Dear Friends

 

Louisiana’s Big Oil slayer

There may be any number of environmental activists who run thriving Cadillac dealerships, but we only know of one: Harold Schoeffler of Lafayette, La. The grizzled 63-year-old recently camped overnight on Lamborn Mesa outside Paonia with the Boy Scout troop he founded 20-some years ago. They were taking an eight-day tour of the West, visiting Montana, Yellowstone and the Little Big Horn Battlefield, and eating apricots in Paonia.

The son of a mechanic, Schoeffler grew up in Lafayette and put himself through the University of Louisiana on money he made poaching alligators on the Audubon Wildlife Reserve. Today, his environmental résumé ranges from forcing Big Oil to stop dumping contaminated wastewater in Louisiana’s swamps and offshore ecosystems, to suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the state’s black bear population.

When he heard about the possibility of hundreds of coalbed methane wells being drilled on the flanks of Grand Mesa, north of Paonia, he got specific: “Do you know what pipeline costs to lay?” he asked. “$1.2 million a mile. And that pipeline won’t be there forever. It costs $500,000 a mile to restore the land when it’s done.”

He said the public should make sure the company takes financial responsibility for the cleanup: “You hang ’em with the end costs, that’ll make it uneconomical. The idea is to change the economics.”

More visitors

Joy Rothschild, a nurse in Fort Collins, Colo., visited the office while attending a weeklong carpentry class at Solar Energy International, a solar-power training school in Paonia. A longtime subscriber, Joy learned more about HCN than she might ever have wanted to know while staying with one of the paper’s editors, Laura Paskus (who, by the way, is still grateful for Joy’s calm competence when said editor’s dog was kicked in the head by a horse at 5:30 one morning).

Sue and Dave Sproul from Colorado Springs visited while on a camping trip. Aaron and Sue Byerly, who are also from Colorado Springs and are big fans of Radio High Country News, stopped by to say hello.

Subscribers Frank and Joanne Miltenberger of Denver stopped in after dropping their two boys off at summer camp. Joanne is a labor and delivery nurse, and Frank is a landscape architect. Subscriber Doug Phillips was en route to his old hometown of Crested Butte when he peeked in to say hello; these days, he lives on an island off the Washington coast. Jon and Pam Rose of Wooster, Ohio, came by to sign up for a subscription.

A new Webmeister

HCN welcomes back an old friend, Paolo Bacigalupi, to mastermind our Web site, hcn.org. Paolo got his start in Web programming in 1995, when he helped his mother, Linda Bacigalupi, then HCN’s associate publisher, design this organization’s first Web site. Paolo went on to work in Web development in Boston, and later for the University of Denver’s library. He and his wife, Anjula Jalan, moved back to Paonia in 2000. Anjula is the executive director of Vision, a program that connects schoolkids with local tutors and sends them as far afield as the Colorado River Delta in Mexico.

As online editor, Paolo will make the Web site more useful and accessible for the million-plus people who visit it each year. He’ll also find new ways to make the site pull its weight financially. When he’s not in the office, Paolo is trying to interest publishers in his latest novel, which he calls a “mystery/post-modern Western.” He’s also been writing short stories; his latest, “The People of Sand and Slag” will be out in an upcoming issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.