Time running out for fair compensation initiative
With a deadline fast approaching, it appears an initiative to provide fair compensation to landowners for damages incurred by oil and gas operators may not make it to the November ballot. But the organizers say they won’t give up the fight.”We are furiously getting signatures but we’re not reaching our daily rate that would allow us to get on the ballot,” said organizer and Glenwood Springs realtor John Gorman, who is leading the effort. “We’re not half way there.”They have until Aug. 7 to gather at least 67,829 signatures.The group, which calls itself Colorado Landowners for Fairness, filed the initiative with the Secretary of State’s office, which accepted it only after it was challenged up to the state Supreme Court.The court ruled in June that the initiative could go forward despite a challenge from several oil and gas industry groups that claimed the title of the ballot question, “Damages for Mineral Extraction,” was too vague.Industry’s challenge effectively curtailed the group’s window of opportunity to collect signatures.But according to Gorman, who is also a candidate for county assessor, if they don’t get the required number and can’t make it on the ballot this year, they’ll try for 2007.Gorman and his group’s efforts came as a response to the failure of a bill sponsored by state Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison, which failed in a Senate vote earlier this year. Her legislation called for, among other things, compensation for damages by oil and gas operations to private landowners.An amendment to the bill prompted many groups, including the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance (GVCA), to withdraw their support for the measure because, they said, it appeared to provide a loophole for oil and gas operators that would exempt them from paying compensation for damages.In the meantime, Gorman said he and his group have learned some good lessons from mounting the initiative this year.”When we do it again (the process) will be streamlined,” he said. In the long run, Gorman said, it’s important to make sure industry is held to the Golden Rule: “If you hurt someone, fix it; if you make a mess, clean it up.”Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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