A bill co-introduced by Republican state Sen. Scott Renfroe of Greeley that would have given the power of eminent domain to companies that operate oil and gas pipelines has been tabled until the end of the legislative session, effectively killing the bill.
Renfroe said the intent of the bill was to reinforce a process that has been in place for a century.
“My understanding was it was for easements, and we allowed these easements for 100 years, and this was to continue the process that we’ve had in place,” Renfroe said Thursday night. “Now there are changes that need to be made to that, but there was not support for that to make those changes within this. I thought what the courts did need to be reinforced with our statutes.”
Weld County Board of Commissioners Chairman Douglas Rademacher was pleased by the tabling of the bill.
“This is great news for our farmers and ranchers,” Rademacher said in a news release from the county. “It is great news for any private property owner in Colorado.”
Under current Colorado Revised Statutes, the power of eminent domain is granted to companies for utilities such as electric and gas but a court ruled that a missing comma in the statute denies that power to oil companies.
Renfroe said he agrees that the government shouldn’t be taking private property and giving it to others.
“I’m a land developer, and I deal with that all the time,” Renfroe said. “There are issues that you do have to deal with and you have to work through on that, but our civil engineering and the structure of society is extremely vital to our quality of life and the process.”
SB 093 would have given power to private, for-profit companies to use eminent domain for construction and use of pipelines.
“We challenged the constitutionality of this bill from the beginning,” said Weld Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer, who testified against the bill in front of the House and Senate. “The government, including the General Assembly, does not have the authority to give public right-of-way to a private company nor should they take private property and give it to private companies.”
The news release stated the entire Weld board of commissioners had spoken against the bill numerous times during public meetings.
“We see land-use cases come up frequently where a company wants to build a pipeline and needs to acquire the land rights to do it,” said Weld Commissioner Mike Freeman. “We always encourage the company to work with the landowner, because it is a private property issue.”
State Sens. Greg Brophy, R-Wray; and Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins; voted against the bill in the Senate, while state Reps. Steve Humphrey, R-Severance; Perry Buck, R-Windsor; Dave Young, D-Greeley; and Lori Saine, R-Dacono, opposed the bill in the House.
The bill was introduced by Renfroe and Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge; Mary Hodge, D-Brighton; and Lois Tochtrop, D-Westminster.