SB 445 - Legislation which will create a period of time in determining when an owner has officially abandoned their mineral rights. Currently, landowners across the state are facing the dilemma of owning surface rights, but not owning his or her mineral rights. Furthermore, the subsurface owner of the mineral rights may not even know they are the owner. Ultimately, this abandonment is an obstacle for the current landowner who would like to use their property for the development of natural gas.
My legislation would deem mineral rights in real property abandoned after a period of 21 years of nonuse of the mineral rights by a subsurface owner. Nonuse of mineral rights is the absence of an issuance of a permit to drill a well by the Department of Environmental Protection, actual production or withdrawal of minerals from the property and the underground storage of minerals. If the subsurface landowner chooses to simply not develop the mineral rights, they could record a claim of interest with the county Recorder of Deeds within three months of the effective date of this legislation or 21 years from the nonuse, whichever is later. The 21year period is similar to current Pennsylvania abandonment law relating to adverse possession.