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A Rocky Mountain High for Colorado Landowners? What About Us?

natural gas now - Tom Shepstone ReportsTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.

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Colorado landowners have taken the initiative to protect themselves from fractivist policies intended to steal their land and deprive them of their rights.

There’s something exciting happening in the mountains and Colorado landowners are at the center of it. They are striking back at fractivist attempts to take their land under the guise of ludicrous regulations designed to stop all oil and gas development.

They have  put forth a Colorado Constitution amendment for consideration on the ballot this November. It is an amendment demanding Colorado landowners receive just compensation when either state or local government takes action diminishing the fair market value of their land. Godspeed! And, when can we get Pennsylvania and New York to do the same?

Colorado landowners

Here’s the news from Vinson & Elkins LLP’s Environmental Blog in a post by Attorney Larry J. Pechacek (emphasis added):

A petition for ballot Initiative #108 was submitted to the Colorado Secretary of State in advance of the August 6, 2018 deadline for proposals to be considered for inclusion on Colorado’s general election ballot on November 6, 2018. Touted as a “property rights” measure, Initiative #108 proposes to amend the Colorado Constitution in order to provide an equal playing field for private property owners seeking just compensation when state or local government takes action diminishing the “fair market value” of their properties

Initiative #108 represents a direct response by proponents of the oil and gas industry in Colorado that is under attack by ballot Initiative #97, also submitted to the Colorado Secretary of State prior to the August 6, 2018 deadline.

Initiative #97 proposes to establish a 2,500-foot buffer zone that is free of new oil and gas development around defined “occupied structures” and “vulnerable areas” in the state, including homes, schools, playgrounds and many water-related features, including reservoirs, lakes, rivers and creeks.

An impact assessment for Initiative #97 conducted by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission during 2018 reveals that, if the 2,500-foot buffer requirement was made effective, an estimated 54% of Colorado’s total land surface, which total includes consideration of federal lands, would be unavailable for new oil and gas development.

If the focus is shifted solely to non-federal land in Colorado, then 85% of the non-federal lands in the state would be unavailable for new oil and gas development. It is those privately owned lands that Initiative #108 would seek to address, by providing owners of private property with a direct pathway for taking state or local governments to court when their property is devalued.

Did someone in Colorado read about Lisa Baker’s proposed Pennsylvanialegislation to require the DRBC pay our landowners for the rights it’s saying it’s going to confiscate without compensation? Perhaps, but a state constitutional amendment is an even better approach in Colorado where citizens can initiate them.

It’s long past time for this aggressive approach and it can’t come to Pennsylvania and New York quick enough. Our procedures are much more difficult for getting such amendments before the voters but we need to start hammering our legislators to do more of what Lisa Baker has done. Let’s pursue constitutional amendments of our own that demand property rights be respected when regulations are drafted. Requiring compensation is the only fair to ensure this happens. Bring it on!

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