Recent News

TLMA Hosts 2021 Statewide Member's Meeting - October 2021

The Texas Land & Mineral Owners Association held the 2021 Statewide Member’s Meeting on Thursday, October 6, 2021 via Zoom Webinar. Thank you to everyone who attended and especially to our sponsors and speakers!


The speakers for this year’s meeting were:


Senator Dawn Buckingham
Jason Modglin – President, Texas Alliance of Energy Producers
Bill Kingman – Law offices of William B. Kingman
Jim Bradbury – James D. Bradbury PLLC
Billy Phenix – TLMA


We would greatly appreciate everyone, even if you did not attend, completing the survey


87th Texas Legislature Continues Marathon Special Sessions - October 2021

During the first called session, members of the House Democratic Caucus left for Washington, D.C. breaking quorum in the Texas House leaving the House unable to conduct business. They remained out of State for the remainder of the session.

Governor Abbott then called a second special session and included all of the first called session issues, as well as appropriating federal funds, public education strategies during COVID-19, modifying election dates for primary elections 2022, and limiting the ability to store and transport high-level radioactive materials in Texas to the call. The second special session began on Saturday, August 7, all but one item passed, and the legislature adjourned on September 2.

On September 20, the Legislature began the third called session – the one we knew was required while in the Regular legislative session. Due to the delayed release of Census data, the legislature was unable to complete the redistricting process during the Regular Legislative session. When Governor Abbott announced the third session, he also added appropriating federals funds, youth sports, vaccine mandates, and dog tethering to the call. Since the session began, Governor Abbott added property tax relief, bail reform, and voting penalties to the call. 

TLMA continues to monitor all legislation during the special sessions. 


Railroad Commission Exceeds Legislative Goal for Plugging Orphaned Wells for the Fifth-Straight Year - September 2021

The RRC announced earlier this month that they plugged 1,453 orphaned wells from September 1, 2020 to August 31, 2021. The goal set by the legislature was 1,400 wells. There are still 7,197 orphaned wells to be plugged.

You can read the full press release here. The full list of orphaned wells can be found here.  


TLMA Joins Landowner and Ag Associations on Letter Urging Congress to Protect Tax Policies - July 2021

In mid July, TLMA joined with many other landowner associations in a letter to urge Congress to protect tax policies that would be detrimental to land and mineral owners. A few of the proposals include changes to:

  • The stepped-up basis
  • Like-kind exchanges
  • Sec. 199A Business Income Deduction

In addition to these landowner tax proposals, Congress has also proposed eliminating the percentage depletion allowance.

Click here to view the letter with Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.

Click here to view an article by Wade Caldwell, National NARO President, and TLMA member.

Click here to view Jack Fleet’s testimony before the Senate Committee on Finance. Jack is the Executive Director of NARO and TLMA member.

Shortly after signing onto the letter with Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, TLMA joined with other industries of Texas and signed onto a letter to leadership with the Texas Farm Bureau.

87th Legislature's First Called Session Begins - July 2021

On July 8, 2021, the 87th Legislature convened for the first called session. The session will last 30 days and include items listed on the call. The initial call was issued on July 7, 2021, but the Governor can add items as he sees necessary.

You can see the list of items and a link to the proclamation in the Governor's press release

Travis County District Court Rules in Allocation Well Permit - May 2021

This week, the Travis County District Court ruled in favor of the mineral owner in the Opiela v. RRC trial court case. They ruled that allocation well permits exceed the Railroad Commission's authority. 

It is expected that the RRC will appeal the ruling. 

You can read TLMA's amicus brief and the ruling for more information. 

Governor Abbott Adds Emergency Items Following Winter Storm - February 2021

Governor Abbott added emergency items for the 87th Legislature following the winter storm this week. Those items include ERCOT reform and winterization of the Texas power system.

For more detailed information on the legislative session, join TLMA today to receive our email updates. 

House Committee Assignments for the 87th Legislature Announced - February 2021

Speaker Dade Phelan announced the House Committee assignments for the 87th Legislature. You can view the assignments by committee or by member. You can find more information on committees on the House website.  Below are the committees TLMA is most likely to work with. 

