North Dakota Land Owners have a Right to the Restoration of Salt Contaminated Lands
In its first sentence, the Eminent Domain Provision of North Dakota’s Constitution’s Declaration of Rights states, “Private property shall not be taken or damaged for public use without just compensation…” Based on three successful Constitutional and Public Trust Cases against the state of North Dakota , the Salt Contaminated Land and Water Council (SCLWC) believes that the Eminent Domain Provision of North Dakota’s Constitution, Public Trust Doctrine and case law requires compensation for any damage to private property, and thus exposes the State of North Dakota to liability for the North Dakota Industrial Commission’s failure to enforce environmental rules and statutes that require the cleanup and reclamation of salt contamination on temporarily abandoned well sites. It is the contention of the SCLWC that, the State of North Dakota has promulgated existing statutes and rules that require salt contamination impaired lands to be reclaimed to their original conditions and that these statues and rules are based on sound scientific principles and engineering best practices. The SCLWC further contends that for decades the state of North Dakota has improperly allowed oil and gas operators exemptions from liability for failure to contain and cleanup salt water spills on temporarily abandoned well sites. Thus it is SCLWCs belief that it can bring a successful case against the state of North Dakota for salt damage done consequent of the state’s decades of non-enforcement. After winning a declaration of liability the SCLWC intends to seek mandatory relief against all parties in the chain of title for each abandoned well.
Fintan Dooley Bio:
Fintan Dooley is a land, mineral rights and public trust attorney and environmental activist based in Bismarck, ND, but might be better described as an explorer and seeker of justice.
Dooley is a coordinator for the Salted Land and Water Council, Inc. (“SLC”). SLC’s mission is to prompt comprehensive remediation of salt contaminated land and water and to enable that process through legislation and/or litigation. To accomplish this mission, SLC educates surface and mineral owners, legislators and persons interested in stewardship of land and water about oilfield produced water, its adverse impact on land and water consequent to its mismanagement, means and methods to restore salt-impacted land and water, and legal remedies available to effect such restoration. In addition, SLC assists surface owners in forming alliances to successfully pursue remediation of salt-impacted land and water.
Dooley’s educational and work background are eclectic. In addition to being a lawyer, Dooley has worked as a hard rock miner, and oilfield worker, paratrooper, Syrian-Arabic linguist, anthropologist, agriculturalist, medical missionary, civil rights worker, commercial fisherman, fisheries biologist, international relations scholar, sculptor, science teacher and track coach. He studied faith and morals with two Catholic Orders, the Crozier Fathers and the Columban Fathers before graduating with a degree in botany and chemistry from North Dakota State University in 1968. After his service in the U. S. Army, Dooley earned his JD degree from the University of North Dakota in 1975 and his M. Ed. from Lesley University in 2005.
Dooley’s interest in the oil industry began when he was a third-grader in the 1950s. At that time, he lived in Belfield, ND where he watched some of the Williston Basin’s first oil wells being drilled near Fryburg. In 1968, he worked on two high gas pressure wells south of Gillette, WY. Both of these wells experienced environmental misadventures. One blew out, while the other’s evaporation pit overflowed during a thunderstorm pouring salt and chemicals into an adjoining creek. Later Dooley served as an oilfield worker both onshore and offshore in LA.