DENVER, CO — The Colorado Supreme Court issued a decision today, restoring the rights of property owners, and reinstating the longstanding regulations on energy exploration enacted by the Colorado State Assembly.  

Mountain States Legal Foundation filed an amicus brief in the case, Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission v. Martinez, arguing that the Colorado Supreme Court should restore the plain and unambiguous meaning of the state’s Oil and Gas Conservation Act.   

In late 2013, environmental alarmists filed a petition with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, seeking to ban all new oil and gas drilling permits in the state unless the Commission could prove drilling would not adversely affect human health or climate change. Both the Commission and the Denver District Court agreed that the Commission lacks legal authority for such a rule.

But the Court of Appeals reversed the District Court’s decision. In its ruling, and for the first time ever, the Court of Appeals instituted a new scheme that would require the Commission to deny all drilling permits unless property owners could prove that exploration and development will have no environmental effects—a nearly impossible hurdle.    

The Court of Appeals relied on language in a legislative declaration to reach the illogical conclusion that absolute protection of the public health, safety, and welfare is a precondition to the exercise of protected private property rights.

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling restores common sense to energy exploration in Colorado, and upholds the economic rights and property rights of existing oil and gas property owners,” said Cristen Wohlgemuth, Executive Vice President of Mountains States Legal Foundation. “Furthermore, this ruling protects Colorado taxpayers, potentially, from billions of dollars in liability for the government’s seizure of their property rights.”

Mountain States Legal Foundation