Energy Resources

Chairman Craig Goldman
Vice Chairman Abel Herrero
Rep. Rafael Anchia
Rep. Tom Craddick
Rep. Drew Darby
Rep. Jake Ellzey
Rep. Charlie Geren
Rep. Tracy O. King
Rep. Ben Leman
Rep. Oscar Longoria
Rep. Ron Reynolds

Land and Resource Management

Chairman Joe Deshotel
Vice Chairman Ben Leman
Rep. Kyle Biedermann
Rep. Dustin Burrows
Rep. Tom Craddick
Rep. Ramon Romero
Rep. Jon E. Rosenthal
Rep. Shawn Thierry
District 68

Natural Resources

Chairman Tracy O. King
Vice Chairman Cody Harris
Rep. Rhetta Andrews Bowers
Rep. Kyle Kacal
Rep. Lyle Larson
Rep. Eddie Lucio, III
Rep. Dennis Paul
Rep. Four Price
Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos
Rep. Armando Walle
Rep. Terry M. Wilson

Governor Abbott gives State of the State Address - February 2021

Last night, Governor Abbott gave his State of the State Address to lay out his emergency items and legislative priorities. Some of his emergency items were not expected and some that were expected were not included. Bills deemed emergency items by the Governor are able to be debated on the floor of either Chamber prior to the constitutionally prohibited 60th legislative day.

Governor Abbott’s emergency items for the 87th legislature are:

  • Expansion of broadband access
  • Preventing cities from defunding police
  • Bail reform – The Damon Allen Act
  • Election integrity
  • Protection from civil liabilities for businesses that operated safely during the pandemic

Other legislative priorities include:

  • Prohibit governmental entity from shutting down religious activities
  • Protection of gun rights
  • Pro-life bills
  • Relax regulations passed during the pandemic, such as alcohol to go and telemedicine
  • Eliminate human trafficking and drug smuggling
  • Fund education at the levels passed during last session
  • Bolster civic education
  • Mental health

Some of these issues have bills already filed.

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick Announces Senate Committees for the 87th Legislative Session - January 2021

On Friday, January 15, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announced the Senate Committee Assignments for the 87th Legislative Session. You can view all the assignments here. TLMA will most closely work with the Natural Resources and Water, Ag, & Rural Development committees. Those members are listed below and can also be found on the 87th Legislature webpage.

Senate Committee on Natural Resources & Economic Development

Chairman Brian Birdwell
Vice Chair Judith Zaffirini
Senator Carol Alvarado
Senator Kelly Hancock
Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa
Senator Lois W. Kolkhorst
Senator Bryan Hughes
Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. 
Senator Kel Seliger

Senate Committee on Water, Agriculture & Rural Affairs

Chairman Charles Perry
Vice Chair Drew Springer
Senator Brandon Creighton
Senator Sarah Eckhardt
Senator Roland Gutierrez
Senator Nathan Johnson
Senator Lois W. Kolkhorst
Senator Beverly Powell
Senator Larry Taylor

TLMA Board Begins Two-Year Term – January 2021

During the 2020 TLMA Statewide Members Meeting, the members elected a new Board and District Representatives that will serve the 2021-2022 calendar years. The Board began their term on January 1, 2021.

Kim McTee, Chairman
Jimmy Broussard, Chairman-Elect
Tom Daniel, Vice Chairman
Trey Scott, Treasurer
John Alexander
Barry Roberts
Carolyn Keenan
Lorin Runnels
George Tanner
Rick Walker
Neal Wilkins

*Chair-elect Jimmy Broussard will begin his term as Chairman on January 1, 2022.

The District Representatives for 2021-2022 are:

Dr. John S. Baen, Denton
Amy Stieren Smiley, San Antonio
Clay C. Cash, Lubbock
Leslie el-Effendi, Dallas

87th Texas Legislature Begins - January 2021

On Tuesday, January 12, 2021 the 87th Texas Legislature convened at noon for their 140-day legislative session. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick will preside over the Senate and Senator Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) was elected President Pro Tempore. Representative Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) was elected the Speaker of the House of Representatives. 

In addition to passing a balanced budget, the Legislature must also pass the political district maps through a process known as "redistricting". As of today, there are 1,439 bills filed. The bill filing deadline is on the 60th day of the legislative session. Other deadlines for session will be determined through passing the rules resolutions that will be done this week. 

The regular session will adjourn on Monday, May 31, 2021. 

Comptroller Glenn Hegar Issues Biennial Revenue Estimate - January 2021

Ahead of each legislative session, the Comptroller issues the Biennial Revenue Estimate (BRE) that provides the legislature with the amount of funds they can appropriate through the budget process for the upcoming biennium. The Texas Legislature is constitutionally required to pass a balanced budget. According to Comptroller Hegar's report, Texas will end the current biennium with a $1 billion deficit and will have $112.5 billion to spend in the 2022-2023 biennium. 

