Eminent domain oil pipeline bill fails in Colorado House

DENVER – The Colorado House of Representatives voted to postpone action on a bill sponsored by state Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley, to give oil companies the authority to enact eminent domain to seize private property for oil pipelines, killing the measure.

Electric and gas utilities have the authority to declare eminent domain for wires and pipelines, but oil companies do not have that power, according to a ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court in Larson v. Sinclair Transportation Co. in 2012.

Renfroe said he sought the same treatment for oil companies as utilities.

“A pipeline company does not just mean an electric pipeline company,” Renfroe said. “It should mean a petroleum pipeline company.”

The bill faced stiff opposition from the Weld County Board of Commissioners, which released a statement Friday applauding the bill’s failure. The measure had bipartisan co-sponsorship, including from Cheri Jahn, D-Sterling, Mary Hodge, D-Brighton, and Lois Tochtrop, D-Thornton.

Weld Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer testified against the bill during House and Senate committee hearings.

“We challenged the constitutionality of this bill from the beginning,” Kirkmeyer said in the statement. “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 House voted Tuesday to lay over the bill until May after the measure had passed the state Senate last month.


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