Inflammatory reporting doesn't help anybody

  Dear HCN, I read with some puzzlement your edition of Sept. 25, in which you applaud the use of propane-powered buses in Zion National Park, then promptly deride the natural gas industry, the source of that propane. I've always respected the High Country News for what I thought was balanced, in-depth reporting on contentious environmental matters. My views have changed based on the stories written.

I agree that surface owners need to be knowledgeable, and I add that real estate agents and developers need to disclose fully what the laws are regarding split estate lands. Otherwise, your comments were inflammatory and terribly inaccurate. There are bad actors in the industry and there are many very contentious companies quietly going about their business in a good way. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality is being very careful about excess water discharge into waterways, and is not arbitrarily issuing discharge permits. Industry is as frustrated with the water-discharge matter as landowners and the concerned citizens.

Undoubtedly, underground injection is an alternative in coalbed methane areas. Did your investigative reporting uncover any proactive water discharge solutions? There are many cases in northeast Wyoming of win-win solutions between landowners and coalbed methane gas producers. Did you not want to print those?

"How Well Do You Know Your Wells?" was not an educational piece, it was the worst kind of journalism. Using partial and sometimes inaccurate facts to try to imply that the problems that you've stated are the norm is sad. Statistically there are so many wells that aren't creating problems. The potential problems listed were such a small percentage and should have been represented as such. There are no easy answers to the colliding forces in Colorado and the Rockies, which include oil and gas, mining, land development, and above all, population growth and increasing national and world demand for inexpensive energy, food and shelter. But inflammatory, poorly researched and imbalanced reporting will not serve to find the solutions that are necessary for the future.

David F. Banko
Lone Tree, Colorado

The writer is a consultant to the natural gas industry.