How does this impact you as a land and mineral owner? Certain portions of the budget are statutorily set on how much money they will receive. Whatever is left, is what can be appropriated to the remaining agencies. The Railroad Commission and TCEQ are two agencies that receive the "leftover" funding - especially the well plugging fund. This is why it is critical for TLMA to support the Railroad Commission in their budgeting efforts. The funds appropriated to the well plugging fund could be moved elsewhere if legislators chose to do so. 

You can ready the full 2022-2023 BRE for more specific information. 

TLMA Now Allows Corporate Members - January 2021

During the 2020 TLMA Statewide Members Meeting, the TLMA membership approved a corporate membership for entities that provide services to our members. As of January 1, 2021, TLMA is now accepting corporate members. This new class of membership receives benefits that are only offered to them.

If you or someone you know is interested and thinks they meet the qualifications, please visit or email [email protected] for more information on the benefits of a corporate membership.

Online applications will be available soon or you may send Jennifer Bremer an email to receive an application.

Jim Wright Sworn in as Commissioner of Railroad Commission of Texas - January 2021

On January 4, 2021, Jim Wright was sworn in as the newest commissioner of the Railroad Commission of Texas. He replaces Ryan Sitton and will serve a 6 year term. TLMA looks forward to working with Commissioner Wright in his new capacity!

Press release from the RRC

Fall 2020 Judicial Update - November 2020

Earlier this year, TLMA filed an amicus brief in the Strickhausen (No. 19-0567) case dealing with the ratification of a pooling clause in a lease. The Court heard oral arguments on October 28, 2020. The Supreme Court has not issued an opinion. 

In September, TLMA filed an amicus brief in the Bluestone v. Randle (No. 19-0459) case determining if "gross value received" in a lease addendum conflicts with "at the well" in a printed lease form. Oral arguments were heard on September 17, 2020. An opinion has not been issued. 

The amici can be found on the Texas Supreme Court website or at the following links - Strickhausen and Bluestone


Railroad Commission of Texas Approves Form Changes to Flaring Exception - November 2020 

Earlier this month, the Railroad Commission of Texas proposed form changes to the Application for Exception to Statewide Rule 32 to address concerns with the amount of flaring happening in Texas. These concerns were raised during the proration hearings that happened in April 2020.

The Commissioners approved the rule changes at the November 4 open meeting and the form became effective immediately. Staff is working on an online exception filing system and expect it to go live March 2021. Operators can use the previous system of filing until April 1, 2021.

The R-32 form and attachments can be viewed here

Jim Wright wins General Election to Become Next Railroad Commissioner - November 2020

Last night, Republican Jim Wright won the general election to become the next Commissioner at the Railroad Commission of Texas. Mr. Wright defeated Commissioner Ryan Sitton in the March Republican primary. We look forward to working with Commissioner-Elect Wright in the coming years! 

See below for a statement from Commissioner-Elect Wright. 


"This morning Chrysta Castaneda, the Democratic nominee for Texas Railroad Commission, called to congratulate me on my win for this important seat that will help determine the future of the oil and gas industry in Texas for decades to come.

However, this was not my win. This was a win for Texas and our future, a win for Texas jobs and Texas school children who benefit from the money produced by our energy industry.

We all understand the importance of our industry, and the importance of protecting our environment and I am excited to have the opportunity to work with sitting Commissioners Wayne Christian and Christi Craddick on these issues over the next few years.

Yesterday, Texans sent a message to the radical liberals from New York and California who pumped millions of dollars against conservatives in this race, U.S. House and Senate races and legislative races across our state: Texas is not for sale.

Texans will determine its own energy future … and that is a future that includes an all-of-the-above approach for energy led by fossil fuels and that will help us find new ways to improve our climate, our environment and our economy."


TLMA Hosts 2020 Statewide Members Meeting Virtually - October 2020

The Texas Land & Mineral Owners Association hosted the biennial Statewide Members Meeting on October 8, 2020. Attendees heard presentations on royalty auditing, solar development and leasing, bankruptcy, and water regulations. Additionally, attendees were given an update on the upcoming legislative session by Billy Phenix. 

Chairman Kim McTee conducted the Business Meeting and announced the results of the Board of Directors election, District Representatives election, and the by-law amendment since the vote was conducted by mail. All passed as presented. 

TLMA Responds to Texas House Land and Resource Management Request for Information - August 2020

In light of the ongoing social distancing requirements, the House Land & Resource Management Committee posted a request for information on their interim charges. TLMA responded to interim charge #2 pertaining to the Landowner's Bill of Rights. Our comments focused primarily on the LBoR being a small part of a much larger process and adding information to a single document is not the fix to establishing fairness in the condemnation process.

