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You can search the entire site. or go to the recent opinions, or the chronological or subject indices. In re: Cook Inlet Energy, LLC, Charles Gebhardt, Trustee for the Miller Energy Resources Creditors' Liquidation Trust v. Carol Inman, d/b/a Starichkof Enterprises, All American Oilfield, LLC v. Cook Inlet Energy, LLC (8/9/2019) sp-7395

In re: Cook Inlet Energy, LLC, Charles Gebhardt, Trustee for the Miller Energy Resources Creditors' Liquidation Trust v. Carol Inman, d/b/a Starichkof Enterprises, All American Oilfield, LLC v. Cook Inlet Energy, LLC (8/9/2019) sp-7395

         Notice:  This opinion is subject to correction before publication in the PACIFIC REPORTER .  

         Readers are requested to bring errors to the attention of the Clerk of the Appellate Courts,  

         303 K Street, Anchorage, Alaska 99501, phone (907) 264-0608, fax (907) 264-0878, email  


ALL AMERICAN OILFIELD, LLC,                             )  

                                                        )   Supreme Court Nos. S-16974/17043  

                          Plaintiff and                 )   (Consolidated)  

                          Appellant,                    )  

                                                        )   U.S. Dist. Court No. 3:17-cv-00127-SLG  

         v.                                             )   Bankruptcy Adv. No. 16-90002-GS  


COOK INLET ENERGY, LLC,                                 )   O P I N I O N  


                          Defendant and                 )   No. 7395 - August 9, 2019  

                          Appellee.                     )  

IN RE:  COOK INLET ENERGY, LLC,                         )  


                          Debtor,                       )   Bankruptcy No. 15-00236-GS  

                                                        )   Bankruptcy Adv. No. 17-90041-GS  

CHARLES GEBHARDT, TRUSTEE                               )  

FOR THE MILLER ENERGY                                   )  

RESOURCES CREDITORS'                                    )  

LIQUIDATION TRUST,                                      )  


                          Plaintiff,                    )  


         v.                                             )  


CAROL INMAN, d/b/a                                      )  

STARICHKOF ENTERPRISES,                                 )  


                          Defendant.                    )  


                 Certified Questions from the United States District Court for  


                 the District of Alaska, Sharon Gleason, Judge, and the United  


----------------------- Page 2-----------------------

                   States  Bankruptcy  Court  for  the  District  of  Alaska,  Gary  


                   Spraker, Judge.  

                   Appearances:  Michael A. Grisham, Dorsey & Whitney LLP,  

                   Anchorage, for All American Oilfield.  Cabot Christianson,  

                   Law  Offices  of  Cabot  Christianson,  Anchorage,  for  Carol  

                   Inman.  Elena Romerdahl, Perkins Coie LLP, Anchorage, and  

                   David   A.   Zdunkewicz,   Hunton   Andrews   Kurth   LLP,  

                   Houston,  Texas,  for  Cook  Inlet  Energy,  LLC.                     Kevin  G.  


                   Clarkson,  Brena,  Bell  &  Clarkson,  P.C.,  Anchorage,  and  


                   Aaron M. Guerrero and Carolyn Carollo, Snow Spence Green  

                   LLP, Houston, Texas, for Charles Gebhardt, Trustee.  Laura  


                   Fox,  Assistant  Attorney  General,  Anchorage,  and  Jahna  


                   Lindemuth,  Attorney  General,  Juneau,  for  Amicus  Curiae  

                   State of Alaska.  

                   Before:  Bolger, Chief Justice, Winfree, Stowers, Maassen,  

                   and Carney, Justices.  

                   WINFREE, Justice.  


                   In 1910 the United States Congress passed Alaska's first mineral dump lien  


statute, granting laborers a lien against a "dump or mass" of hard-rock minerals for their  


work creating the dump. After piecemeal revisions, Alaska's 1933 territorial legislature  


amended the dump lien statute to include oil and gas development, creating a framework  


for technological advances in the state's nascent oil and gas industries.  The mineral  

dump lien statute has remained substantively unchanged since, and we have infrequently  


addressed it.   

                   We accepted certified questions from both the United States District Court  

and the United States Bankruptcy Court regarding the scope of the mineral dump lien  

statute as applied to natural gas development.  For the reasons that follow, we conclude  


                                                           -2-                                                    7395

----------------------- Page 3-----------------------


that the statutory definition of "dump or mass" reflects that a mineral dump lien may  

extend only to gas extracted from its natural reservoir, that the lien may cover produced  


gas contained in a pipeline if certain conditions are met, and that to obtain a dump lien  

laborers must demonstrate that their work aided, broadly, in gas production.      


          A.       All American v. Cook Inlet  


                    The relevant facts of this case are not in dispute.    Cook Inlet Energy, LLC  


operates  oil  and  gas  wells  in  southcentral  Alaska.    In  November  2014  Cook  Inlet  

contracted with All American Oilfield, LLC to "drill, complete, engineer and/or explore  

three wells" on Cook Inlet's oil and gas leaseholds.  All American began work soon  

thereafter, including drilling rig operations, digging holes, casing, and completing the gas  


wells.  When All American concluded its work the following summer, Cook Inlet was  


unable to pay.  In June 2015 All American recorded liens against Cook Inlet, including  

a  mine  lien  under  AS  34.35.125  and  a  mineral  dump  lien  under  AS  34.35.140.    In  

October, after its creditors filed an involuntary petition for relief, Cook Inlet consented  

to Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.  

                    In  January  2016  All  American  filed  an  adversary  proceeding  in  the  

bankruptcy court "to determine the validity and priority of its secured claims."  The  



bankruptcy court found that All American has a valid mine lien against the three wells. 


But the court denied All American's asserted mineral dump lien against unextracted gas  

          1         "[W]hen answering certified questions we 'rely . . . on the federal court's  

fact  statements  and  the  excerpt.    We  make  no  independent  fact  determinations.'  "  

Attorneys Liab. Prot. Soc'y, Inc., v. Ingaldson Fitzgerald, P.C. , 370 P.3d 1101, 1103 n.2  


(Alaska 2016) (omission in original) (quoting C.P. ex rel. M.L. v. Allstate Ins. Co., 996  


P.2d 1216, 1218 n.1 (Alaska 2000)).  



                   In re Cook Inlet Energy LLC , No. A15-00236-GS, 2017 WL 1082217, at  

*9 (Bankr. D. Alaska Mar. 21, 2017).  

                                                             -3-                                                       7395

----------------------- Page 4-----------------------

remaining in natural reservoirs.3  The court also concluded that All American's mine lien  



is subordinate to Cook Inlet's secured creditors' prior liens, which would consume all  


                                                                                      4   All American appealed to  

of Cook Inlet's assets and leave All American with nothing.  


the federal district court, which, in turn, certified to us questions regarding the Alaska  

mineral dump lien statute.  

