This week, negotiations are taking place among key stakeholders in the “local control” (aka fracking ban) debate to determine whether the sides can come to some kind of compromise and head into special session or if the sides will chance it on the ballot.  But, there’s one group with a lot to lose and, we haven’t heard from them until today – the mineral owners.  According to a press release, the National Association of Royalty Owners (Rockies Chapter) represents the interests of over 600,000 mineral interest owners in Colorado.  Here’s what the group’s executive director, Michelle Smith, said about the negotiations:

“Advocates of local control should not discount the private property rights of Colorado’s mineral owners.  These valuable assets provide a significant tax base, which supports statewide infrastructure improvements, funds schools, and supplements farming and ranching incomes. Colorado mineral owners will not stand idly by while the fate of their property is decided without their input, or any consideration of how the value of their resources contributes to our state’s prosperity.”

The mineral owners identified three issues which have not been covered in the negotiations: Who will compensate property owners when they lose the right to develop their land? Who will oversee local rules and regulations – will cities have to take on some of the role of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and who will pay for that?  How will the new rules and regulations impact the Colorado families that rely upon income from their mineral rights?

Lynn Bartels’ report on the remaining initiatives floating out there showed disturbing language throughout several of the initiatives: “declares there is no compensation to the mineral-right holder for that 1,500 feet because it’s not considered a taking by government”.  Essentially, what this means is that the government will prevent new development on privately-owned land and is not obligated in any way to compensate the land owners.  This would undermine the basic idea of private property rights that Americans value.

So, these folks are in on the negotiations, right?  Wrong.  They say that they have expressed interest to the Governor’s office in having a seat at the negotiating table and have yet to receive an invitation. Is this another way the Governor is waging a war on rural Colorado?