Two additions that TLMA suggested are :

  • The landowner’s right to challenge the entities authority to condemn land. The LBoR currently only speaks to the award amount.
  • Include information on what property the entity has the legal authority to condemn

You can view our full comments here.  

The House Committee on Land & Resource Management posted all comments filed. You can view the document here

RRC Hears Testimony on Flaring at Open Meeting - June 2020

At the May RRC Open Meeting on prorationing, Chairman Wayne Christian instructed the Blue Ribbon Task Force to continue meeting and bring forth recommendations to reduce flaring in Texas. The Blue Ribbon Task Force (through the Texas Methane & Flaring Coalition) released their report containing recommendations on ways to reduce flaring in Texas. The Commission staff was instructed to review the report and make recommendations for items that can be implemented by this fall and present their findings at the next Commission meeting on August 4, 2020.

The following link is the link to the press release and report by the Texas Methane & Flaring Coalition.

Below are Chairman Christian’s thoughts on the hearing.

TLMA looks forward to hearing what the RRC will propose at next months meeting. 

Court of Appeals Rules for Landowner in Brazoria County Condemnation Case - June 2020 

Last week, the First Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the landowner in Hlavinka v. HSC, finding that HSC cannot use eminent domain to acquire the land for a pipeline easement. The Hlavinkas and HSC could not reach an agreement for the easement, which led to HSC filing condemnation proceedings. The Hlavinkas argued that HSC was not a common carrier, in addition to other things. HSC won at the trial court level, but were successful at the Court of Appeals. 

You can view the full opinion from the Court of Appeals here. TLMA will continue to monitor this case in the event it is appealed to the Texas Supreme Court. 

*UPDATED* RRC of Texas Denies Motion Prorationing Oil Production in Texas, Passes Other Motions – May 2020

The Railroad Commission of Texas denied the motion by Pioneer and Parsley Energy to proration oil production in Texas. To provide other measure to assist operators, the Commission passed the following motions:

  • Waive fees and surcharges for the following forms:
    • P-17 (Application for Permit to Exception to Statewide Rules 26 and/or 27 (Commingling))
    • W-14 (Application to Dispose Oil & Gas Waste by Injection into a Porous Formation Not Productive of Oil or Gas)
    • H-1 (Application to Inject Fluid into a Reservoir Productive of Oil & Gas), H-4 (Application to Create, Operate and Maintain an Underground Hydrocarbon Storage Facility)
    • W-3C (Certification of Surface Equipment Removal for an Inactive Well) for the rest of the calendar year
  • Exception to Statewide Rule 95 (Underground Storage of Liquid or Liquefied Hydrocarbons in Salt Formations) for one year. Crude must be removed in 5 years.
  • Exceptions to Statewide Rule 8(d)(4)(h) – extension of deadline to dewater, backfill and compact authorized pits – expires in one year. Landowner consent is required.
  • Exception to Statewide Rule 13 – Alternative casing and tubing programs – expires in one year
  • Statewide Rule 14(b)(2) – Extends the current 1 year deadline to plug wells to 2 years for wells not producing from March 1, 2020 through March 2021. This exception would not limit the RRC’s authority to require an operator to plug a leaking well
  • 107(b) – Flexibility to RRC Legal enforcement section in assessing penalties for March 2020 – March 2021

There will be a more in-depth article of the impacts to land and mineral owners of the changes in our upcoming newsletter. We will continue to watch for rule changes over the coming months and then for legislative changes at the appropriate times. In addition to the article included in our current newsletter, Ryan Lammert put together this powerpoint on the temporary exceptions.

RRC Considers Prorating Texas Production - April 2020 

For the first time in 50 years, after a motion filed by Parsley Energy and Pioneer, the Railroad Commission of Texas held an open meeting on prorating production across Texas. The motion was filed in late March and a virtual meeting was held on Tuesday, April 14. TLMA filed comments addressing a few of the many issues discussed and Tom Daniel, Vice Chair, gave verbal comments during the 10 hour hearing. 

Because this was a meeting and a hearing has not been held, the Commissioners cannot take a vote. You can view all comments filed here and you can view TLMA's comments here

TLMA Asks Texas Supreme Court to Affirm 4th Court of Appeals Opinion in Strickhausen Case - March 2020

TLMA filed an amicus brief in the BPX v. Strickhausen case (No. 19-0567) relating to ratification of pooling mineral ownership interests. “The issue in this case is whether Respondent ratified Petitioner’s breach of the contractual no pooling clause by accepting royalty checks, after she explicitly objected to the unlawfully pooled unit in writing.” Strickhausen immediately objected to the pooling once she was made aware of the pooling.

