A few weeks ago, Be The Change’s Environmental Director, Phil Doe, testified in support of Representative Joe Salazar’s bill – HB-1310 – which shifts the balance of rights in split estates from mineral owners to the surface owners. The bill holds oil and gas operators strictly liable for damage to the health of the surface owner, to the land, and to earthquake damage caused by deep well injection. The bill has passed the Colorado House and now moves to the Republican-controlled Senate.
We very much support HB 1310. It is deeply needed. It moves in the direction of sanity and supports our state constitution’s admonition in the Bill of Rights concerning political power and to whom it rightfully belongs:
“All political power is vested in and derived from the people,… originates from the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole.”
The Oil and Gas Conservation Act is an abuse of this constitutional guiding principle, for it gives away the people’s right to self determination and bestows it ignominiously on the oil and gas industry. If this were not true, if this had not been done, you would not have the growing rebellion by citizens in cities and towns threatened by fracking, and you would not have this bill before you today.
I spoke at the Greeley city council meeting the other night. I was there to support the people’s right to determine what was best for the “good of the whole.” The city council, by a 5-2 vote, voted for what was best for the property rights of a small fracking company headed by recent School of Mines graduates loaded down with speculative money from Wall Street.
The majority of the council, led by Mayor Tom Norton, asserted, tangentially, that the property rights of the few were superior to the rights of the many. Individual speculative profits trumped citizen issues of public health and safety, or the good of the whole, if you will.
The growing contempt for government we find in this country derives from decisions like that seen in Greeley the other night. The out of town speculator, pockets loaded down with out of town money got over two hours to make his case before the council. The citizens, armed only with their concerns, were given 3 minutes apiece.
Finally, I implore you all to review a decision made by your legislative predecessors. They gave the COGCC the right of preemption. In so doing they took away the rights of the people to self-determination on all matter oil and gas. They acted unlawfully, unconstitutionally, in my opinion, for they effectively revoked the constitutional guaranteed right of Home Rule, Article V, the rights of citizens to determine what is best for their city and neighborhoods when the issue is of dominant local concern. There is nothing more local than the threat of an oil well in your backyard, accompanied by the realization that the state has taken away your rights to petition the government. Really, as it now stands, your only option is to move. But who’d buy the property?
Phil Doe – Environmental Director, Bet The Change USA