          B.       Charles Gebhardt v. Carol Inman  

                   Carol Inman, d/b/a Starichkof Enterprises, provided equipment, labor, and  


services  to  Cook  Inlet.    Charles  Gebhardt,  the  appointed  trustee  for  Cook  Inlet's  

liquidation trust,5 sued Inman to recover payments Cook Inlet made to her before the  

bankruptcy.  In October 2017 Gebhardt filed a motion for partial summary judgment,  


asserting that there was no genuine issue of material fact that the payments to Inman  

                                                    6   Inman opposed the motion, asserting an inchoate  


were avoidable preferred payments. 

lien defense.  Inman had not recorded a mineral dump lien; she asserted that, had she not  


been paid for her work, she could have recorded a valid mineral dump lien that would  

have attached to property valued in excess of the amount she was owed.  She contended  

          3        Id.  

          4        See id.  

          5        Contemporaneous with Cook Inlet's bankruptcy, its parent company, Miller  

Energy  Resources,  Inc.,  voluntarily  filed  for  bankruptcy.     That  case  was  jointly  

administered with Cook Inlet's c                ase,  and the joint debtors ultimately confirmed a joint  

reorganization plan creating a  liquidation trust  to administer  various   assets, including  

causes of act      ion, for the benefit of the debtors' unsecured creditors.  Gebhardt is the  

appointed trustee for the Miller Energy Resources Creditors' Liquidation Trust.  



                   A bankruptcy trustee has the power to "avoid" certain pre-petition transfers  


to third parties and recover that money for the bankruptcy estate.  See 1 NORTON  BANKR .  

L. & P 

         RAC .  3D  3:11 (201       9);  11 U   .S.C.   550(a)(1) (2012) (allowing bankruptcy trustee  

to recover value of "avoided" transfers).  

                                                             -4-                                                      7395

----------------------- Page 5-----------------------


that this inchoate lien constituted a complete defense to the trustee's attempt to avoid the  

payments made to her before the bankruptcy.  

                    Inman filed a motion to certify to us the questions interpreting the mineral  

dump lien in her case, which the bankruptcy court granted.  

          C.	       The Certified Questions  

                    We accepted the following certified questions:  

                    1.	       Can a "dump lien" under AS 34.35.125 et seq. apply  


                              to  gas  stored  in  its  natural  reservoir;  if  so,  was  a  

                              mineral  "dump"  created  under  AS  34.35.140  and  


                              AS  34.35.170(1)  when  All  American  drilled  three  

                              natural gas wells at the request of Cook Inlet?   


                    2.	       Is a mineral "dump" created under AS 34.35.140 and  


                              AS 34.35.70(a)(1) each time that Cook Inlet releases  

                              natural gas from the natural reservoir in which the gas  

                              was formed and transports that gas through a pipeline  

                              to the point of sale?  

                    3.	       Must a dump lien claimant under AS 34.35.140 prove,  


                              in order to have a valid dump lien, that the produced  


                              gas  was,  in  whole  or  in  part,  the  product  of  her  




                    The parties provided full briefing on these issues, and the State filed an  


amicus brief at our request.  We now hold that the answer to the first question is "no."  


The second question presents factual determinations we leave to the triers of fact, but we  

          7         See  All American Oilfield v. Cook Inlet Energy; Charles Gebhardt v. Carol  

Inman , Nos. S-16974/17043, at 2 (Alaska Supreme Court Order, Apr. 13, 2018).                                              We  

also certified another question - similar to the first noted question - whether Inman  

has a dump lien over minerals in a natural reservoir.  But Inman decided not to pursue  


this question.  

                                                              -5-	                                                       7395

----------------------- Page 6-----------------------


hold that gas in a pipeline may be subject to a dump lien if other conditions are satisfied.  

We hold that the answer to the final question is "yes."  



                        Appellate Rule 407(a) allows us to answer certified questions that "may be  


determinative of the cause then pending in the certifying court and as to which it appears  

to the certifying court there is no controlling precedent in [our] decisions."  Answering  


certified  questions  requires  that  we  "stand  in  the  shoes  of  the  certifying  court,  yet  



exercise our independent judgment."   "This entails 'selecting the rule of law that is most  

persuasive in light of precedent, reason, and policy.' "9  

            8           Attorneys Liab. Prot. Soc'y, Inc., v. Ingaldson Fitzgerald, P.C.                                                 , 370 P.3d   

 1101, 1105 (Alaska 2016) (quoting                             Schiel v. Union Oil Co. of Cal., 219 P.3d 1025, 1029   

(Alaska 2009)).  

            9           Id. (quoting Schiel, 219 P.3d at 1029).  

                                                                           -6-                                                                    7395

----------------------- Page 7-----------------------

Iv.	      DISCUSSION10  


          A.	       Unextracted Natural Gas Remaining In Its Natural Reservoir Cannot  

                    Constitute A "Dump" Under The Mineral Dump Lien Statute.  

                    1.	      Statutory framework  


                    Alaska has three statutes allowing workers to attach liens to mines, mining  


equipment, or minerals.  Alaska Statute 34.35.125 allows a person who performs work  


on a mine or oil well to attach a lien to "the mine or mining claim, oil, gas, or other claim  


or well as security for the payment of the work."  Alaska Statute 34.35.130 allows a  


person who performs work on a mill or machine used in a mining operation to have "a  


lien on the mill or machine, to secure the payment of the amount due for the work."  

These two statutes create preferred liens, with precedent over other liens excepting those  


recorded before the work resulting in the lien claim started.                              

                    Alaska Statute 34.35.140(a), at issue in this case, provides:  

          10        "We interpret statutes 'according to reason, practicality, and common sense,  

considering  the  meaning  of  the  statute's  language,  its  legislative  history,  and  its  

purpose.'  "   Id . (quoting Municipality of Anchorage v. Stenseth , 361 P.3d 898, 905  


(Alaska 2015)).  We have rejected a mechanical application of the plain-meaning rule  


and instead "use a sliding scale approach to statutory interpretation, in which 'the plainer  


the  statutory  language  is,  the  more  convincing  the  evidence  of  contrary  legislative  


purpose or intent must be.' "  Id. (quoting Stenseth, 361 P.3d at 905).  


                    Alaska's worker lien laws are remedial in nature and should be construed  

liberally.  AS 34.35.930.  But we have distinguished between the remedial portions of  

lien statutes and those " 'which articulate mandatory conditions precedent to the very  

creation and existence of the lien.'  These mandatory conditions precedent . . . are to be  


'strictly construed.' " Lakloey, Inc. v. Ballek , 211 P.3d 662, 665-66 (Alaska 2009) (first  


quoting H.A.M.S. Co. v. Elec. Contractors of Alaska, Inc. , 563 P.2d 258, 262 (Alaska  

1977);  then quoting Nerox Power Sys., Inc. v. M-B Contracting Co., 54 P.3d 791, 800  


(Alaska 2002)).   

          11        AS 34.35.135.  

                                                             -7-	                                                       7395

----------------------- Page 8-----------------------

                      A person who, at the instance of another who has the right of   

                     possession   of  a  mine,  or  mining  claim,  oil  or  gas  well,  

                     performs upon, in, or about the mine or well any of the kinds                   

                      of work mentioned in AS 34.35.125, or who performs any   

                      other kind of work in the production, piling up, or storing of       

                      a dump or mass of mineral, has a lien on the dump or mass,  

                      and  the  gold,  gold  dust,  or  other  minerals  contained  in  or  

                      extracted from it, to secure the amount due the laborer in the  


                     production of the minerals.  

