To the editor: Weld board turns back on landowners

To the editor:

The Weld County Board of Commissioners turned sideways toward local private property owners when they passed county regulations that exclude at least half of the oil and gas pipelines that are being built here.  

When the county issues a building permit for a pipeline, it formally establishes the pipeline’s route across private lands and under mutually-owned irrigation ditches.  Hundreds of miles of pipelines crisscrossing thousands of acres of rural lands have already devalued many of them by making them permanently undevelopable.

Scores of pipelines have been built underneath historic irrigation ditches without the notification or agreement of the ditch owners.  The safety of those who work in and around those ditches is at risk because they don’t know exactly where, or how deep unauthorized pipelines are.  Some ditches have suddenly collapsed and washed out because unapproved pipelines weren’t installed deep enough beneath them, jeopardizing the livelihood of many irrigated farmers.  Worse yet, several local residents have been burned, and tragically, some have even been killed when they unexpectedly encountered undocumented, natural gas pipelines.

For over two years, the commissioners have been talking about protecting the rights of private property owners and the safety of the general public.  But this week, they voted to exempt well-financed, corporate pipeline companies from obtaining county permits or even notifying property owners before building pipelines that are less than a foot in diameter, and those considered to be “low-pressure”.  That means at least half of all future pipelines won’t be subject to any kind of government review whatsoever.

Citizens have been waiting patiently for local officials to protect our interests and hold the multi-billion dollar pipeline industry accountable for their actions.  Sadly, instead, our elected representatives unanimously proved that the age-old adage, “Money Talks,” still holds true in Weld County.

Dennis Hoshiko

Weld County farmer and land/water-right owner