Harrisburg attorneys write about PA Supreme Court decision impacting the mining industry

Harrisburg attorneys write about PA Supreme Court decision impacting the mining industry
PA Stances on Dunham Rule Confounds PA Mining Industry
Joel R. Burcat and Andrew Bockis
Law360

Joel R. Burcat, a partner in the Harrisburg office and chair of the Oil and Gas Practice, and Andrew Bockis, a member of the Oil and Gas Practice, wrote this article about how the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s recent decision in Butler v. Charles Powers Estate goes counter to the understanding of the mining industry and is likely to disrupt the mining industry.

The ruling finds that Pennsylvania’s so-called Dunham Rule, which says oil and gas are not “minerals” for private deed purposes, is alive and well. As a result, the decision will not impact the thousands of titles to Marcellus shale gas. But the decision also raises the question of whether the court has gone too far and issued a ruling that will have an impact on the mining industry and those who own “minerals” in Pennsylvania. The reason for this is that Butler also says that for private deeds, minerals include only metallic minerals.

The article concludes that the Supreme Court has preserved the Dunham Rule for oil and gas, but created a problem for other minerals, leaving potential serious consequences for descendents of landowners that have conveyed or reserved minerals who will predictably come forward and assert that the ancestor conveyed only the iron, gold and silver. This will likely open the door to litigation.