Frack bans would cost cities cash under bill
Royalty owners of mineral rights that have been banned in certain localities would still be compensated for those rights under a bill that won preliminary approval in the Colorado Senate on Friday.
The measure is aimed at those cities in the state that have approved bans on hydraulic fracturing, the practice of pumping water and chemicals into the ground to loosen natural gas deposits.
Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, who introduced SB93, said the measure attempts to address a taking of people’s property rights, in this case, mineral rights.
“The mineral rights in a taking are guaranteed by the Constitution,” Sonnenberg said. “If we have something, a mineral right, guaranteed in our Constitution via property rights, then if government chooses to take that or devalue that, we have to give them compensation.”
But opponents said the measure sacrifices one property right for another.
“This is a land use that affects people’s homes, the value of their homes, it affects the mineral owners underneath,” said Sen. Matt Jones, D-Louisville. “While this bill tries to help one of those owners, it hurts the other.”
Under the bill, local governments that diminish the value of mineral rights by 60 percent or more are required to compensate those mineral rights owners the difference in the royalty payments they would receive without the ban.
The measure has been hailed as a popular way to combat those local governments that have, or have discussed, banning fracking. Proponents of the idea also have favored attempts to bar local governments that ban or hinder mineral development from receiving severance tax revenues, which drillers pay based on mineral production levels.
The bill requires a final Senate vote before heading to the House, where its future is uncertain.