Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

July 15, 2013

Landowners should find out how to retrieve mineral rights

— Garrett County is probably the most mineral rich county in Maryland, Allegany County being the next in line. Right now it seems the focus is on natural gas and of course there has always been coal.

However, Minerals as defined by The Maryland Dormant Mineral Statute Environmental Law 15201(c), includes: gas, oil and oil shale, coal, gaseous liquid and solid hydrocarbons, cement materials and building stone, chemical substances, gemstone, metallic, fissionable and nonfissionable ores, colloidal and other clay, steam and geothermal resources.

The point being, the land owner who does not have their mineral rights risks the real possibility that a mineral owner could enter upon their land to mine, quarry or pit any of the minerals included under the Maryland Dormant Mineral Statute.

In the case of Department of Forests and Parks, et al. v. George’s Creek Coal and Land Company (250 Md 125), that right was upheld.

In the case, Maryland’s highest court ruled that George’s Creek Coal and Land company had the right to enter the state’s land to both mine and remove the minerals, including the right to strip mine.

Quoting, Judge J. McWilliams, who wrote the opinion for the court, “Unless the appellants (the state) and the appellee (the company) can come to terms in respect of compensation to the Company for the surrender of its mineral rights, our decision in this case will result in the scarification and uglification of most of the upper eastern face of Big Savage Mountain.”

I know for a fact that there are clay pits, sand pits, stone quarries, gravel quarries and limestone quarries in the county. I grew up in Garrett County and as kids we played in a sand pit. One summer I worked in a stone quarry.

The land owners in Garrett or Allegany counties who do not have their minerals need to protect themselves from having a strip mine, a quarry or a pit of some type on their land by contacting an attorney to discuss how to get their mineral rights back under the Dormant Mineral Statute.

Jim Braskey

Frostburg

 

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