Neil R. – Colorado Mineral Owner
My family has owned oil and gas mineral interests in Colorado since our grandfather came here to survey placer claims in the Rangeley field in 1917. The mineral royalties our family receives from oil and gas production have financed several businesses that provide employment in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region. These royalties have provided college educations to family members and friends of the family. They have paid the medical bills when family members have had catastrophic illnesses.
There are initiatives that may make the November ballot that will shut down oil and gas development in Colorado. 100 years of my family being able to contribute to charity, pay taxes that help build water infrastructure, and allow state grants to cities and counties will come to an end. Colorado counties will no longer collect ad valorem property taxes which finance a large portion of county government. My family, like many others, will suffer great economic misfortune.
It is no exaggeration to say that Colorado’s oil and gas regulations are the most stringent in the nation. I have personally been party to Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (“COGCC”) rule makings through my association with the National Association of Royalty Owners (“NARO”). I know for a fact that the COGCC and its staff takes its duty to protect the citizens of Colorado very seriously. The staff is highly educated and trained. It has no interest in seeing the health, welfare, and safety of any citizen jeopardized. At the same time, the COGCC has to balance the private property rights of the mineral and royalty owners of the state with municipalities that have planning authority driven by voting constituents. Conflicts with residents in neighborhoods which are developed on land acquired from farmers and ranchers who retain mineral ownership are now common. Nevertheless, those mineral owners have long standing real property rights to access and develop their minerals. The recent rule making goes a long way to achieving that balance.
The proposed initiatives are not necessary, and in the long run will ruin the Colorado economy while we wait for the United States Supreme Court to step in with a correcting ruling. Mineral owners will expect to be compensated for what will amount to a several billion dollar taking of their private property. In sum, responsible Coloradans should carefully examine the proposed 2016 Ballot Initiatives – specifically, the proposed Amendments 40, 63, 75 and 78. These proposed Amendments would inequitably decimate and cripple the Colorado energy industry.
Neil R. is the President of Colorado Alliance of Mineral & Royalty Owners.