Countdown to Pierre – oil development and the landowners who deal with it

If you are following the trend of oil and gas development in the United States, South Dakota isn’t really something that comes up very frequently. With exploding oil trains and ruined wheat fields in North Dakota, that might not necessarily be a bad thing. But that isn’t to say there is no oil and gas development going on in South Dakota. There is, and most of it is happening right up in Harding County.

Tim Brown

Oil development creates jobs for some folks who might otherwise not stay in Harding County, but it also has significant impacts on the jobs of the ranchers upon whose backs we develop that oil. The photo above is an aerial photo of DRA member Tim Brown’s land. You can see all the roads and the oil well pads, and you can imagine trying to run sheep or cattle over that land. Imagine, if you’re a farmer or a rancher, having that on your land. And then imagine all the trucks, all the people, all the dust that comes along with it. Then imagine watching the number of livestock you can run on your land going down every year due to more development. And then imagine what that would do to your pocketbook.

South Dakota is a split estate state, meaning most people don’t own the oil underneath their land. Additionally, most people had nothing to do with the severing of their mineral rights (when the land and the oil or other minerals under it were split from each other). Often, people think landowners are compensated just fine for the oil development on their land, because they think those same landowners are getting royalties from the oil. But that is often not the case in South Dakota, so you have people who are bearing the hardships of oil development and losing income every year because of it, and not really making that up in the single payment they get for the well pad.

DRA is working with the Farmer’s Union and the Stockgrowers to bring a solution once again to the legislature. For the past two years, we’ve worked on some potential solutions, but we’re trying to come up with something a little bit new, different, and better for this year. Landowners deserve to be compensated for lost ag production due to oil and gas development. There is no possible way to refute that, especially when over the past five years stock in some of the companies developing in Harding County have grown significantly.

Fair is fair. Oil brings money into South Dakota. And it shouldn’t come at the expense of our ranchers.


  1. Great info Sabrina. I had no idea what ranchers with oil under their land are going through. Thank you for bringing this to our attention, and for working on a legislative solution!

  2. Reblogged this on Mining Awareness Plus.

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