CBS Denver, February 12, 2015
DENVER (AP) — Mineral owners would get compensation from local governments that restrict fracking under a Republican bill advanced by the Colorado Senate Thursday.
The question pits homeowners concerned over industrial activity in residential areas and mineral owners who want to develop their property. Sometimes the matter is further complicated in Colorado by the fact that minerals belonging to one person are underneath a house owned by someone else.
The sponsor of the compensation bill, Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, said his goal is to protect property rights when a local government implements restrictions on fracking, or hydraulic fracturing. It involves extracting oil and gas from rock by injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel, and chemicals.
“It’s basically a, ‘You ban it, you buy it,’ philosophy,” he said. “I would argue that it’s not much different than somebody that may buy a piece of property in the hopes to build a house someday and then government comes in and says, ‘I’m sorry, we’re not going to be allowing any more housing built along this street.’”
Sonnenberg’s proposal would require compensation to mineral owners if regulations reduce their property value by at least 60 percent.
A Senate committee voted 5-4 with Democrats in opposition. The full Senate now will consider the proposal.
Fracking is expected to be one of the most hotly debated questions lawmakers will take on this legislative session. A task force assembled by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper will deliver recommendations to lawmakers later this month about how to reduce land-use conflicts among local governments, homeowners and the energy industry.