The dump lien statute thus describes:  (1) the types of work qualifying "a person" for the  

lien - "any of the kinds of work mentioned in [the mine lien statute], or . . . any other  


kind of work in the production, piling up, or storing of a dump or mass of mineral";  

(2) the property to which the lien attaches - "the dump or mass, and the . . . minerals  

contained  in  or  extracted  from  it";  and  (3)  the  types   of  debts  the  lien  satisfies  -  

"amount[s] due the laborer in the production of the minerals."12  

                      A "dump or mass" is defined in AS 34.35.170(a)(1) as:  

                      [M]ineral-bearing sands, gravel, earth, ore, stone, coal, oil,  


                      gas, other fluids or minerals  extracted, hoisted, and raised  


                      from a mine or mining claim, while in mass at the mine or on  

                      the mining claim or adjacent to it, whether it is deposited in  


                      dumps or piles, or placed in hoppers, tanks, or reservoirs, or  

                      in sluice boxes or bunkers or other receptacles and whether  

                     partially  or  wholly  reduced  from  its  primary  state  or  not.  

                      (Emphasis added.)  

A dump or mass thus must:  (1) consist of specific types of matter; (2) be "extracted,  


hoisted, and raised from a mine or mining claim"; (3) be "in mass"; and (4) be "at the  


mine or on the mining claim or adjacent to it."                                 

           12         AS 34.35.140(a).  

           13         AS 34.35.170(a)(1).  

                                                                    -8-                                                             7395  

----------------------- Page 9-----------------------

                   In contrast to the other two liens over mines and mining equipment, the  


dump lien created by AS 34.35.140 is "prior and preferred" over other liens, "whether  



                                                                                                       Because a dump  

given before or after the work for which the lien is claimed is started." 


lien  has  priority  over  other  liens,               a  bankruptcy  proceeding  creditor  would  prefer  


holding a dump lien to increase the creditor's chance of being paid if the bankruptcy  

estate is not large enough to satisfy all obligations.  

                   2.	       The dump lien statute's plain language excludes unextracted gas  

                             remaining in its natural reservoir.  


                   All American argues that the dump lien statute applies to unextracted gas  


remaining in its natural reservoir and that it gained a dump lien by drilling natural gas  

wells for Cook Inlet.  All American's interpretation primarily relies on implied legislative  

history and policy arguments.  We conclude that the history and policy arguments are not  

sufficient to overcome the statute's contrary plain language.   


                   The statutory framework makes clear that for a claimant to obtain a dump  



lien, there must be a "dump" to which the lien can attach.                            The existence of a dump is  

a condition precedent to obtaining a dump lien, and we therefore strictly construe the  


statutory  definition.              Under  the  statute's  plain  meaning,  unextracted  gas  cannot  

          14       AS 34.35.140(c).  

          15       Id .  

          16       See AS 34.35.140(a).  

          17       See Lakloey, Inc. v. Ballek, 211 P.3d 662, 665 (Alaska 2009); see also  

53 AM .   JUR .   2D  Mechanics' Liens   25 (2017) (internal citations omitted) (emphasis  


                    [P]rior to the application of a liberal construction to the lien  


                   laws,  the  procedural  requirements  -  such  as  those  for  

                   attachment,  creation,  and  perfection  and  dissolution  of  a  


                                                             -9-	                                                     7395

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constitute a dump because it was never "extracted, hoisted, and raised" as the statutory  


definition requires.            

                    All American's contract contemplated that it would assist Cook Inlet with  


natural gas extraction, but All American's work apparently was limited to establishing  


natural  gas  wells.    All  American  states  that  it  "performed  drilling,  exploration,  


engineering, and other work to access the natural gas contained" in the reservoir.  All  

American explains that it "explored, drilled, managed, and ultimately provided valuable  


labor in both finding the gas and creating a mechanism (the well) by which [Cook Inlet]  


was able to extract the gas."  But the gas over which All American claims it has a dump  

lien was not "extracted, hoisted, and raised."19  


                    Although  the  certified  question  asks  whether  the  dump  lien  applies  to  

natural  gas  stored  in  its  native  reservoir,  All  American  instead  discusses  whether  

unproduced gas that has never left its natural reservoir can be subject to a dump lien.  


As the State notes, although  "unextracted  gas may  remain  in its reservoir until  it  is  

produced, this is not gas storage."  Gas storage specifically "requires prior production  


                                                                In other words, produced gas reinjected and  

and a separate agreement with the State." 

          17	       (...continued)  

                    mechanic's lien -  are to be strictly construed against the  


                    party claiming the lien.  Accordingly, in many jurisdictions,  


                    mechanic's lien statutes are strictly construed as to . . . what  


                    constitutes  labor  and  materials  or  lienable  items  [and]  the  

                    kind of property or the estate or interest on which a lien may  

                    be fastened.  

          18        See AS 34.35.170(a)(1).  

          19        See id.  

          20        See AS 38.05.180(u) (providing Alaska Department of Natural Resources  


                                                             -10-	                                                      7395

----------------------- Page 11-----------------------

stored in a natural reservoir has been "extracted, hoisted, and raised" and might qualify  

as a dump.  

                  All  American  contends  that  the  words  "extracted,  hoisted,  and  raised"  


effectively must be ignored to satisfy the dump lien statute's purpose.  But based on this  

plain  language,  because  the  gas  for  which  All  American  drilled  wells  never  was  

"extracted, hoisted, and raised" from the mine, it cannot qualify for a dump lien under  


AS 34.35.140.  Although unextracted gas cannot constitute a dump, All American still  

may obtain a non-preferred mine lien under AS 34.35.125, as the definition of "mine"  

or "mining claim" broadly includes "all valuable mineral deposits, including coal, oil,  

gas , or other fluid, and all loads, veins, or rock in place containing minerals."21  

                  3.	      Neither  legislative  history  nor  case  law  extends  the  "dump"  

                           definition to include unextracted gas remaining in its natural  


                  Despite a dearth of legislative history, All American argues that we should  


liberally  interpret  the  dump  lien  statute  and  its  accompanying  definition  based  on  

AS 34.35.930's provision that the lien chapter "is remedial and its provisions shall be  

liberally construed."  All American likens the dump lien statute to "a legal contraption  

that has been significantly amended through patchwork additions, but never revised" and  


argues that the "legislative purpose and intent of the 1933 amendments was to provide  


companies like [itself] with [d]ump [l]ien protection."  But even before "dump" was  

explicitly defined, earlier versions of the dump lien statute consistently required that  


minerals be removed from the ground to qualify as a dump to which a dump lien could  


         20       (...continued)  

commissioner may authorize subsurface gas storage subject to lease).  

