Reed bill would compensate property owners for fracking ban


The way that House Representative Tom Reed sees it, the state's decision to ban fracking has deprived some Southern Tier property owners from realizing the full potential of their land. And he's said that the state should compensate those landowners for the money they could have made by leasing their land to drilling companies.

Now, Reed has introduced legislation that would provide these landowners "an option for compensation" when governments make decisions "adversely affecting the property's value,"  according to a press release and bill summary provided by Reed's office.

“Far too often private property owners are left on the sidelines while local, state, and federal governments make decisions for them on what they can and cannot do with their property," Reed said in a press release. "This is not right; it is not fair; and it is not the American way. These actions by government entities often leave our neighbors and friends with property that is worth much less, hurting their families and leaving them little choice but to accept the lower value."

Reed ties the bill to the Fifth Amendment, which deals largely with due process in criminal prosecutions. But the amendment also includes a clause that says that private property can't be taken for public use without compensation. That clause provides a crucial protection for property owners in eminent domain proceedings.

But the idea that the state's fracking ban is somehow equal to taking private property for public use feels like a leap. Governments have legally placed restrictions on land use for a long time; it's called zoning. Those restrictions keep porn shops away from schools and protect farmers' livelihood when residential development sprawls out to their borders. And historically, governments have been able to regulate and prohibit activities on private land if they're found to be in conflict with the public good.

A copy of Reed's bill is below.

Reed Defense of Property Rights Act