His name is Bruce Whitehead. He has been a civil servant in the Colorado Water Resources Division for 25 years. He declared himself a Democrat only last month. And he’s our newest state senator, chosen to complete the term of Sen. Jim Isgar, who was appointed to head the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development office. Mr. Whitehead impresses already for having mastered the art of talking at length with a member of the press and managing to say almost nothing. Welcome to politics, Sen. Whitehead!
Here he is today speaking with his friendly local paper, the Durango Herald, about controversial land development regulations and the hot-potato natural gas extraction process called fracking, where high-pressure chemicals are shot down into the earth to break up rock and loosen gas, posing toxic risks to water sources.
What is your stance on striking from the books the state law that prevents local government from regulating the subdivision of land into parcels of 35 acres or greater?
… Everybody wants to have their little ranchette, I guess,” he said. But, “most people who are doing that have full-time jobs and can’t keep up with the management of a parcel that size.”
He said he would have to give the issue more study before taking a stand.
Do you believe hydraulic fracturing, a technique commonly used in natural-gas production, should face stiffer regulation? Do you support the bill in Congress that would eliminate fracing’s exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act?
“I need to learn more before I would take a position,” he said.
He said there is a fine line between developing natural resources and protecting the environment.
“I think the bottom line is trying to protect the water supply is a good thing,” he said.
Should motorboats be allowed on future Lake Night-horse, south of Durango?
“I think everybody has a recreational interest,” he said. “It’s probably going to be a balancing act.”
He said a number of compromise solutions are being considered, including limiting engine size or type and restricting the days of motorized usage.
“I think all of that is on the table,” he said.
Who needs a press secretary? Not Bruce Whitehead.