Greg Walcher, President of the Natural Resources Group, a consulting firm specializing in energy, water, public lands, forestry and wildlife. In addition, Walcher has served in the Governor’s Cabinet as the head of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and he also has spent a decade working in the U.S. Senate. Walcher’s book, “Smoking Them Out, The Theft of the Environment and How to Take it Back,” is in its second printing.
“Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting.” Mark Twain
Here is the second part of a discussion with natural resources policy author, Greg Walcher visiting Jason Spiess and me on the Weekly Word. Greg is rejoining us for a discussion about water and water rights west of the Mississippi River.
Spiess quotes a ND Health Department official, who recently said that water is “the single most important issue in energy development.” Walcher agreed and quoted a former Western legislator who said, “when you touch water, you touch everything.
After Spiess mentioned the fact that 95% of North Dakota’s property has mineral right, Greg pointed that several Western states don’t have any mineral rights, like Idaho, Wyoming, Montana. As Walcher observed that it isn’t surprising that none of those states have participated in the Shale Revolution, because there are no private mineral right.
Spiess asked Walcher to recount some of the history of water rights in the West. Walcher said the history goes back over 100 years, with a complex relationship between the states that has a controlling body of laws. Also, Walcher reminded us that any Federal ownership has been strictly prohibited which made new EPA regulation known as the Waters of the US (WOTUS) so dangerous.
Spiess talked about Alaska being state owned and thereby only deals with BP and Shell, because no other company wants to deal its “meat grinder” of regulations and endless delays. Heins pointed out that these days anyone can delay any natural resource project for 20 years, “without even breaking into a sweat.”
All three guys continued to talk about the differences between people from east of the Mississippi River and those from west of the Mississippi: Easterners have plenty of water and mostly private land and Westerners have less water and more than 35% of the land is owned by the national government.
Walcher was particularly miffed about the fact the federal government doesn’t seem to understand that Americans can take better care of public and private lands in their region than any national agency, including the Bureau of Land Management.
The constant dangerous of federal extremism cannot be underestimated. All three are worried about mob rule and/or the rule of a few people. In the end, they reviewed the importance of the concepts and morality of the American way of life and rule.