Indiana Farm Bureau Working to Protect Landowners’ Subsurface Property Rights

by | Feb 17, 2022 | Indiana Agriculture News, News Feed

Indiana Farm Bureau members from Marshall County met with Governor Eric Holcomb on Thursday. Photo courtesy of the Indiana Farm Bureau Facebook page.

Indiana Farm Bureau remains active at the statehouse as the legislative session continues. Moving to the top of their priority list for this session are two bills they oppose that would change the description of the carbon sequestration pilot project near Terre Haute. House Bill 1249 has passed the House and is now being considered in the Senate. Senate Bill 265 passed the Senate and is now being considered in the House.

Jeff Cummins, associate director of policy engagement for INFB, explains what is a complicated issue.

“The long and short of it is, is that the bill would allow the West Terre Haute facility that wants to manufacture hydrogen capture their CO2, pipe the CO2 to injection wells over in Vigo and Vermilion counties, and then inject that CO2 3,000 to 4,000 feet into the subsurface pore space.”

Cummins says they oppose the bill because the project comes at the expense of landowners.

“It’s at the expense of their pore space property rights. Like coal, oil, natural gas, that our members have said, and the common law holds, that pore space rights are retained to the landowner. Now, there are some states that have gone differently than that. A few state courts have ruled that pore space rights can be cut off at a certain level and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has said something similar, but we’re the Seventh Circuit, and our state courts haven’t ruled on the matter. So, from our perspective, both legally and from a policy standpoint, the state should continue to respect those subsurface pore space rights.”

Cummins urges Farm Bureau members to reach out to their state legislators to let them know you oppose House Bill 1249 and Senate Bill 265.

“This is a property rights concern foundational to the country but also to Indiana Farm Bureau. So, we’re asking members to let their legislators know we’ve attempted compromise, have not gained traction on the ideas we’ve offered, and so now we still have to oppose those bills.”

Cummins goes into more detail on these complicated bills and touches on other priorities for INFB at the statehouse this year in the full HAT interview below.

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