         21       AS 34.35.170(a)(3) (emphasis added).  

                                                        -11-	                                                  7395

----------------------- Page 12-----------------------

                      Alaska's first dump lien statute was passed in 1910 by the United States  


Congress.    This earliest iteration granted a lien to laborers for work performed on "the       

dump or mass of mineral-bearing sands, gravels, earth, or rocks, and all gold and gold   

dust, or other minerals therein, and all gold and gold dust extracted therefrom."                                                23   The  

statute neither defined "dump" nor required that all minerals be "extracted, hoisted, and  



raised" from the mine itself.                      Congressional debate from 1910 - the only existing  


legislative history accompanying any version of the statute - indicates that the statute  


                                                                                                        25  At that time Alaska  

sought "to extend the lien of miners greater than it is at present."  


apparently provided that every "person performing labor or furnishing material of any  


kind to be used in the construction, development, alteration, or repair, either in whole or  


in part, of any building, . . . [or] mine, . . . shall have a lien upon the same for the work  



or labor done."              But the law did not "give the miner who digs the ore or the mineral- 

bearing gravel out of the earth any lien at all for his labor."27  


                      Congress apparently thought it necessary for the miner to have such a lien  

                                                                                           28    The  congressional  record  

given  the  "practical  operations  of  mining  in  Alaska."       


           22         Act of June 25, 1910, ch. 422, 36 Stat. 848 (creating miner's labor lien in  

Alaska territory).  

           23        Id. at  1.  

           24         See id. at  1-11.  

           25         45 Cong. Rec. 4,905 (1910).  

           26        Id.  

           27        Id. (emphasis added).  

           28        Id.  

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----------------------- Page 13-----------------------

                       [I]n the practical operations of mining in Alaska the mineral-  

                       bearing   gravel  is  removed  in  the  winter  time.    When  the  

                       spring comes, the "dump," as it is called, is put through a   

                       process of washing out the gold and gold dust and minerals   

                       that are contained therein. It very frequently happens that the      

                       person   who   operates   the    mine   is   obliged   to   borrow  

                       considerable money as he commences to operate the mine.  

                       When  spring  comes,  it  may  be  that  the  mortgagee  then  

                       forecloses his mortgage, on which he has received interest to  


                       the amount of 4 to 6 per cent a month.  After his mortgage is  


                       satisfied  there  is  nothing  left  to  go  to  the  miner,  who  has  

                       produced  this  dump,  there  being  no  law  giving  him  any  



                       security for his labor.  


The law did not "give [the miner] a lien upon the mine, but [rather] a lien only upon that  


which his labor has produced, namely, the dump, and the gold or gold dust contained  

therein or extracted therefrom."30  


                       Alaska's territorial district court considered the 1910 dump lien statute in  


Donaldson v. Henning .                       Because the statute did not define "dump," the court looked  

to the term's common usage by miners:  "[T]he term 'dump' usually refers to the pile or  

mass of gold-bearing earth or gravel hoisted from a mine, prior to the time that it has  


                                                                                                             Even before a statutory  

been washed and the gold and gold dust extracted therefrom."  

definition,  courts  and  common  usage  defined  "dump"  as  containing  only  minerals  

actually "hoisted from a mine."33  

            29         Id.  

            30         Id.  

            31         4 Alaska 642 (D. Alaska 1913).  

            32         Id. at 655.  

            33         See id.  

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----------------------- Page 14-----------------------

                     Alaska's territorial district court again considered the dump lien statute a   


year later in Nordstrom v. Sivertsen-Johnsen Mining & Dredging Co .                                              Applying the  

1910 version of the statute, the court looked to the dictionary definition of "dump" and  


found that the legislature "meant the mineral-bearing sands piled up or collected into an  


aggregate heap or body, and not the mineral-bearing sands or dirt that has been only  



loosened or broken up, but not piled up on the surface of the ground in some place." 

                     Alaska's 1913 territorial legislature amended the dump lien statute.36   The  


amended statute provided, in relevant part, that the "lien shall attach in every case to such  


mine, lode, mining claim, deposit, and the ore, gold bearing earth, rock, gravel, sand,  


gold, gold dust or other precious mineral mined, taken and extracted from such mine,  


lode, mining claim, deposit."                    Although the statute did not use the term "dump," it still  


required that minerals be "mined, taken and extracted" from the mine to be lienable.                                                   

                     Alaska's 1915 territorial legislature again amended the dump lien statute.39  


This iteration reintroduced the term "dump" and separated mine liens from dump liens.40  


The dump lien attached to "the dump or mass of minerals . . . and  gold or gold dust or  


          34         5 Alaska 204 (D. Alaska 1914).

          35        Id. at 209.

          36         Ch. 79, SLA 1913. 

          37        Id. at  1 (emphasis added).  

          38        Id.  

          39         Ch. 13, SLA 1915.  

          40        Id.  

                                                                -14-                                                          7395

----------------------- Page 15-----------------------


other minerals therein."               Perhaps more importantly, for the first time since the lien  

statute's inception, the legislature explicitly defined the term "dump" and required that  

the materials comprising the "dump" be "extracted, hoisted, and raised from a mine."42  


The 1915 statute - like the 1913 statute - required that minerals be "extracted, hoisted,  


and raised" from the mine to constitute a dump to which a lien could attach.                                       

                   Alaska's 1933 territorial legislature again amended the dump lien statute,  



varying from the current version only by renumbering.                               The 1933 statute reorganized  


and reworded the mining lien statutes, revising them to explicitly encompass oil and gas  


                                                 45   The statute expanded the definition of "mineral" to  

in addition to hard-rock minerals.  


include oil and gas, and it expanded the definition of "dump or mass" to include "mineral  


bearing sands, gravel, earth, ore, stone, coal, oil, gas, other fluids or minerals extracted,  



hoisted and raised from a mine."                   Minerals comprising a dump could be "deposited in  

dumps or piles, or placed in hoppers, tanks or reservoirs, or in sluice boxes or bunkers  

          41       Id. at  1.  

          42       Id. at  13 (emphasis added).  

          43       Id. ;  see  Donaldson  v.  Henning ,  4  Alaska  642,  655  (D.  Alaska  1913);  

Nordstrom v   . Sivertsen-Johnsen Mining & Dredging Co.,  5 Alaska 204, 209 (D. Alaska  


          44        Ch. 113, SLA  1933.  The statute was renumbered in 1949 but substantively  

contained the same provisions.    26                -2-1 to 26-9-13 Alaska Compiled Laws Annotated  


          45        Ch. 113, SLA 1933.  

          46       Id. at  1.  

                                                            -15-                                                       7395

----------------------- Page 16-----------------------


or other receptacles," but nonetheless needed to be "extracted, hoisted and raised from  


a mine."            

                        The requirement that minerals be "extracted, hoisted, and raised from a  


mine" has remained consistent from the dump lien statute's 1910 inception through each  


of its iterations.  The statute's legislative history is consistent with its plain language and  


suggests no reason to depart from the requirement that a dump lien attaches to minerals,  


including  gas,  only  when  "extracted,  hoisted,  and  raised  from  a  mine."    Thus  All  


American's argument that the legislature intended to extend a dump lien to unextracted  

gas remaining in its natural reservoir is inaccurate.  

                        4.	         Applying  the  dump  lien  statute  as  written  does  not  lead  to  

                                    glaringly absurd results.  


