Amendment 74 is the most dangerous ballot issue in decades. It would require compensation of property owners for any reduction in their property value as a result of government regulation. If it passes, Colorado will completely lose the ability to protect the environment and public health. Proponents always claim that such measures protect private property rights. In actuality, however, they elevate one class of property over all others.
Environmental regulations are nearly always among the first targeted by this kind of action, because compliance with a regulation costs money. Any money an industry must spend to protect the environment is a direct reduction in profit margin, thus a reduction in “fair market value.” Amendment 74 would allow industry to claim payment for its loss from the government involved (ie. from us). In order to enact or enforce any regulation protecting public health and the environment, government would have to pay the polluter or developer to comply. Since no level of government – state, county, municipal – operates at a surplus, they wouldn’t have the funds to pay polluters, thus the only option they have is to eliminate regulations.
Land use regulations requiring buffer zones and green space for wildlife? Gone.
Requirements for companies to reclaim land they have mined? Gone.
Scrubbers on smokestacks to reduce acid rain and snow? Gone.
Regulations requiring berms around construction sites to prevent sedimentation of streams? Gone.
Regulations to protect water quality from discharges by mines, breweries, drycleaners, construction sites, feedlots or agricultural facilities? Gone.
Amendment 74, however, isn’t specific to just environmental regulation. It targets ALL regulations. Restaurant health regulations cost money, so those would be eliminated. Zoning regulations that limit certain uses in close proximity to others would also be off the table. We could see adult book stores or pot shops next to schools, oil and gas operations next to hospitals and schools.
Lastly, it’s important to remember that the amendment only applies to private property owners, which in itself increases costs to the public. Governments themselves would still need to meet standards and in fact could face significantly higher costs to do so. For example, federal drinking water standards and wastewater standards would still apply to public water providers; so Denver Water and others would need to provide a safe product. The water flowing into their facilities, however, would be significantly more impaired as a result of the lack of regulations on upstream industries. Guess who will have to pay the increased costs of water treatment to a safe standard? You, the consumer, once again!!
In its purest essence, Amendment 74 requires the people of Colorado to pay industry not to pollute the environment or poison the citizens of the State. Given the extreme threat to public health, our air, water, lands and wildlife, Amendment 74 is the most damaging issue to appear on the ballot in over 20 years. It’s imperative to defeat it in November. Vote NO on Amendment 74.