Thursday, September 1, 2016

Fracking Updates

The anti-fracking movement recently suffered a disappointment when measures failed to make the fall Colorado ballot. Not enough signatures were collected, and some are alleging forgery for many that were collected. The proposals included increased setbacks for new oil and gas facilities from homes and other buildings, as well as more power for local governments to control or restrict the process.

All of the action taken against fracking the past few years has been an uphill battle. The bottom line is this: most of us, especially those in city or suburban areas, do not own the mineral and oil rights under our properties. Typically, those subsurface rights were severed from the properties years ago and sold to oil and gas companies who reserve the right to explore and remove anything they may find worth removing. Both the surface and subsurface owners have an equal right to "enjoy" their interest. In other words, homeowners cannot prevent oil and gas companies from extracting minerals and oil from under their properties. 

The most that can be done is to govern how and when it is mined, since having subsurface rights does not allow that owner to interfere or devalue the rights of those on the surface. Moratoriums on drilling wells have had some success in delaying new facilities from operating, giving cities time to more closely examine the effects of fracking on the environment and residents. These measures have been extremely controversial and have resulted in several lawsuits from the Colorado Oil and Gas Association as well as Colorado's Supreme Court striking down some cities' ordinances. The court ruling does leave opportunities for home rule municipalities to regulate some aspects of oil and gas operations in the future.

Colorado oil and gas permits, courtesy of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
Current developments for gas and oil development in the Denver metro area can be found here:
image: WildEarth Guardians

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