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Editorial: Fractivists can’t control property for free

Extreme anti-energy activists must be shown that property is not free. If it is free, none should feel secure in a business or home. None should count on keeping a car, if it is subject to uncompensated government reallocation. The notion that property belongs to the rightful owner, and is not free to anyone else, is the essence of two bills introduced this week in the Colorado Legislature.

It is alarming to think we need such legislation in a peaceful country founded on an understanding that freedom requires security of possessions. But just as legislative committees prepared to review the bills, we were reminded of the need.

Food & Water Watch, an anti-energy group based in Washington, D.C., took to the steps of Denver City Hall on Tuesday to advocate a full fracking moratorium in Denver. It’s part of the organization’s bigger goal to ban oil and gas development throughout Colorado and the rest of the United States. A Denver Post editorial wisely urged readers to ignore the group and its radical agenda.

Ignoring them is fine, but we must also prepare to defend oil and gas.

Senate Bill 93 is one small step in the right direction. It would require any form of government action that reduces the value of mineral rights to compensate the owner. If a fracking ban imposed by a city government substantially devalues or renders useless a mineral claim, the government would pay the owner for the loss.

In related news, The campaign goes on: ‘Ban Fracking’ groups target new Colorado task force

Similar to Senate Bill 93, House Bill 1119 would protect investors in mineral rights from takings advocated by anti- energy activists who want city, county and state governments to obstruct oil and gas extraction.

“The bill specifies that a local government that bans hydraulic fracturing of an oil and gas well is liable to the royalty owner for the value of the lost royalties,” explains the summary of HB 1119.

This should not be the least controversial. It’s common sense that protects private property and forces activists to pay their way.

Governments have a long history of stopping developments, closing mines and even taking over agricultural operations to protect view corridors and otherwise preserve environments. In Colorado, state government and municipalities are known for containing sprawl and preserving recreational space by setting aside open space. Toward this end, most open space acquisitions begin with good faith negotiations among government officials and property owners. If someone owns property planned for residential development, government typically acquires the property for something reflecting the anticipated profits associated with the land’s most valuable possible use. On rare occasions when buyer and seller cannot agree, courts resolve disputes. Either way, no one suggests land be commandeered without compensation.

Anti-energy activists, by contrast, have shown no consideration for people who have invested hard-earned money into mineral rights that are often intended to produce revenue for college tuitions, retirements or other essential needs. In self-righteous crusades that exaggerate safety and environmental concerns, they want blanket bans and setbacks that would negate the value of mineral rights without compensation.

Colorado’s energy foes are relentless. As seen this week, they have abundant out-of-state support. The Legislature and governor must head them off with laws to protect energy production and the jobs it provides. 

This article was from The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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