LETTER: Columnist didn’t disclose industry ties
Although the bio included with Greg Walcher’s op-ed (“Guest Column: Faulty fracking study fans the flames of fear-mongering,” http://www.postindependent.com, Feb. 22) neglects to mention it, he is not only the former head of Colorado Department of Natural Resources and Club 20, but a DC-based lobbyist and consultant with oil and gas companies (www.dawsonassociates.com/walcher-greg/ and http://www.stillwellgroup.com/tsgteam/greg/).
Thus one can reasonably surmise he is either mistaken or being duplicitous, when he writes:
“Secondly, Postel’s article attempts to bestow credibility on the ‘Halliburton loophole,’ a claim that former Vice President Dick Cheney and his oil industry friends exempted fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act. She also asserts in the absence of federal regulations, “states have been slow to fill the regulatory gap.
“Postel is wrong on both counts. There is no Halliburton loophole making fracking ‘exempt’ from the act. The law, passed in 1974 and updated several times, has never contained language applicable to fracking, making it impossible for it to have been exempted.”
As the head of the Colorado DNR during the secretive dealings of Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force (www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_Task_Force) that led to the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 2005, Mr. Walcher is likely well aware that the term “fracking” need not be included in the original 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act or its updates to exempt this activity from its regulations. That’s because the EPCA of 2005 amended the SDWA of 1974, with the so-called (and appropriately named) Halliburton Loophole, to whit section 322:
“ENERGY POLICY AND CONSERVATION ACT: SEC. 322. HYDRAULIC FRACTURING.
Paragraph (1) of section 1421(d) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. 300h(d)) is amended to read as follows: (1) UNDERGROUND INJECTION. — The term ‘underground injection’— (A) means the subsurface emplacement of fluids by well injection; and (B) excludes— (i) the underground injection of natural gas for purposes of storage; and (ii) the underground injection of fluids or propping agents (other than diesel fuels) pursuant to hydraulic fracturing operations related to oil, gas, or geothermal production activities.”
My question to Mr. Walcher and for the public to consider is this: If fracking is safe why is industry spending its money to send paid spokespeople, like Mr. Walcher, out to confuse the American people and to overtly dissemble on the topic?
Pete Kolbenschlag works as a consultant on public lands and energy issues and is engaged in efforts to safeguard the public lands in the North Fork Valley from poorly managed oil and gas activity. None of his work is focused specifically on fighting fracking or in pushing fracking bans, and this letter is not submitted on behalf of any of his clients, reflects his own views, and is written on his own time without any compensation.
Editor’s note: The column in question never appeared in print in the Post Independent. However, it did run in the Grand Junction Free Press, with which we share a website, so it could be found on http://www.postindependent.com.
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