In Routt County, two words have been ignored in the debate about responsible energy development. Citizens Supporting Property Rights, a new local citizens group, is committed to bringing those words — property rights — back to the debate.
Our organization represents residents and landowners with mineral property rights seeking to protect them. After all, we think the valuable minerals beneath our lands can complement the priceless treasures above. We’ve paid taxes on our minerals for as many as 100 years. Revenues from these minerals to the county, while consistent, have been modest. But, once we bring those minerals to the surface, Routt County will benefit in measurable, meaningful ways.
Some in our community don’t want to see drilling of any kind, but most are somewhere in the middle. It’s not only reasonable but prudent to have questions and concerns. After all, Routt County’s tourism and recreation activities are crucial to our valley. However, Citizens Supporting Property Rights thinks Routt County can have energy production that respects resident concerns and neighbors’ property rights, too.
Routt County farmers, ranchers and business owners are culturally patient and polite. Respect for neighbors and community has resulted in our silence. But silence is no longer an option because a minority of individuals has taken things too far. So far, in fact, that our rights as landowners are being impacted. Now, as interest groups attempt to restrict or prohibit oil and gas development in our county, we’ve organized to provide a clear, alternative view. With a little bit of balance and a lot more respect, property rights, energy development, tourism and recreation can coexist. If they can do it in La Plata County and Durango, we can do it here.
Colorado is the benchmark for comprehensive energy policy, having the most restrictive oil and gas regulations in the nation. Every aspect of oil and gas production is met with legions of requirements from the state to ensure protection of our health, air, land and water resources. Gov. John Hickenlooper deserves credit: He helped forge a bipartisan consensus around energy in the state, one demanding sensible production safeguards while guaranteeing regulatory certainty, making Colorado desirable for energy companies to invest in.
Northwest Colorado is blessed with an abundance of energy resources that can help diversify and move our economy forward. And good economic policy starts at home. The job of our local leaders should be to create balanced policies promoting responsible development of these resources and fair treatment for companies of all kinds.
Citizens Supporting Property Rights members don’t see oil and gas companies as enemies. Nor do we see them as our friends. Rather, we see oil and gas folks as business partners. Like any business relationship, they deserve clarity, fairness and respect while being held to the highest industry standards in place.
In coming weeks, we will begin running ads and taking steps to disseminate our views. We’ll be sure citizens have the benefit of knowing where our elected officials stand on property rights issues now and in the future.
Amy Williams, Hayden; Jody Camilletti, Milner; Harry Thompson, Steamboat Springs; Steve Elkins, Steamboat Springs
Citizens Supporting Property Rights