                        All  American's  final  argument  is  that  requiring  gas  to  be  "extracted,  


hoisted,  and  raised"  leads  to  "absurd  results"  given  that  in  1933  "there  was  no  

commercially-available technology to store natural gas anywhere other than in the native  

reservoir" and that the "industry practice continues to be to store the gas in its native  


reservoir once the well is drilled."  All American asserts that, "[u]nlike other minerals,  


natural gas is not extracted from a mine and placed into a 'pile,' nor has it ever been, nor  

            47          Id.   The dump lien statute has been mentioned in four other cases.                                                       The  

"dump" definition was revisited in two of these cases.                                        D.H. Blattner & Sons, Inc. v. N.M.  

Rothschild & Sons, Ltd.                  , 55 P.3d 37, 42-49 (Alaska 2002) (discussing dump lien statute's       

"work" definition but not analyzing whether dump or mass existed);                                                      Studdert v. Tanana  

 valley Gold Dredging Co., 8 Alaska 267, 271 (D. Alaska 1931) (rejecting expansive                                    

reading of 1915 statute and stating legislature intended "to refer only to . . . minerals     

which were either deposited in dumps or piles, placed in hoppers or tanks or in sluice  

boxes or bunkers, or other receptacles, located in the same place").  The statute was  

discussed only tangentially in the others.  Morris v. Rowallan Alaska, Inc. , 121 P.3d 159,  


 161 n.4 (Alaska 2005) (explaining appellant filed dump lien to satisfy judgment); In re  


Naknek  Elec.  Ass'n ,  471  B.R.  225,  236-37  (Bankr.  D.  Alaska  2012)  (discussing  


AS 34.35.140 relating to"work" definition used in mine lien statute).  

                                                                         -16-	                                                                   7395

----------------------- Page 17-----------------------

could it ever be."  All American contends that, by requiring gas to be extracted, the  


 statute would exclude "over 90% of the natural gas produced in [Alaska] from the reach  


of  the  dump  lien  statute,  and  effectively  nullif[y]  the  [s]tatute's  application  to  the  



                       To support its proposition that "in Alaska more than 90% of natural gas is  


 stored in the native reservoir," All American relies on an expert report introduced in the  


bankruptcy court.  The report examines the term "reservoir" and focuses on gas produced  


 specifically in Cook Inlet, stating that "some 10% of the overall Cook Inlet-produced gas  


volume is involved in local storage operations on an annual basis."  The report also  


explains that "[n]one of [the several gas storage reservoirs in Alaska] were authorized  

and active as gas storage reservoirs before 2001."  


                       "We have recognized that '[i]n ascertaining the legislature's intent, we are  

obliged to avoid construing a statute in a way that leads to a glaringly absurd result.' "48  

But "[w]e have refused to nullify statutes, however hard or unexpected the particular  


effect, where unambiguous language called for a logical and sensible result."49  

                       Contrary  to  All  American's  contentions,  we  conclude  that  interpreting  

AS  34.35.140  according  to  its  plain  meaning  does  not  lead  to  a  "glaringly  absurd  


result."50  As Cook Inlet and the State contend, historical sources and case law from other  


jurisdictions indicate that gas extraction and storage existed elsewhere in the United  

 States when the 1933 statute including oil and gas was passed, and, as the State argues,  


Alaska's 1933 legislature thus "could have reasonably believed that extending the dump  


            48         Gillis v. Aleutians E. Borough                     , 258 P.3d 118, 124 (Alaska 2011) (alteration     

in original) (quoting Sherbahn v. Kerkove, 987 P.2d 195, 201 (Alaska 1999)).  

            49         Sherman v. Holiday Const. Co., 435 P.2d 16, 19 (Alaska 1967).  

            50         See Gillis, 258 P.3d at 124.  

                                                                       -17-                                                                 7395

----------------------- Page 18-----------------------

lien statute to oil and gas might at least have some potential practical applications."                                           51  

The legislature may have anticipated upcoming technological developments in the oil  


and gas industry and may have passed the dump lien statute and accompanying definition  


to create a framework for Alaska's future oil and gas laborers.  All American appears to  


acknowledge that gas extraction and storage outside of a natural reservoir were possible  


in 1933, quoting a geological survey providing that the "earliest successful [off-site]  

underground natural-gas storage was completed in 1915 in Welland County, Ontario,  

Canada.  In 1916, operations were begun at Zoar Field near Buffalo, New York, but  



developments  of  many  such  facilities  did  not  commence  until  1937." 


                    That only a "small percentage of natural gas" would be subject to a dump  


lien does not nullify the statute.   The legislature specifically chose to include gas in the  


          51        The   State   cites   Robert  F.  Walters,  Gorham  Oil  Field,  Russell  County,  

Kansas ,  KAN .   GEOLOGICAL  SURv .   (1991)  and  Daniel  Johnson,  Gasometers:  a  brief  

history, THE TELEGRAPH (Nov. 26, 2013), which, according to the State, "indicate that  

around 1933, extracted crude oil was sometimes temporarily kept in pools or tanks near  

a well that could constitute a 'dump' or 'mass,' and technology did exist that would  


allow gas to be kept in tanks called 'gasholders' in some situations."  The State also  


discusses a 1934 Kentucky Court of Appeals case, Hammonds v. Cent. Ky. Nat. Gas Co. ,  


75 S.W.2d 204 (Ky. App. 1934), overruled on other grounds by Tex. Am. Energy Corp.  


v.  Citizens  Fid.  Bank  &  Tr.  Co.,  736  S.W.2d  25  (Ky.  1987),  which  suggested  that  

"produced gas could be injected into depleted reservoirs for storage."  Cook Inlet cites  


an Indiana historical source, Robert v. Kirch, Development of Underground Gas Storage  

in Indiana, 54 I 

                         ND .  MAG . OF HIST . 3 (1958), noting underground gas storage in Indiana   

began as early as 1916.  

          52        See Louise Jordan, Natural Gas Storage in Oklahoma , 19 OKLA . GEOLOGY  


NOTES , 183, 183 (1959).  

                                                               -18-                                                         7395

----------------------- Page 19-----------------------


dump lien statute, and, as written, the statute can be applied without leading to glaringly  


absurd results.            

                     5.        Conclusion  

                     The answer to this first certified question is "no."  The plain language of  


the dump lien statute and accompanying definition excludes unextracted gas remaining  


in its natural reservoir.  The dump lien statute's legislative history and case law do not  


counsel extension of this definition, and affording the statute its plain meaning does not  

lead  to  glaringly  absurd  results.    We  previously  have  considered  "the  historical  


importance of mining for precious metals and the present importance of oil drilling to the  


Alaska economy," and have noted that "[t]echnological advances in the mining industry  


                                                                                                                    But we also  

. . . require us to adapt the language in [earlier] cases to modern times." 

have recognized that "we must respect the underlying principles embodied in those cases  



and the statutes upon which they relied."                            Because a dump lien cannot apply to gas  

remaining in its natural reservoir that has never been "extracted, hoisted, and raised," All  


American's drilling of natural gas wells did not create a dump, and a dump lien did not  


attach under AS 35.34.140.   

          53         All American also contends that the statute should be read to "maximize the           

economic recovery Alaska obtains with respect to the extraction of its natural resources."  

