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AGO 1953 No. 32 - May 05, 1953
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

OIL AND GAS PERMITS ‑- TIDELANDS ‑-TIDELANDS ‑- SHOOTING GROUNDS.

A permit to prospect and explore second-class tidelands in Snohomish and Island Counties within the limits prescribed by chapter 161, Laws of 1937, RCW 78.28.020 (the same not being proven territory) may be granted, notwithstanding the provisions of chapter 179, Laws of 1945, RCW 77.40.070, and chapter 77, Laws of 1951, RCW 77.40.090.

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                                                                    May 5, 1953

Honorable Otto A. Case
Commissioner of Public Lands
Public Lands-Social Security Bldg.
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 32

 Attention: Mr. Sether

Dear Sir:

             On receipt of your letter of April 27th we examined your files numbered 3806, 3808, 3812 and 3815 and found them to be applications for permission to explore second-class tidelands in Snohomish and Island Counties for the presence of petroleum.

             The question presented is whether you may grant the permission in view of chapter 179, Laws of 1945, RCW 77.40.070, and chapter 77, Laws of 1951, RCW 77.40.090.

             You are advised:

             A permit to prospect and explore second-class tidelands in Snohomish and Island Counties within the limits prescribed by chapter 161, Laws of 1937, RCW 78.28.020 (the same not being proven territory), may be granted, notwithstanding the provisions of chapter 179, Laws of 1945, RCW 77.40.070, and chapter 77, Laws of 1951, RCW 77.40.090.

              [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

                                                                     ANALYSIS

          By chapter 179, Laws of 1945, RCW 77.40.070, certain second-class tidelands in Skagit and Snohomish Counties may be, and by chapter 77, Laws of 1951, RCW 77.40.090, certain second-class tidelands in Skagit, Snohomish and Island Counties are, withdrawn from sale and lease, with certain exceptions, and if so withdrawn are then available for use as public shooting grounds under the direction and control of the State Game Commission.

            It has never been the policy of the state to dispose of the mineral rights in disposing of land, and the legislature did not intend by enacting either of the foregoing laws to prevent the Commissioner of Public Lands from permitting the prospecting of any state lands for petroleum purposes, if in his judgment the best interests of the state will be served by so doing.  RCW 78.28.030.

             Should exploration of any lands upon which a permit is granted result in the discovery of petroleum in commercial quantities, the permittee would then be entitled to a lease (RCW 78.28.040), but the commissioner is authorized to insert in any permit granted or in any lease, should the land thereafter be found productive, such terms as may be necessary to protect the rights of the state and the owners of the surface of the land and still allow the state the benefit of unit operations provided for in RCW 78.28.110 in conformance with chapter 146, Laws of 1951, chapter 78.52 RCW.

             The Commissioner of Public Lands still has the power to permit second-class tidelands in Snohomish and Island Counties to be prospected for petroleum purposes.

             A copy of this opinion is being sent to the Honorable John A. Biggs, Director of the Department of Game.

 Very truly yours,
DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General 

E. P. DONNELLY
Assistant Attorney General

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