Saturday, January 12, 2008



One of the (many) nice things about British Air is that they offer the Guardian. Yesterday I read it as we were taking off. I came across an interesting story about Forrest Mars, Mars Bar Billionaire Loses Court Battle To Stop Gas Firm Drilling On His Ranch. I'm not prone to feeling sorrow for people who inherit billions of dollars, like Mars did. But something about his case pissed me off. A judge ruled that Mars "could not prevent Pinnacle Gas Resources from drilling on a 10,000-acre lease it holds for the land beneath Mars's Diamond Cross cattle ranch in south-eastern Montana.
"Who the surface owner is should not make any difference, and it didn't today," a Pinnacle attorney, Bryan Wilson, said after the ruling.

...[Mars] is opposed to the drilling because large amounts of underground water are pumped out to access the natural gas. Many farmers view that water as a precious reserve, given the extended drought in the western US.

...An attorney for Mars, Loren O'Toole, said the objective was not to prevent exploration but to ensure that the water could be returned. "The point is, we can't lose all that water and at the same time have no provision to put it back," O'Toole said.

"Forrest has a lot of money, but he's in the same boat as anybody else," Beth Kaeding, chairwoman of the Northern Plains Resource Council, told the Associated Press news agency.

"If you don't own the mineral rights, it doesn't matter how huge your ranch is, how politically powerful you are, how much money you have. Mineral rights trump surface rights."

Something about this ruling stunk. They could ruin his ranch with the drilling. I hope no one owns the land my house is on and decides to drill on it. Mars is 70 and has been a major contributor to the Republican Party. He's donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republicans-- and not a dime to a Democrat-- and has been especially generous to the RNC. I wonder if he's pissed off enough to mend his ways now.

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At 7:44 AM, Blogger john said...

Ever since I moved to Montana in the 70's I thought it was strange that I could buy a house or a piece of land and that there was always a clause in the contract that said the mineral rights did not belong to me. Historically our state has given away its mineral fortune for a song and ended up with nothing but a stinking, toxic hole in the ground to show for it. I'm sure Mr Anonymous Republican blog-boy will be able to put a positive spin on this for his party but that doesn't change the truth of it. These guys would sell their grandmother for a buck.

At 7:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"has been a major contributor to the Republican Party"

Fuck him.

At 9:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to be perfectly clear: Calling Pinnacle Oil "Big Energy" in this instance is a misnomer. The total value of Pinnacle is less than 2% of Mars's net worth. In addition, Mars and his representatives were aware of this potential when they purchased the land because in most western states you are required to view (and usually sign) an acknowledgment of disclosure of mineral rights.


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