The Wyoming Legislature, recognizing the harshness of the eminent domain remedy and the oppressive strength of the oil and gas industry in the State, has provided a partial fix by legislatively attempting to protect owner rights. How this legislation will work in the long run is open to question. But in the short run, owners will have protections that did not previously exist.
CHEYENNE — Landowner advocates and the oil and gas industry remain at odds over a coming state law that adds protections for property owners during eminent domain cases.
The Legislature approved Senate File 118 during the past session.
The legislation places the burden of proof on developers or government entities to show why their request to use eminent domain to claim someone else’s property is justified. Failing that, it allows a judge to dismiss a condemnation case without prejudice.
It also forces the group seeking to condemn property to pay landowners’ legal fees if a judge determines it did not offer them a fair value for the property.
The new law has the potential to impact pipeline or other energy projects in the state. But there remains much disagreement over who stands to benefit or lose once it takes effect on July 1.
Jim Magagna, executive vice president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, said the change should be a win-win for property owners and industries or other entities that rely on eminent domain to move forward on infrastructure projects.