All American claims that requiring gas to be extracted would result in "outside lenders  


. . . obtain[ing] decades of benefits" to the detriment of local economies.  Evaluating the  

merits of this economic policy argument is a task better left to the legislature.  



                    D.H. Blattner & Sons, Inc. v. N.M. Rothschild & Sons, Ltd. , 55 P.3d 37, 44  

(Alaska 2002).  

          55        Id.  

                                                                -19-                                                          7395

----------------------- Page 20-----------------------

             B.	         Natural Gas In A Pipeline May Constitute A Dump If Certain Factual                                          

                         Conditions Are Met.  

                         The second certified question, whether a dump or mass is created each time                                 

gas flows through a pipeline, is a closer question.                                           Based on the statutory definition, gas  

constitutes a dump or mass if it:  (1) has been "extracted, hoisted, and raised from the     

mine or mining claim," (2) is "in mass," and (3) is "at the mine or on the mining claim     


or  adjacent  to  it."                     We  hold  that  natural  gas  in  a  pipeline  meets  the  first  two  

requirements,  but  we  leave  the  question  whether  the  particular  gas  in  Cook  Inlet's  

pipelines is at, on, or adjacent to the mine or mining claim to the trier of fact in each case.  


                         1.	          Gas in a pipeline has been "extracted, hoisted, and raised from  


                                      the mine or mining claim."  

                         Gas must be "extracted, hoisted, and raised from the mine or mining claim"  


                                        57   All American, Inman, and the State agree that gas in a pipeline  

to qualify as a dump.  


has been extracted from the ground and hoisted and raised from its native reservoir into  

the pipeline.  But Cook Inlet argues that gas in a pipeline does not meet this statutory  



requirement because pipelines are included in the definition of mine or mining claim, 

and a dump must be "extracted, hoisted, and  raised from  a  mine  or  mining  claim ."  


(Emphasis in original.)  Cook Inlet contends that gas must be "removed" from the mine,  

and because gas in a pipeline is still part of the mine itself, it is not a "dump."   


                         Cook Inlet's argument fails to recognize either the breadth of the definition  

of  "mine  or  mining  claim"  or  the  distinction  between  a  "dump"  and  its  location  or  

container.  The definition of "mine or mining claim" is broad; it includes five primary  

             56          See AS 34.35.170(a)(1).  

             57          Id.  

             58          See AS 34.35.170(a)(3).  

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----------------------- Page 21-----------------------

categories  of  property:    (1)  "a  block  or  parcel   of   mining  ground";  (2)  "all  valuable  

mineral deposits"; (3) various structures "below the surface of the ground"; (4) various       

above-ground structures "affixed to the ground and used in the working, mining, and     

development"; and (5) various "appurtenances," including roads and pipelines.59  

                     Based on this broad definition, it is possible for a dump to be created if it  

is "deposited" on or "placed in" property that is itself part of the mine or mining claim.60  



For  example,  mineral-bearing  sands  piled  on  a  "parcel  of  mining  ground"                                              would  


qualify  as  a  dump,  as  would  oil  pumped  into  a  "tank[]"62  that  also  happened  to  be  


"affixed to the ground and used in the working, mining, and development"63 of the mine.  

Likewise there is no reason that gas in a pipeline cannot constitute a dump, even when  


the pipeline itself is part of the "mine or mining claim."  


                     Cook Inlet's suggested interpretation of the statute also fails to reconcile  

all  of  the  requirements  in  the  "dump"  definition.    A  dump  or  mass  must  both  be  


"extracted, hoisted, and raised from a mine or mining claim" and "in mass at the mine  


or on the mining claim or adjacent to it."                             It thus is clear that minerals could not be  

entirely  removed  from  a  mine  and  still  constitute  a  dump.    We  instead  interpret  


"extracted,  hoisted,  and  raised"  to  require  that  minerals  must  cease  being  "mineral  

           59        Id.

           60        See AS 34.35.170(a)(1).

       See AS 34.35.170(a)(3).  

           62        See AS 34.35.170(a)(1).  

           63        See AS 34.35.170(a)(3).  

           64        AS 34.35.170(a)(1).  

                                                                 -21-                                                            7395

----------------------- Page 22-----------------------



deposits" that are part of the mine,                               not that the minerals must be removed entirely from  

the mine and its component parts.  Gas ceases to be a mineral deposit when it is severed  


                                                                                                                                            Because gas  

from the land, i.e., "extracted from the soil and brought to the surface." 


in a pipeline has been "extracted from the soil and brought to the surface," it has been  

"extracted, hoisted, and raised from a mine or mining claim."  

                         2.           Gas in a pipeline is "in mass."  

                         Alaska  Statute  34.35.170(a)(1)  also  requires  gas  to  be  "in  mass"  to  


constitute  a  dump.                    The  statute  provides  that  a  dump  is  "in  mass  .  .  .  whether  it  is  


deposited in dumps or piles, or placed in hoppers, tanks, or reservoirs, or in sluice boxes  



or  bunkers  or  other  receptacles."                                   Consistent  with  the  conclusion  reached  by  the  

territorial district court in Studdert v. Tanana valley Gold Dredging Co., we conclude  


that the "whether" clause limits the ways that a dump can be "in mass" to the enumerated  

             65          See AS 34.35.170(a)(3).  

             66          38 AM .  JUR .  2D  Gas and Oil  4 (2017) ("Gas and oil when unsevered are   

a part of the land and after gas and oil are extracted from the soil and brought to the                          

surface, they are deemed personal property."  (Internal citations omitted));                                                                    see Cont'l  

Res. of Ill., Inc. v. Ill. Methane, LLC , 847 N.E.2d 897, 901 (Ill. App. 2006) ("Oil and gas          

in place are minerals, but because of their fugacious qualities, they are incapable of                                                      

ownership distinct from the soil. . . . Oil and gas are incapable of ownership until actually  

found and produced.").  

             67          AS 34.35.170(a)(1).  

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----------------------- Page 23-----------------------


examples.    The term "whether," when used as a conjunction, introduces "alternative"   


possibilities that have "qualifying or conditional force."                          

                   Following this interpretation, the only way for natural gas to be "in mass"  

would be for it either to be "deposited in dumps or piles" or "placed in hoppers, tanks,  

                                                                                           70  Because gas has no  


or reservoirs, or in sluice boxes or bunkers or other receptacles."  

fixed shape or volume, it cannot be deposited in a dump or pile.   We must therefore  


determine whether natural gas pumped out of its natural reservoir into a pipeline on its  


way to another destination is "placed" into a "receptacle" for the statute's purposes.  


Cook Inlet and Gebhardt argue that a pipeline is not a "receptacle" containing a dump  

because, unlike the statute's other listed examples, a pipeline is used for transportation,  

not storage.   

