAPL Governmental Affairs


  • 2.  RE: AAPL Governmental Affairs Weekly Report - Week of 1/21/19

    Posted 01-22-2019 16:05
    Oklahoma SB514 appears to pose a serious threat to many landmen working in Oklahoma.  Those of us who prepare documents and represent and/or testify on behalf of clients (whether industry companies or mineral owners) in hearings at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission before the Administrative Law Judges would appear to be in jeopardy under this legislation.

    Gail Cope RPL
    Cope Oil & Gas Properties, Inc.
    Oklahoma City OK
    (405) 720-6443

  • 3.  RE: AAPL Governmental Affairs Weekly Report - Week of 1/21/19

    Posted 02-04-2019 16:58

    Thank you for your comment. The proposed Senate Bill 514, which was introduced today and referred to the Judiciary Committee, reads as follows: "..."unauthorized practice of law" occurs when a person solicits or accepts compensation for giving legal advice of any kind or acting on behalf of a client in any judicial or administrative proceeding without being licensed to practice law in this state. This shall include, but not be limited to, appearing before a court on behalf of a client or preparing and causing a document to be presented to a court on behalf of a client." These actions have always been considered the practice of law in most jurisdictions.

    AAPL, through our Governmental Affairs Manager, Russell Cohen, and our Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Committee, is reviewing and monitoring SB 514. It appears that there is nothing in this language that would prevent a landman from appearing before the Oklahoma Corporation Commission as an witness and presenting evidence to support his position. However, a landman should not be preparing and initiating the filing of documents with the OCC on behalf of a client, nor represent a client before the Commission. I am not an attorney, and these comments do not constitute legal advice.

    AAPL will be vigilant in monitoring this bill for possible intervention, and will update the membership as the situation warrants.

    Curt Horne, CPL
    Chair - AAPL Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Committee
    (713) 225-6700

  • 4.  RE: AAPL Governmental Affairs Weekly Report - Week of 1/21/19

    Posted 02-05-2019 13:35
    Landmen often deal with and/or are presented with a wide variety of problems/issues from clients that involve contracts, agreements and instruments of conveyance, or that involve operational issues associated with joint operations. We often respond to our clients by providing them with our advice, comments, suggestions, recommendations and opinions for dealing with the problems/issues. In most situations our advice, as landmen, is based upon our knowledge and experience as well as our perception of what we know to be accepted industry customs and practices for dealing with like or similar situations or circumstances.

    I see a law such as the one proposed in Oklahoma as having the potential of being abused and used against landmen in several ways. There are many clients and/or their attorneys who I guarantee will argue, after the fact, that when a landman provided his/her advice, suggestions, opinions, suggestions or recommendations to a client regarding a problem and/or issue, and things didn't turn out the way the client had hoped, that the landman's advice or recommendation will be construed as practicing law without a license.The landman will probably not only be held financially liable to the client, but also face the threat of being locked up in jail. In my opinion, if a client desires legal advice, then the burden should be on the client to seek out a licensed attorney and not the landman's to prove their innocense of the client's accusations.

    In our profession, there is often a fine line between providing advice, opinion, suggestion or recommendation to a client based upon our experiences and/or industry customs and practices versus the practice of law. If the practice of law without a license is addressed through legislation and without protecting landmen's rights to continue to practice our profession by providing advice, comments, suggestions, opinions and recommendations to our clients, then I would hate to predict what will happen next.

    Therefore, in my landman's opinion, AAPL, local landmen's associations and all midcontinent oil and gas-related associations should join together and either strongly oppose this proposed legislation, or see that protection (preservation) language for the land profession is added to it.

    Dorsey Roach CPL
    Oklahoma City OK
    (405) 301-5068

  • 5.  RE: AAPL Governmental Affairs Weekly Report - Week of 1/21/19

    Posted 02-05-2019 14:44
    Thank you for your input, Dorsey.

    AAPL was advised this morning that this bill was designed to target notaries who sell documents related to immigration law. Apparently in Mexico, a "notario" is a type of legal official who can prepare documents in court. In his Immigration law practice, Sen. Brooks sees American notaries who market themselves as "notarios" to Spanish speaking immigrants and offer to sell documents for thousands of dollars that are supposed to be valid in immigration court but in reality have no legal effect. Since filing the bill, Sen. Brooks has heard from a number of groups concerned about unintended consequences of this bill. As a result, he's going to hold it back and try to resolve this "notario" issue with a more specific bill at a later date.

    AAPL will continue to monitor SB 514.

    Curt Horne CPL
    Chair - AAPL Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Committee
    (713) 225-6700

  • 6.  RE: AAPL Governmental Affairs Weekly Report - Week of 1/21/19

    Posted 02-07-2019 17:23

    Very well said!!!  Glad to see that the original bill is being held.

    James Whalon CPL
    Orca Energy Company, LLC
    Kingston OK
    (405) 205-4625

  • 7.  RE: AAPL Governmental Affairs Weekly Report - Week of 1/21/19

    Posted 02-07-2019 17:23
    Thanks for staying on top of this piece of legislation and keeping us informed, Curt.