With successful oil and gas production comes the need and demand for pipelines to transport the same. Requests for pipeline easements coupled with threats of condemnation if such easement request is declined are unfortunately common place in many negotiations. Seemingly fed up with threats of condemnation, Ivar and Donna Larson successful defeated Sinclair Transportation at the Colorado Supreme Court in 2012. However, the concern that such success will be short lived continues to persist.
Since the ruling in 2012, lobbying groups with oil and gas companies have sought to undo or supposedly “fix to align Colorado law with 100 years of practice,” as stated by Senator Cheri Jahn. Legislative efforts in both 2013 and then in 2014 by Colorado Senate Bill 14-093 have focused on adding into Colorado law specific authority for private oil and gas companies the right to condemn across private property. Largely due to efforts from Colorado Counties, Inc., and others cognizant of the ramification to private landowners, such legislative has yet to pass.
While oil and gas companies have undoubtedly acted like and threatened landowners that they have condemning authority for the last 100 years, it took nearly 100 years before a landowner like the Larsons had the guts and means to stand up to the oil and gas companies and tell them that they didn’t have condemning authority, and when they did, they won. This is far from an instance where the Colorado Supreme Court made an error needing correction as oil and gas lobbying groups advocate. Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer perhaps states it best that the companies, “have had it wrong for 100 years... It's an infringement of private property rights; misuse of public right of way for a private, for-profit company [that is not a utility].”
Keep the playing field level and fair, keep private ownership rights private, and oppose legislation granting condemnation authority to private industry.
Jenna H. Keller, Esq.
Keller Law, LLC (www.kellerlawllc.com)
Jenna H. Keller provides legal services to farmers, ranchers, rural property owners, and severed mineral interest owners in the areas of estate planning, natural resources (oil, gas, wind), real estate, and water in Nebraska and Colorado.
The information is for general information purposes only. This should not be substituted for legal advice and should not be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or reading does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. You are encouraged to contact an attorney for legal advice concerning the information provided.