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Landowners Sue North Dakota Over Amalgamation Laws

BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) – The Northwest Landowners Association (NWLA) is suing the state of North Dakota and the Industrial Commission over amalgamation laws.

The first thing the NWLA takes issue with is the language used for compensating state landowners after their land is taken. The North Dakota Constitution says, “Private property shall not be taken or damaged for public use without just compensation.” But the section of the law they’re suing about replaces “just compensation” with “equitable compensation.” They say that’s not the same thing.

“Equitable compensation is not a constitutional phrase. Equitable compensation is not the constitutional ‘just compensation’ that is required in order for the taking of private property, so it’s just a word they made up,” said Derrick Braaten, attorney for NWLA.

The second challenge is about amalgamation: the law says, if a company would like to store something like liquid CO2 in an underground pore space, they only have to obtain the consent of 60% of the landowners who own that pore space, and if they do so, the Industrial Commission can grant them permission to overtake the pore space for their purposes.

The NWLA previously sued the state over a bill passed in 2019 that authorized access to a landowner’s pore space by third parties without just compensation. They won that lawsuit.

Source: KFYR TV