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Questions about property rights

Published August 13. 2010 05:00PM

The Aug. 11 meeting of the Kidder Township Environmental Advisory Council was primarily concerned with the issue of shale drilling. The attitude of the attending Carbon County Constitutionalists, a local conservative group, showed that there is truly a wide range of opinions within the national conservative movement. The group was opposed to shale drilling in its present form, because it represents the corruption inherent to state and federal government.

One of the most prominent issues within the Conservative Movement, the supremacy of property rights, will be put to the test by the issue of shale drilling. Conservatives believe in property rights, the right to sell and own land, however, the members of the Constitutionalists are also opposed to shale drilling because of its negative environmental impact, which also affect property values.

Further, those who lease land to drilling companies are merely exercising their right as property owners. When asked about this after the meeting, one member of the Constitutionalists gave pause then answered, "I can't give you a definite answer on that right now," he said "its important and I'd have to think about it more. I can say that there have been times in the past when property rights issues have been superseded."

He gave the example of slavery, "before Dredd Scott was overturned, slaves were property, so overturning that law affected property rights negatively, however it was the right thing to do. So there are times when it is necessary to supersede individual rights for the benefit of the larger community."

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