                   A  "receptacle"  is  "[t]hat  which  receives  or  holds  anything  for  rest  or  

             71   We apply the ejusdem generis canon of construction and interpret the word  


         68        See 8 Alaska 267, 271 (D. Alaska 1931) ("Clearly, in my judgment, the  

Legislature intended, by the use of this language, to refer only to sands, earth, ore, rock,  


and minerals which were either deposited in dumps or piles, placed in hoppers or tanks  


or in sluice boxes or bunkers, or other receptacles, located in the same place."  (Emphasis  






36 (C.T. Onions ed. 1928) ("Introducing a disjunctive clause (usually with correlative  

or) having a qualifying or conditional force, and standing in adverbial relation to the  

main sentence."  (Emphasis in original));  Whether, 10 THE  CENTURY  DICTIONARY  &  

CYCLOPEDIA 6895 (Benjamin E. Smith ed. 1914) ("Introducing the first of two (or more)   

alternatives, the second being introduced by or."  (Emphasis in original)).  

         70        See AS 34.35.170(a)(1).  

         71        Receptacle , 8 THE CENTURY DICTIONARY &  CYCLOPEDIA 4998 (Benjamin  

E.  Smith  ed.  1914);  see  also  Receptacle,  2  F 

                                                                    UNK  &   WAGNALLS  NEW  PRACTICAL  



                                                          -23-                                                     7395

----------------------- Page 24-----------------------


"receptacle" "in light of the characteristics of the specific terms" that precede it.                                    All  


but one of the statute's listed receptacles primarily are used to hold or store materials.  


                                                                                            73   "Bunkers" are "large  

"Tanks" and "reservoirs" both are used to store liquids or gases.                                                

                                          74  "Hoppers" also are bins or vessels that typically have a  

bins" used to store materials.                                                                          

door or chute on the bottom that can be opened to remove their contents, and can be used  

                75                                                   76 

for  storage    or  as  a  temporary  holding  place.                       The  outlier  among  the  enumerated  

          71        (...continued)  

1954) ("Anything that serves to contain or hold other things").  

          72        City of Kenai v. Friends of Recreation Ctr., Inc.                  , 129 P.3d 452, 459 (Alaska  

2006) (quoting  West v. Umialik Ins. Co., 8 P.3d 1135, 1141 (Alaska 2000)).  

          73       See Reservoir, Paul W. Thrush, A   DICTIONARY OF MINING ,   MINERAL,   &  

RELATED TERMS 914 (1968), available at  

("A  natural  underground  container  of  liquids,  such  as  oil  or  water,  and  gases.");  


Reservoir , 8 THE CENTURY DICTIONARY &   CYCLOPEDIA  5101 (Benjamin E. Smith ed.  

1914) ("A place where anything is kept in store: usually applied to a large receptacle for  

fluids  or  liquids,  as  gases  or  oils.");  Tank,  A DICTIONARY  OF  MINING , MINERAL, &  


RELATED TERMS 1119 (1968), ("A large  

vessel or receptacle, made either of wood or of metal, intended to contain a fluid as gas  


or water.");  Tank, 9 THE  CENTURY  DICTIONARY  &   CYCLOPEDIA  6180 (Benjamin E.  

Smith ed. 1914) ("A large vessel or structure of wood or metal designed to hold water,  

oil, or other liquid, or a gas.").  



                   See Bunker, A DICTIONARY OF MINING , MINERAL, & RELATED TERMS  151  

(1968), available at ("A vessel for the  

storage  of  materials;  the  lowermost  portion  is  usually  constructed  in  the  form  of  a  


hopper.  Also called bin."); Bunker , 1 THE CENTURY DICTIONARY &   CYCLOPEDIA 721  

(Benjamin E. Smith ed. 1914) ("A sort of fixed chest or box; a large bin or receptacle:  


as, a coal-bunker."  (Emphasis in original.)).  

          75       See Hopper, A DICTIONARY OF MINING , MINERAL, & RELATED TERMS 550  

(1968),  available  at  (providing  third  

definition of "hopper" as "[a] storage bin or a funnel that is loaded from the top and  



                                                            -24-                                                       7395

----------------------- Page 25-----------------------


receptacles is the "sluice box."  Unlike the other listed receptacles, sluice boxes are used  


primarily  to  separate  valuable  minerals  from  waste  minerals.                            But  like  the  other  

receptacles, they hold a quantifiable amount of materials in one place.   

                   We conclude that pipelines are sufficiently similar to tanks, reservoirs,  


bunkers, hoppers, and sluice boxes to qualify as "receptacles." Unlike tanks, reservoirs,  


bunkers, and hoppers, the primary purpose of a pipeline is not to hold something, but to  

                                                       78   But  the  inclusion  of  "sluice  boxes"  in  the  

transport  it  from  one  place  to  another.                      

enumerated list of receptacles indicates that a "receptacle" under the statute does not  

         75        (...continued)  

discharges through a door or chute at the bottom").  

         76        See Hopper, A DICTIONARY OF MINING , MINERAL, & RELATED TERMS 550  

(1968),  (providing  first  definition  of  


"hopper" as "[a] vessel into which materials are fed, usually constructed in the form of  


an inverted pyramid or cone terminating in an opening through which the materials are  


discharged (not primarily intended for storage)" (emphasis added)); Hopper , 1 FUNK &  



(Charles Earle Funk ed. 1948) ("A tank or box-like receptacle for holding water, grain,  

sugar, etc., which may be emptied by opening its bottom.").  

         77        See Sluiceboxes, A  DICTIONARY OF MINING ,  MINERAL,  &  RELATED TERMS  

1031 (1968),  ("Long, inclined troughs  

or  launders  containing  riffles  in  the  bottom  that  provide  a  lodging  place  for  heavy  

minerals in ore concentration."); Sluice, 9 T 

                                                              HE  CENTURY DICTIONARY &   CYCLOPEDIA  

5707 (Benjamin E. Smith ed. 1914) ("In mining, a trough made of boards, used for  

separating gold from the gravel and sand in which it occurs."  (Emphasis in original.)).  


         78        See Pipeline, A  DICTIONARY OF MINING , MINERAL, &  RELATED TERMS 824  

(1968), ("A line of pipe with pumping  

machinery  and  apparatus  for  conveying  a  liquid  or  gas.");  Pipe-line ,  2  FUNK   &  


(Charles Earle Funk ed. 1954) ("A line of pipe, as for transmission of water, oil, etc.").  


                                                         -25-                                                    7395

----------------------- Page 26-----------------------

need to only or primarily hold its contents.  In the process of conveying a gas, pipelines  


do "hold" or "contain" it for a brief period of time, as a "receptacle" would.   


                    As All American notes, it also appears that natural gas can be stored in a  

                                                                                                     79  In some pipeline  

pipeline to enable a gas producer to respond to changes in demand.     

systems, a certain level of gas must be stored in the system to maintain pressure levels.80  


The gas stored in a pipeline is called "line pack," and its volume can be calculated.81  The  


incidental storage function of pipelines is similar to that of sluice boxes, which are used  


to separate gold from sand and gravel and likely only store the gold for a short time.  


Because pipelines are "receptacles," we conclude that gas in a pipeline is "in mass."  

                    3.	       Whether gas in a pipeline is "adjacent" to the mine or mining  


                              claim to constitute a dump is a factual question left to the trier  


                              of fact.  

