State Rep. Mike Foote would like you to think he’s an expert in oil and gas law. At least that’s the takeaway from an op-ed he authored in the Boulder Daily Camera about a massively complicated area of oil and gas development, statutory pooling. Unfortunately, Foote is not an oil and gas attorney. He currently serves as a deputy district attorney, most recently specializing in juvenile law. Seems like a legit background to pontificate on oil and gas. We kid.
After Foote submitted his op-ed, which likely was meant to correspond with a vote on his bill that would give cities, counties and school districts the right to basically ban fracking (we skipped a few steps, but that’s really the end game here), the oil and gas industry sent a zinger of an op-ed back, correcting Foote’s mistakes.
Instead of just letting it go, Foote doubled down on his mistakes pointing readers to his error-filled musing as well as suggesting that a piece in the Boulder Weekly is “one of the better articles [he’s] seen explaining forced pooling.” Right.
Here are five errors in Foote’s piece that deserve correction.
- So-called forced pooling threatens open space. First, oil and gas development is a limited operation. Sure, it might occupy open space for a few months, but after that, oil and gas companies general do a great job at reclamation of the land, typically leaving it in better-than-original condition.
- Oil and gas enjoys special privileges to condemn mineral rights. Here’s the rub. Let’s say Boulder County refuses to lease its mineral rights – oh yes, Boulder County has been using taxpayer dollars to snap up mineral rights around the county – but an individual would like to develop their mineral rights which would require Boulder County to allow development. Should that individual’s rights be taken away just because Boulder County refuses to participate? No. Boulder cannot violate someone else’s mineral rights. Statutory pooling ensures a balance between adjacent mineral owners to ensure each is treated fairly and compensated for their real property.
- The oil and gas industry is not highly regulated. That’s laughable. Colorado has some of the toughest oil and gas regulations in the country – and for good reason. Coloradans like our beautiful environment. The industry also goes through lengthy permitting processes to seek input from communities. Foote is just being nasty here.
- Mineral rights owned by municipalities were bought to prevent development. Some of these mineral rights have been owned for decades, long before this turned into a massive debate. It’s presumptuous to assume that all municipalities bought these assets to prevent development (as opposed to mineral rights just being a good investment).
- Foote’s bill upholds property rights. It may uphold property rights of powerful Boulder County, but it tramples on the rights of individual mineral owners.
Foote’s bill is just another attempt at incrementalism to ban fracking, a fact he is well aware of. This spin and nonsense about protecting property rights is simply a ruse to garner sympathy for this poorly-written bill.