After nearly losing what was supposed to be a safe Democratic seat in 2014, Rep. Joe Salazar surprisingly is planning to stymie opportunity in his district with legislation meant to thwart oil and gas development in Colorado. According to the Statesman, Salazar is planning to introduce legislation “that would force oil and gas companies to compensate residents for any loss in property value tied to drilling activities, including damage done by earthquakes linked to deep-earth wastewater injection wells.”
At the heart of this issue is the fact that fractivists are frustrated that the oil and gas task force did not produce a solution that included banning all oil and gas development. How do we know? Just see what Salazar says below:
“This shouldn’t be a politicized fight. I believe we (in state government) need to give up some of the power to local governments. They need to be able to police these industries in their area.”
Perhaps Salazar has forgotten that Colorado has some of the most stringent oil and gas regulations in the country. Mechanisms to “police” this stuff already exist.
Of course, the question is how one would quantify that, an issue that state Sen. Ray Scott also identified.
“There’s a lot wrong with this idea. Number one, you’ve got to prove it. That’s a high, high, high bar when you start talking about earthquakes. I just don’t think (Salazar) is educated on the issue. When you’re talking about property value, we had people from Vista Ridge (subdivision) in Erie come down and testify during an oil and gas hearing that their property values nearly doubled and they have wells all around them. I know that for sure because my daughter lives there. … Their property values almost doubled in two years.”
But, don’t worry. Residents don’t need to show proof that their property was damaged due to oil and gas development. According to Salazar, the bill would include language that would place the burden of proof on oil and gas companies. We presume that Salazar means that the oil and gas companies have to prove that their activities did not cause damage. It’s a very bizarre train of thought.
We agree with Sen. Scott when he said, “I think (Salazar’s) got another nonstarter going there.” Wouldn’t be the first time.