Both parties have filed briefs on the merits. The Court has not decided whether to hear oral arguments in the case. You can read the TLMA amicus here and see other court documents here

RRC Approves Rule Allowing for the Multiple Assignment of Acreage – February 2020

At the February 11 Open Hearing, RRC approved rule amendments to Section 3.40 – Assignment of Acreage to Pooled Development and Proration Units. This rule will allow surface acreage to be assigned to more than one horizontal well. While TLMA is supportive of this change, we filed formal comments asking for unleased mineral owners to receive notice in addition to the operators. The rule requires unleased mineral owners to be notified if the operator does not meet the requirements for multiple assignment of acreage but is seeking an exemption. TLMA asked for this across the board. The Commission declined to make the change because Section 3.40 “addresses acreage assignment and acreage can only be assigned by an operator”.

TLMA also filed more detailed comments during the informal process. You can read the formal comments here and the informal comments here.

TLMA Celebrates 20th Anniversary - December 2019

On December 3, 1999, TLMA was incorporated in the State of Texas. What began as 54 concerned land and mineral owners has flourished into an association of nearly 1,000 members. We are so proud of the past 20 years and look forward to the next 20! Our first 20 years include:

  • 11 Legislative Sessions
  • 79 Newsletters Published
  • 254 Counties Represented by Membership
  • 3.5 Million Mineral Acres Represented by Membership
  • 1 Million Surface Acres Represented by Membership
  • Countless Emails Sent

In addition to all of the above, we hosted town hall meetings, began hosting regional meetings, filed amicus briefs, and comments on Railroad Commission rule proposals. We hope that you will join us in our advocacy efforts in the next 20 years! If you haven’t joined, we encourage you to do so today!

TLMA Files Amicus Letter in Support of Supreme Court Decision for 

In June, the Texas Supreme Court decided the Barrow-Shaver v. Carrizo farmout agreement case in favor of Carrizo, which TLMA supported with an amicus brief in November 2018. In August, Barrow-Shaver filed a motion for rehearing in the case. TLMA filed a letter of support of the Court’s decision and asked they not rehear the case. In the motion for rehearing, Barrow-Shaver relies on Dwyer v. City of Brenham, 7 S.Wl 598, 599 (Tex. 1888) and TLMA does not believe that case applies in Barrow-Shaver v. Carrizo.

You can read the letter here.

TLMA Files Amicus Brief Defending the Original Intent of the "Division Order" Statute - September 2019 

In September, TLMA filed an amicus brief in the ConocoPhillips v. Ramirez Supreme Court case. TLMA argues that the Court of Appeals correctly held that ConocoPhillips is required to pay prejudgement interest and affirmed that award of attorney's fees. 

In this case, ConocoPhillips claims to withhold payment for a title dispute as allowed by the Natural Resources Code. However, the Natural Resources Code allows for withholding only if it is a legitimate title dispute, and TLMA does not believe the dispute ConocoPhillips initially ignored in 1997 is legitimate. According to the Bill Analysis from when the division order statute was passed, the House Committee on Energy noted there was "no law specifically protecting Texas royalty owners from deliberate delay of their royalty checks." This law was passed to protect mineral owners. 

Oral arguments were held on September 17. You can read the brief here and find the case documents here.  

Texas Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Electrical Easement Case

Earlier this year, TLMA joined with the South Texans’ Property Rights Association, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas, Texas Forestry Association, Texas Wildlife Association, Texas Poultry Federation, Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., and Texas Corn Producers Association in filing a brief supporting the landowners in the overreach of using “blanket easements” in the SWEPCO v. Lynch et. Al case. The Texas Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.

Oral arguments have been set for December 5, 2019. You can watch them live on the Texas Bar Association website.

You can read the brief TLMA filed for more information and find all case documents on the Texas Supreme Court website.


Texas Supreme Court rules in Barrow-Shaver v. Carrizo Farmout Agreement Case – June 2019

In November 2018, TLMA filed an amicus brief in the Barrow-Shaver v. Carrizo Supreme Court case on the consent to assign clause in a farmout agreement. TLMA agreed with Carrizo’s position because landowner’s use the consent to assign clause in their oil and gas leases to protect their land. The Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals decision in favor of Carrizo. The Court stated that the language in the contract is “unambiguous” and “the contract imposed no consent obligation on Carrizo and that Carrizo’s right to withhold consent is unqualified.”

