Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Sara Phillips (McGill LLM) has posted Property and Prosperity: Examining Contemporary Private Property Ownership in Light of Increased Oil and Gas Development in the United States on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
concept of private property has played an important role within American
history and culture. For many of the country’s founding statesmen,
private property was heralded as the ultimate path to freedom, financial
independence, and prosperity. The role of the private landowner has
evolved dramatically over the last two centuries or so, and private
property has now become an important component of US states’ increased
oil and gas development efforts. As demand for the resources continues
to rise, the US has experienced an unprecedented boom in oil and gas
development, on both public and private lands. In the wake of increased
development activity, the demand for greater land conservation measures
has also escalated. Private property plays an integral role in US
environmental conservation efforts and a growing number of landowners
now seek enduring land conservation and protection.
This thesis considers the role of private property in light of the arguably equally important state interests of oil and gas resource development and environmental conservation. Utilizing professors Gregory Alexander and Eduardo Peñalver’s human flourishing model of the social obligation norm, I argue that private property ownership consists of two primary overarching social obligations: resource development and land conservation. Looking to the state of Colorado as a case study, I examine the various traits inherent in private land ownership within the context of resource development, demonstrating that Colorado has, to its detriment, over-emphasized the obligation of resource development while neglecting other equally important environmental considerations. Throughout the thesis, I reveal how Colorado’s substandard regulatory practices have disempowered the state’s private landowners, disincentivized land conservation efforts, and effectively undermined the human flourishing model of private property ownership. I therefore argue for a repositioning of the state’s interests, to provide greater protection to Colorado’s private landowners while also restoring balance and harmony to the social objectives of environmental preservation, and conservation and development of oil and gas resources.