Are Anti-Frackers Targeting Private Property Rights In Colorado?

Chris White | Energy Reporter

Colorado is quickly becoming a mecca for natural gas developers, but now anti-fracking activists are threatening to not only nix fracking but also violate Coloradoan’s private property rights, according to one free market policy analyst.

“Private property rights are the bedrock of America’s free society and prosperity,” Paul Driessen, a senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT.org), wrote Wednesday in an analysis for the Washington Times.

“But if an anti-fracking fringe group gets its way, property rights could become a fond memory in Colorado,” Driessen wrote. “If its scheme catches on, these fundamental rights could become endangered far more widely.”

Driessen highlighted two initiatives – Initiative 63 and Initiative 78 – on Colorado’s November ballot that, he said, would seriously curtail private property rights.

Initiative 63 would grant citizens the right to a “healthy environment,” Driessen added, with another initiative allowing locales to ban drilling and fracking, which would usurp state law. Initiative 78 would prevent drilling and fracking within 2,500 feet of occupied buildings or “areas of special interest.”

Driessen adds that anti-fossil fuel activist group Coloradans Resisting Extreme Energy Development, or CREED, is mostly to blame for the proliferation of these private property-grabbing initiatives. CREED defined places and things such as playgrounds, fields, lakes, rivers, and nearly every other landmass in Colorado as “areas of special interest.” It’s a wide net.

In fact, maps developed by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission reveal Initiative 78 would nix more than 90 percent of new fracking wells, Driessen explained, thereby putting a halt to 95 percent of energy development in Colorado’s energy developing counties.

These initiatives would impact property rights. The 2,500-foot setback, for instance, would prevent thousands of mineral-rights and landowners from developing energy on their own lands.

Environmental zealots, Driessen said, certainly think they should be the ones answering questions about who determines the health of the environment, as well as “deciding whose property rights, jobs, living standards and other basic rights should be protected, and whose should be sacrificed to advance activist agendas.”

These initiatives come as research shows Colorado is becoming a world-beater in the natural gas market.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) officials said in June that parts of western Colorado have upwards of 40 times more natural gas than previously believed, making the state the second largest natural gas-producing formation in the U.S.

The Mancos Shale formation in Colorado’s Piceance Basin, located in the western section of Colorado, holds nearly 70 trillion (66.3 trillion) cubic feet of gas. This marks a massive uptick from the 1.6 trillion cubic feet estimated in 2003, research shows.

A trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to the U.S. Energy Department, is enough to heat 15 million homes for a year — 66. 3 trillion cubic feet of gas, therefore, is capable of warming hundreds of millions of homes.

The green movement has reacted predictably to the news of Colorado’s massive fracking industry.

An anti-fracking group calling itself Colorado Community Rights Network, for one, shouted slogans such as, “We the people of Colorado hold you in contempt,” and “No fracking way,” while protesting at a book event at the First Congregational Church in Boulder, Colorado.

They were likely reacting to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s book “The Opposite Of Woe: My Life In Beer And Politics,” where he writes, “based on experience and science, I recognized that fracking was one of our very best and safest extraction techniques.”

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