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Bill requiring compensation for fracking bans dies in Colorado Legislature

Democrats kill measure in House panel party-line vote
Crew members with Anadarko Petroleum Corp. work on a drilling platform on a Weld County farm near Mead, in the northeastern part of the state, during August 2009. A bill that would have required local governments to compensate mineral-rights owners for losses if local hydraulic-fracking bans eliminated their ability to drill was defeated Wednesday in a state House committee.

DENVER – Democrats in the state Legislature on Wednesday killed legislation that would have required local governments to compensate mineral-rights owners in the event of a ban on hydraulic fracturing.

House Bill 1181 was sent to the controlling Democrats’ House bill committee.

The House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee killed the measure on a 5-4 party-line vote.

Similar legislation also died last year.

“It’s very disappointing to see an unfounded ideology again defeat responsible property protections for Coloradans,” said Rep. Perry Buck, R-Windsor, who sponsored the bill. “Every property owner in Colorado should be concerned that Democrats are comfortable with the government taking control of a person’s property without just compensation.”

The bill was heard as anti-fracking groups are considering ballot proposals that would allow local governments to ban fracking and enact rules and regulations that supersede the state’s authority.

Gov. John Hickenlooper established a task force that met last year and recommended rules to offer local governments a greater say in operations.

But fracking opponents felt the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission fell short in its rule-making that stemmed from the task force, and that has prompted renewed ballot discussions to allow more local control on fracking.

Environmentalists and homeowners opposed Buck’s attempt at compensating mineral-rights owners, pointing to health, safety, environmental and nuisance factors associated with fracking.

Critics of the bill pointed to loud noise and the fear of contaminating groundwater with chemicals that are injected into the ground along with sand and water to break open natural-gas and oil deposits underground.


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