You can read TLMA’s letter to the Court here.

Also available are the opinion and dissent.

86th Legislative Session Adjourns – May 2019

On May 27, 2019, the 86th Legislature adjourned sine die – meaning until the 87th legislature begins in January 2021. However, just because session has ended, doesn’t mean the work will stop until next session. The regulatory agencies will begin rulemaking proceedings to implement the legislation that was passed, committees will begin to develop requests for interim charges, Sunset hearings will begin, and much more. Once the Lt. Governor and Speaker release their interim charges, the Committees will then begin to have hearings on those topics.

During this session, TLMA passed HB 3838 by Representative Ernest Bailes (Sponsored by Chairman Brian Birdwell) and prevented other harmful legislation from passing. For more details on the successes of our legislative efforts, see the latest newsletter.

TLMA Executive Director Testifies in Front of Senate Finance - January 2019

TLMA Executive Director, Jennifer Bremer, testified before the Senate Finance Committee in late January on the Railroad Commission of Texas' budget requests. One specific ask was for funding to plug orphan wells. The RRC received over $30 million in the current biennium and are asking for approximately the same amount. The RRC was able to plug a substantial amount of wells because they received this money up front. 

Bremer also testified in support of funds that will continue to help make technology upgrades at the RRC. Through these funds, the Commission has made more valuable information for landowners available on their website. 

If you have any questions on the testimony given, please email Jennifer directly at [email protected]

TLMA Files Comments in Proposed Surface Commingling Rule - January 2019

Earlier this month, TLMA filed comments on a rule that would change one of the exemptions for surface commingling. In addition to the exception change, the rule would create a new form and notice requirements to unidentified royalty owners. TLMA expressed it's concern that if commingling is allowed on leases that are held by the same owner at the same ownership percentage, one lease could be held by the production of another. 

TLMA did not have any objections to the change in notice requirements. 

You can read our full comments here.  

TLMA Board Approves New Officers – January 2019

On January 23 at the quarterly TLMA Board of Directors meeting, the Directors voted to approve the following slate of officers for the coming years.

Chairman Carolyn Frost Keenan, Houston

Chairman-Elect Kimberley K. McTee, San Antonio

Vice Chairman Thomas H. “Tom” Daniel, Austin

Treasurer E.O. “Trey” Scott, III, San Antonio

Pursuant to the by-law changes adopted by members at the 2018 Statewide Member’s Meeting, the Chairman and Chairman-elect terms will end January 2020 and the Vice Chairman and Treasurer terms expire January 2021.

In addition to new officers, the newly elected District Representatives began their terms. We welcome Amy Smiley and Lorin Runnels to the District Representatives and look forward to working with all of these individuals in the years to come!

TLMA joins landowner associations in electric utility easement brief – December 2018

Southwest Electric Power Company v. Lynch et al impacts utilities rights to a “blanket easement” that SWEPCO had for electric transmission and distribution lines. SWEPCO notified the landowners 65 years after the signing of the easement that they would be rebuilding the line and would like a supplemental easement. After declining the supplemental easement, SWEPCO claimed a 100 foot easement that contained a house and pond that had been there for over forty years. The respondents were then sued for breach of easement and trespass.

It has not been determined if the Court will take this case.

TLMA, South Texan’s Property Rights Association, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas, Texas Forestry Association, Texas Wildlife Association, Texas Poultry Federation, Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., and Texas Corn Producers Association all signed onto the brief.

You can read the document here.


RRC asks for comments on assignment of acreage; TLMA files comments – November 2018

Earlier this year, the RRC informally proposed a rulemaking to Rule 40 – Assignment of Acreage to Pooled Development and Proration Units. This informal rule would allow acreage at different depths to be leased separately. The rule would also require notice to be given to unleased mineral owners in addition to the operators. While the timelines don’t allow adequate time for mineral owners to request a hearing, TLMA is supportive of the notice provision.

You can read more about the rule and TLMA’s thoughts in the letter to the Commissioners.

TLMA files a brief in farmout agreement Supreme Court case – November 2018

TLMA filed a brief in support of Carrizo Oil & Gas in the Barrow-Shaver Resources v. Carrizo Oil & Gas Inc. farmout agreement case. The primary issue at hand for TLMA members is the consent requirement in the agreement because similar provisions can be found in many oil and gas leases. As stated in the brief “..not all oil and gas operators exercise the same level of diligence, many land and mineral owners view restrictions on assignability as a very important issue in their oil and gas lease negotiations, especially if the lessor is also the owner of the surface estate of the leased premises…It is therefore important for the landowner to know who will be operating on its property and to have some say in the assignment of those rights and liabilities to another operator.” The Tyler Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Carrizo and TLMA is asking for the Supreme Court to affirm that decision.

