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Colorado Lawmakers Propose Mineral Rights Royalty Bills

Two Colorado state lawmakers have proposed separate bills to force local governments that impose drilling bans to pay mineral rights owners for their lost royalties.

Mineral rights owners are increasingly organizing to protect their stakes from challenges by environmentalists in several states, including Colorado (see Shale DailyNov. 14, 2014).

Republican state Rep. Perry Buck and Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg each have authored bills that would that ensure mineral rights owners are compensated.

Sonnenberg chairs the state Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee. Buck signaled in December that he was drafting a bill (see Shale DailyDec. 15, 2014).

So far, drilling bans have been overturned in Fort Collins, Longmont and Lafayette; another lawsuit targets a ban in Broomfield (see Shale DailyOct. 1, 2014). Some Colorado lawyers caution that lawsuits for "government takings" to recover royalties are difficult and by no means a slam-dunk.

There is still the possibility of other legislative proposals coming from a 21-member statewide task force convened last fall by Gov. John Hickenlooper, which is committed to making recommendations on local control issues (see Shale DailySept. 29, 2014).

The panel completed a pair of meetings last week in Greeley, CO. A source with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission told NGI's Shale Daily that task force members continued to hear various perspectives, and they "continue to discuss options on possible recommendations. They have two meetings left."

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