Constricting the Wind Commons

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According to the U.S. Bureau of land management, wind power is the fastest growing energy technology in the United States. With this growth comes the desire to develop a legal framework for wind rights.

Today at PERC, Daniel Kaffine, with the Colorado School of Mines, explored the legal status of wind collection rights. Wind can be compared to other resources such as water and oil, but it is most often compared to mineral rights. Indeed, there is some legal precedent that argues that a mineral rights framework can be applied to wind rights. In Contra Costa Water District v. Vaquero Farms (1997), the California appellate court held that the right to harness wind for electricity constitutes a wind right that is severable from surface rights.

As Kaffine asks, “If the mineral rights framework is an appropriate analog for wind power, the question arises: should wind rights be severable from surface rights?” Some states such as Colorado think no. Other states such as Wyoming think yes. What do you think?

Huggins is a research fellow and former director of outreach with PERC as well as a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Her association with PERC goes back several years, although she has recently embarked on a new venture as the manager of economic initiatives for the American Prairie Reserve. Huggins coauthored with...
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