Oral arguments were held December 4. You can read TLMA’s letter here.

TLMA joins NARO-TX, oil and gas attorneys in support for a motion for rehearing in drainage case – July 2018

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Texas decided the Murphy v. Adams case in favor of Murphy. Because of the potential significant impact to longstanding practices with offset wells and drainage, TLMA joined NARO-TX and a number of oil and gas attorneys in requesting a motion for rehearing.

The Supreme Court rejected the motion for rehearing, but did correct their opinion.

You can read the amicus letter and the corrected opinion and dissent for more details.

TLMA Has Significant Impact on Withdrawal of Rulemaking at Railroad Commission of Texas - June 2018

Railroad Commission of Texas Chairman Christi Craddick proposed the next rule changes as part of the Texas Oilfield Relief Initiative earlier this month. The proposed rule would still require the initial well potential test, but would eliminate the annual well tests for oil wells that are reported on the Form W-10 except in the following circumstances:

  • the well is recompleted into a different regulatory field;
  • the well is reclassified from gas to oil;
  • the well is an inactive well and the operator resumes production from the well;
  • necessary to reinstate an allowable; or
  • required by Commission order, special field rule, or other Commission rule.

TLMA submitted comments and also encouraged our members to do the same. After the comment deadline, TLMA was invited to a meeting with commission staff. Our meeting was successful and the Chairman agreed to withdraw the proposal. In her comments while formally withdrawing the rule proposal at an open meeting, Chairman Craddick stated that while the purpose of the initiative is to eliminate the collection of information that is not being used by the RRC, it is clear that the public and industry use the information received from the annual well test.

Thank you to those of our members who submitted comments. They made an impact.

You can read TLMA’s comments here.

Texas Supreme Court Issues Opinion in Murphy v. Adams - June 2018

The Supreme Court issued an opinion and dissenting opinion in the Murphy v. Herbst offset well case. The case was decided 5-4 in Murphy’s favor. The opinion stated that the lease was ambiguous to the location of the offset well because it didn’t contain a “proximity requirement” and that they “do not read into the lease more stringent obligations than the parties intend.” The dissent stated that the lease required Murphy to drill an offset well “reasonably located” to protect against drainage.

As mentioned in a previous news post, TLMA’s brief asked the Court to uphold the Court of Appeals and recognize the definition of and purpose of an offset well. In its brief, TLMA asserts that an offset well, by its commonly understood definition, is meant to protect against drainage. A company cannot simply drill a well anywhere on the lease and call it an offset well; it must show evidence that the well is actually offsetting drainage by the neighboring well.

You can read the opinion here and the dissent here. The TLMA amicus brief can be viewed here.

TLMA Files Brief in Case that Would Change Post-Production Cost Deductions for Many Leases - April 2018

The Supreme Court has granted the petition for review in the Burlington v. Texas Crude case on post-production costs, which is the first case on this issue since Chesapeake v. Hyder. The Burlington v. Texas Crude case deals with the issue of post-production costs in an overriding royalty interest situation.

TLMA and NARO-TX jointly filed a brief in this case asking the Supreme Court to deny the petition and allow the decision made by the Court of Appeals to stand. The Supreme Court granted the petition. Oral arguments have not been set, but TLMA will post when the date and time are determined.

You can view the amicus brief here 

TLMA Files Brief in Case that Would Impact Shut-In Royalty Clause - August 2017

TLMA filed an amicus curiae brief in BP America v. Red Deer Resources asking the Court to grant the motion for rehearing filed by Red Deer Resources LLC. A trial jury ruled in favor of Red Deer regarding the date that the well was not “capable of producing”. The case made it all the way to the Texas Supreme Court where the Court found in favor of BP America. The Supreme Court decided June 4, the last day the well produced, was the date the shut-in clause would go into effect and the lessor is required to prove that a well is “incapable of production in paying quantities”. In its brief, TLMA asserts that the “operative date for determining a well’s capability to produce gas” is incorrect and it is “inconsistent with the intent and purpose of the shut-in royalty clause” to place that requirement on a lessor.

You can read TLMA’s brief here

Bill Protecting Open-Space Landowners Signed into Law - June 2017

Governor Abbott signed HB 3198 - a bill authored by Rep. Drew Darby and sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Craig Estes. The bill protects landowners from a recent trend in a few Texas counties - the county tax appraiser carves out bits of acreage used for oil pad sites on larger agricultural parcel of land, removes the ag exemption from that carve-out, taxes the land at market value, and charges the landowner with 5 years of rollback taxes plus interest. HB 3198 provides that as long as the surrounding land continues to qualify for an open-space exemption, the well pad site does not lose its eligibility for the same.

