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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  

         corrections@akcourts.us.  



                    THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF ALASKA  



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.  



I.       INTRODUCTION  



                   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.      



II.       FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS  



          A.       All American v. Cook Inlet  



                                                                                        1  

                    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  



                                                                                                                             2  

                                                                               

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)).  



          2  

                                                                                                       

                   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.  



          6  

                                                                       

                   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  

                                       [7] 

                              labor?  



                                                                        

                    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."  



III.        STANDARD OF REvIEW  



                                                                                                    

                        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  



                                                                 8 

                                                                                                                                               

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  



                                                                                       11  

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  



                                                                           13  

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  



                                                                                                  14 

                                                               

                                                                                                       Because a dump  

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



                                                   15  

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  



                                                                                   16  

                                                                                                            

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  



                              17  

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  

added):  



                    [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  

                                                                                                          (continued...)  



                                                             -9-	                                                     7395
  


----------------------- Page 10-----------------------

                                                                                         

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



                            18  

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  



                                                            20  

                                                                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  



                                                                                                           (continued...)  



                                                             -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  

                           reservoir.  



                  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  



attach.  



         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  



                22  

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  

                                                   



                                               24  

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  

                                                               



                         26  

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."       



explains:  



           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.  



                                                                   -12-                                                             7395
  


----------------------- 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  

                                                                                   

                                                            [29] 

                       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  



                                        31  

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  



                                                                                                        32  

                                                                                                             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.  



                                                                      -13-                                                                 7395
  


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

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



                                                                                                             34  

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  



                                                                                                                                    35  

                                                                                                                

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,  



                                            37  

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



                                                                                                                                   38  

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-----------------------

                                   41  

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,  



                                                                                                               43  

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,  

                                                                                                              



                                                                                44  

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,  

                                                                                                    



                                               46  

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  

 1914).  



          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  

(1949).  



          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  



               47  

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  



industry."   



                                                                                                                           

                       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  



                                                                                                                52  

                                                                                                                    (Emphasis  

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



omitted.)   



                    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  



                       53  

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  



                                                                                                               54  

                                                                                                                    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  

                                                                                                   



                                                                 55  

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.  



          54  

                                                                           

                    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     



                                     56  

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  



                                                                                                                                                                 58  

                                                                                               

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).  



                                                                              -20-	                                                                       7395
  


----------------------- 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  

                                                                                                                  



                                                                                                                           61  

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  



                                                                  64  

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).
  



           61
       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-----------------------

                                                                65  

                                                                                                                           

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  



                                                                                                                                       66  

                                                                                                                                            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  



                                                                 67  

                                                                                                                                      

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).  



                                                                              -22-                                                                        7395
  


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

              68  

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



                                                                               69  

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  

deposit."        



         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  

                                                                                                            

added)).  



         69  

                                       

                   See Whether, 10 A  NEW ENGLISH DICTIONARY ON HISTORICAL PRINCIPLES  

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  

STANDARD  DICTIONARY  OF  THE  ENGLISH  LANGUAGE  1093 (Charles Earle Funk ed.  

                                                                                                       (continued...)  



                                                          -23-                                                     7395
  


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

                                                                                                                     72  

"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 https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED059035.pdf  

("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), https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED059035.pdf ("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.").  



          74  

                                                                                                 

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

(1968), available at https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED059035.pdf ("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  https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED059035.pdf  (providing  third  

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

                    

                                                                                                           (continued...)  



                                                            -24-                                                       7395
  


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

                                    

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



                                                                                         77  

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),  https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED059035.pdf  (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 &  

WAGNALLS NEW PRACTICAL STANDARD DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE 640  

                                            

(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), https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED059035.pdf  ("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), https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED059035.pdf ("A line of pipe with pumping  

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

WAGNALLS NEW PRACTICAL STANDARD DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE 999  

(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.").  



          80  

                                                                

                    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  



                                                                                                    84  

                                                                                                                             

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.  



          84  

                                                 

                     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).  



                                                             -28-                                                           7395  


----------------------- Page 29-----------------------

                                                                                  86  

                     

                                             

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  



                                                                                                            87  

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



                                                                                                                        88  

                                                                                                                            a  

"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  

made").  



                                                            -29-                                                      7395
  

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