I’m Wayne Lax from, originally, Detroit, Michigan. We moved to Wyoming in 1999 and have been here ever since. We had no knowledge or background on split estates and mineral rights. So, when we bought our house in 2000, we bought a five-acre place near to town, and we’re happy as hell. We love it out here. We’re on top of a hill and it’s a beautiful view, the mountains and the valley around us.
Somewhere around 2010, a land man came knocking on our door and, you know, asked about doing seismic testing on our land. About the same time Paul Cook, the founder of the Cheyenne Area Landowners Coalition, had an article in the paper where he was interviewed, under same circumstance as mine about a mile up the road from where we lived.
That’s when we first were kind of pushed out our cocoon and exposed to all this oil and gas stuff.
We were informed by Alex Bowler, who was the treasurer at the time of Cheyenne Area Landowners Coalition, that he was contacted by a lady that lives just up the road from me about them potentially fracking underneath a huge subdivision, of hundreds of homes and four or five hundred kids at an elementary school. They were pretty vociferous. So we tried to gather information, gather decision-makers, get the press involved, and help stage a meeting with those people and got the thing pretty well shut down.
Although at our meeting, I point-blank asked the state Oil and Gas Commissioner Mark Watson what is the status of those permits, because Ward Petroleum stated unequivocally that they’ve withdrawn these applications for a permit to drill and that it’s just not the case. They are still with the Oil and Gas Commission, but the commissioners have chosen not to move on them at all because they feel they don’t meet the criteria that they want to approve these permits for reasons they haven’t really made too much public about. They just say they don’t meet the criteria.
The other thing that Mr. Watson said to me after the meeting is that if a well meets their criteria, they just approve it. There’s not too much gray area to them. Everything that gets thrown in front of them, they pretty much meet their criteria because the best interest of the mineral owners is what they represent.
There’s so much negative surrounding all this, but I do feel that there are some really passionate and caring people that are your ally and it takes a little bit of looking around to find out who that is and really the biggest one I know is the Powder River Basin Resource Council because they represent little people in the big battle and that’s what this is.
We’re just homeowners. We don’t have the hammer in all of this. We don’t have strong representation on our own, but Powder River’s been going up against big companies and corporations in fighting the legal battle, the legislative battle for decades. They’ve got legal experts. They’ve got field experts, and they’ve got access to more than that.
So I was excited beyond words when Cheyenne Area Landowners Coalition allied themselves as an affiliate with Powder River Basin Resource Council and ultimately with the Western Organization of Resource Councils. We feel like you’re not in this alone. You’ve got some people that are listening to you and fighting with you.