                    Gas in a pipeline also must be "at the mine or mining claim or adjacent to  


it" to qualify as a dump.82  The statute does not clearly answer whether a large receptacle  


located partly on the mine, but mostly off the mine, can qualify as being "at the mine or  


          79        See M.A.B. Ernst et. al, Line-Pack Management For Producing Electric  

Power  On  Peak  Periods ,  31  APPLIED   THERMAL   ENGINEERING    42,  42-43  (2011)  

("Line-pack is the storing of natural gas inside the pipeline network by boosting the line  


pressure above the delivery pressure.  The line-pack is useful to reduce abrupt changes  


on compressor load.").  



                    See Transw. Pipeline Co. v. United States, 639 F.2d 679, 680-81 (Ct. Cl.  


 1980) ("The line pack gas in issue, in the sense of a constant volume of gas, but not in  


the sense of specific molecules of gas, is an indispensable and, in substance, an integral  

part of the pipeline system, just as the pipe in the pipeline, or the compressors or any  

other essential component without which the pipeline system cannot operate.").  

          81        E.   SHASHI MENON ,  GAS PIPELINE HYDRAULICS   132-35 (2005) (providing  

equations to calculate line-pack volume based on pipe diameter, length, gas pressure,  

temperature, and compressibility).  

          82        See AS 34.35.170(a)(1).  

                                                              -26-	                                                        7395

----------------------- Page 27-----------------------

on the mining claim or adjacent to it."  To determine whether a pipeline that is only  

partially on a mine or mining claim satisfies the requirement, courts will need to engage  

in a fact-specific inquiry to determine if the off-mine portions are close enough to be  


considered "adjacent" to the mine.  Because neither the bankruptcy court nor the district  


court made findings about the exact location and size of the pipelines at issue in these  

cases, we leave these conclusions to the triers of fact.83  

                     4.	       Conclusion  

                     Because gas in a pipeline has been "extracted, hoisted, and raised" and is  


"in mass," it may constitute a dump if the gas is located "adjacent" to the mine or mining  



claim.  This determination must be made on a case-by-case basis,                                        and we leave to the  

trial courts the answer whether in these cases the gas qualifies.  

          C.	        Dump Lien Claimants Must Prove That Their Work Aided, Broadly,  

                     In Producing Minerals.  

                    As posed, the final certified question asks whether dump lien claimants  


must prove that produced gas is the product of their labor.  The answer is "yes."  Alaska  

Statute 34.35.140(a) plainly requires that lien claimants make this showing, providing  

          83        Assuming that gas in a pipeline could qualify as a dump, both All American     

and Inman argue that a corresponding dump lien should extend to all gas pumped though  

the pipeline, not just the gas that exists at a particular point in time.  Gebhardt argues, on  


the other hand, that a dump lien would attach only to gas present at a fixed point in time,  


and his counsel noted at oral argument before us that the legal implications of foreclosure  


law compel that conclusion.  Acknowledging these arguments, we do not address their  

merits because they are beyond the scope of the question certified to us.  



                     Cf. D.H. Blattner & Sons, Inc. v. N.M. Rothschild & Sons, Ltd., 55 P.3d 37,  

54 (Alaska 2002) ("The determination of whether 'adjacent' or 'nearby' activities can  

be considered part of the project must be made on a case-by-case basis and take into  


account 'whether the activity could have been carried out at an alternative site closer' to  


the project." (quoting Bd. of Trade, Inc. v. State, Dep't of Labor, Wage & Hour Admin. ,  

968 P.2d 86, 92 (Alaska 1998))).  

                                                               -27-	                                                         7395

----------------------- Page 28-----------------------

that the dump lien is "to secure the amount due the laborer in the production of the  

minerals."  (Emphasis added.)  This is in contrast to AS 34.35.125, providing a lower  

priority  mine  lien  "as  security  for  the  payment  of  the  work ."    (Emphasis  added.)  

Laborers working on mines thus may obtain dump liens to secure amounts owed only  


for work "in the production of the minerals"; other work may be secured by a mine lien.  

                    Framing this certified question differently, the more important consideration  


is the required connection between a laborer's work and the production of the minerals.  


Alaska Statute 34.35.140(a) provides that a claimant may be entitled to a dump lien by  


performing "any of the kinds of work mentioned in AS 34.35.125" or "any other kind  


of work in the production, piling up, or storing of a dump or mass of mineral."  Alaska  

Statute 34.35.125, in turn, lists as work entitling a claimant to a mine lien:  


                    opening up, developing, sinking, drilling, drifting, stoping,  

                    mucking,   stripping,   shoveling,   mining,   hoisting,   firing,  


                    cooking, teaming, or perform[ing] any other class or kind of  

                    work necessary or convenient to the development, operation,  


                    working, or mining of the claim or well; . . . perform[ing]  


                    work tending to or assisting in the developing, extraction,  

                    separation,  or  reduction  to  a  commercial  value  of  the  


                    minerals;  .  .  .  perform[ing]  work  on  a  water  right,  ditch,  

                    flume,  pipe  line,  tramway,  tram,  road,  or  trail,  used  in  

                    connection with the opening up, or to facilitate the opening  

                    up, operation, or development of the claim or well, or the  


                    extraction of the minerals.  

                    The statutory language describing allowable work in AS 34.35.140, and in  


AS 34.35.125, by reference, is expansive.  As the superior court found in D.H. Blattner  


& Sons, Inc. v. USMX, Inc., dump liens "are not restricted to labor specifically devoted  


to  the  production  of  minerals."85  

                                                      We  affirmed  this  conclusion  on  appeal,  perhaps  


inarticulately, holding that the petitioner in that case "need not prove that covered work  

          85        No. 4FA-98-1749 CI, at 11 (Alaska Super., Nov. 30, 1999).  

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produced the minerals against which the lien is claimed."                             By that language we meant  


precisely what the superior court said, namely that "[a] fair reading of the statutes . . .  

places a broad umbrella over the types of work that will allow a person to claim a dump  


lien,  beyond  those  who  can  prove  they  actually  produced  the  minerals."                                  Because  



"production" encompasses more than bringing subsurface minerals above ground, 

laborer may claim and enforce a dump lien by performing any of the kinds of work  


mentioned in the dump and mine lien statutes.  Whether a particular claimant's labor  


meets these requirements is a fact- and case-specific inquiry, and we leave the answers  

in these cases to the triers of fact.  

v.        CONCLUSION  

                   The answer to the first certified question, whether All American's drilling  


of gas wells created a dump under AS 34.35.140, is "no."  We leave the answer to the  

second certified question, whether Cook Inlet creates a dump each time it releases gas  


into its pipelines, to the trier of fact, but we hold that gas in a pipeline may be considered  


a dump if it is "adjacent" to the mine or mining claim.  The answer to the final certified  

question, whether produced gas must be the product of the lienor's labor as defined in  

the dump and mine lien statutes, is "yes."  

          86       D.H. Blattner & Sons, Inc. , 55 P.3d at 42.  

          87       See Blattner, No. 4FA-98-1749 CI, at 13.  

          88       See  Production,  2  FUNK   &    WAGNALLS  NEW   PRACTICAL   STANDARD  

DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE 1045 (Charles  Earle  Funk ed. 1954) (defining  

"production" as "[t]he act or process of producing" or "[t]hat which is produced or  


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