Southwestern Law Journal
Stability and certainty of land titles encourages development of mineral resources and means individuals need not resort to judiciary for interpretation. Unfortunately, uncertainty prevails because Texas courts complicate the interpretive process and frequently need the assistance of nonlegal sources for comparison, explanation, and enlightenment. Clarity demands that courts adopt a definition of the “ordinary and natural meaning” test similar to that proposed by Dean Eugene Kuntz; burying the surface destruction test by retroactively applying the former.
The surface destruction test produced a title examiner’s nightmare. Despite the Texas Supreme Court’s determination to rectify this in Moser v. United Steel Corp. (Moser II), the current state of Texas law on “oil, gas, and other minerals” clauses resemble the famous, yet confusing comedy routine, “Who’s on First?” by Abbott and Costello. This fact is tragic, rather than comic. It is time the Texas Supreme Court determine once and for all “who owns what” and “what is what” so that title examiners and other interested parties can stop exclaiming “I don’t know.”
Laura H. Burney, “Oil, Gas, and Other Minerals” Clauses in Texas: Who’s on First?, 41 SW L.J. 695 (1987).