Forced pooling

Just when you thought the oil and gas industry couldn't have any more power in Colorado, you learn about "forced pooling." Even if you own the mineral rights under your property, they can be taken from you to allow fracking.

For example, at the Wildgrass neighborhood in Broomfield, 500 homeowners learned that, if just one of them agrees to the terms offered by Extraction Oil and Gas, all of them will be forced to give up their mineral rights. The offer was $500 plus an estimated royalty of about $3,000 over the first four years (according to a Dec. 1, 2016 story in the Boulder Weekly by Daniel Glick). Extraction Oil and Gas has applied to drill 140 wells in this and one other Broomfield neighborhood.

Gov. Hickenlooper has asserted that drilling rights must not be impeded in any way, calling it a property-rights issue. Forced pooling makes a mockery of that argument. What about the property rights of individual homeowners who are forced to sacrifice their property to a private company?

Rep. Foote's bill makes a few adjustments, but leaves forced pooling the law of the land. With today's politics, it's the most we can hope for. That's terrible.

Colorado needs to overhaul the regulation of oil and gas extraction. No other industry is allowed to trample on people's rights, thwart local zoning and oversee the organization entrusted with overseeing and regulating their activities.