Reply from oil/gas consultant is 'shameless'

By Mitchell Gershten, MD

Dear Editor:

David Ludlam is at it again. He appears to believe so deeply in the primacy of the oil and gas industry that he allows those convictions to cruelly smother any shred of common sense that a human being should muster when assessing potentially profound threats to one's home and way of life. His recent letter in the DCI exposes his willingness to blatantly lie or at least to heavily bend his truths in service of his insatiable industry. His piece errs on many accounts.

First, most Delta County residents rationally oppose mixing energy and agriculture, understanding on a core level that healthy food cannot be grown in tainted air or with polluted water. In fact, it is really just the Delta County Board of Commissioners who, opposing a majority of county residents, ardently push the notion of such co-existence under the tutelage of industry. Next, by repeatedly raising the pejorative notion of self-funding "eco-activists," Ludlam deliberately casts those whose exclusive motivations are healthy, functioning ecosystems, clean air, water and food as entirely shameless in their pursuits. In reality, it is Mr. Ludlam, a well-paid, contentious and unapologetic industry consultant, who is shameless. He thinks nothing of taking money from an industry eager to drill near watersheds and reservoirs, eager in a major drought to permanently remove millions of gallons of water from the hydrologic cycle, relentless in attempts to drill in otherwise pristine areas, lands home to Colorado's wildlife, regularly accessed by hunters, equestrians, hikers, and anglers, people who would greatly prefer never to see drill rigs, collection lines or fetid waste ponds during their excursions.

Mr. Ludlam is quite skilled in his attempts to sway us into believing that his industry greatly benefits the county. His enumeration of programs where oil and gas royalties have supposedly benefitted Delta County and its residents is long and replete with alleged examples of industry largesse. Well, here too, hyperbole trumps reality. One example is the $4 million figure he quoted in which he implies that those funds came directly from industry royalties. No, sir, they did not. I challenge him, in any screed he may next pen, to prove with clear, irrefutable data, his assertions of the financial benefits of the project in question to Delta County. I challenge him to prove that oil and gas development is good for a real estate economy based on clean air, water and food. I challenge him to prove that such development is good for wildlife and watersheds. I challenge him to prove that it is worth it for the residents of Delta County to make the sacrifices his industry inevitably exacts.

Finally, Mr. Ludlam states he's hired a "renowned economist" to review the study you so disparage. Wouldn't any findings offered by that consultant be equally subject to the criticisms he so readily levels?

Mitchell Gershten, MD