You can find the history and text of HB 3198 here.

Texas Supreme Court Decides Contamination Case and Preserves Landowner Rights - April 2017

The Court has issued its ruling in Forest Oil v. El Rucio Land & Cattle Co. and denied the oil company's claim that the Texas Railroad Commission should have exclusive jurisdiction over oilfield contamination claims. The Court's decision preserves your rights and remedies, including filing a lawsuit for damages in a court of law. This news comes as a big relief for Texas landowners. A decision that the Railroad Commission controlled all contamination claims would have subjected landowners to first go through the lengthy process of seeking relief and remediation through the Commission, and it would have nullified carefully-negotiated surface use agreements between landowners and oil companies.

You can read the Court's decision here.

TLMA Files Brief in Case that Could Affect the Power of Offset Provisions in Mineral Owners' Leases - March 2017

TLMA filed an amicus curiae brief in Murphy Oil v.  Herbst asking the Court to uphold the Court of Appeals and recognize the definition of and purpose of an offset well. When a well drilled on a neighboring lease triggered the offset clause of the Herbsts' lease, Murphy Oil claimed that a well it drilled at the far opposite side of the property from the neighbor's well counted as the required offset well. In its brief, TLMA asserts that an offset well, by its commonly understood definition, is meant to protect against drainage. A company cannot simply drill a well anywhere on the lease and call it an offset well; it must show evidence that the well is actually offsetting drainage by the neighboring well.

You can read TLMA's brief here.

TLMA Jointly Files Brief In Support of Landowners in Oilfield Contamination Case - March 2017

TLMA recently filed an amicus curiae brief jointly with South Texans’ Property Rights Association, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Texas Farm Bureau, Texas Wildlife Association, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, Landowner Coalition of Texas, and Texas Forestry Association in Forest Oil v. El Rucio Land & Cattle Co. The case is critical for landowners in Texas because an unfavorable decision by the Court could strip rights and remedies from landowners faced with contamination by oil and gas companies. In an effort to avoid an expensive arbitration decision, the oil and gas company now argues before the Supreme Court that the Railroad Commission ("RRC") should have exclusive jurisdiction over all oilfield contamination claims. A court decision finding the RRC has exclusive jurisdiction would nullify carefully-negotiated surface-agreement contract terms for clean-up and remediation, forcing claims through the RRC process and subject to RRC standards for remediation with no option for necessary monetary damages.

You can read the brief filed by TLMA, et al, here.

Supreme Court of Texas Sides with Pipeline Company in Denbury Green v. Texas Rice Land Partners - January 2017

In a disappointing decision for landowners, the Supreme Court of Texas today published its decision in a case for which TLMA filed an amicus brief supporting the landowners - Denbury Green v. Texas Rice Land Partners. The Court addressed the question of whether or not Denbury Green was entitled to exercise eminent-domain authority as a common carrier when it condemned land to build a pipeline to transport its CO2 to Texas for tertiary oil recovery operations. 

This is the second time the Court has heard this case. In 2012, the Court found that Denbury did not merit common-carrier status simply by checking the common carrier box on a T-4 application from the Railroad Commission. It remanded the case back to the trial court to determine whether there was a reasonably probability that Denbury's pipeline would serve the public. The trial court granted Denbury summary judgement, but the Court of Appeals overturned the decision, focusing on Denbury's intended use for the pipeline at the time it began planning to build. Denbury appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court rejected the appellate court’s notion that it should consider Denbury’s intent at the time it began planning to construct the pipeline. Instead, the Court found Denbury’s contracts to transport CO2 entered into after the pipeline was built (and in the case of the only contract that is truly independent of Denbury, entered into after the Court issued its first Denbury opinion in 2012) evidenced a “reasonable probability” that the pipeline would serve the public. It also found that the pipeline’s route in proximity to other CO2 shippers supported a probability of future public use.

In addition, the Court stated that the court of appeals got it wrong by requiring a common-carrier pipeline serve a substantial public interest. The Supreme Court held that “evidence establishing a reasonable probability that the pipeline will, at some point after construction, serve even one customer unaffiliated with the pipeline owner is substantial enough to satisfy public use.”

You can read the Court's opinion written by Justice Green here, and you can read the amicus curiae briefs filed by TLMA here and here.