Surface Rights Primer for Proposed Ballot Initiative

Note: This is from the  Colorado Land Owners for Fairness that is collecting signatures for a ballot initiative  that would require oil and gas operators to compensate private property owners for surface damage to their land.


In Colorado, as in most resource-rich states, the mineral interests may be “split” or “severed” from the surface interests. This situation results in a “split estate” where the surface owner does not own the underground oil and gas reserves. Both the surface land and the mineral interests are considered property rights, however, currently oil and gas interests are allowed to drill and gain access to the oil and gas reserves at the expense of individuals, agricultural producers, businesses and local governments that are surface owners.

In 1997, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that both estates must exercise their rights in a manner consistent with the other

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