Arizona Vets4Energy chairman defends fracking after feds lose round in court


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Harry Prestanski, volunteer chairman of Arizona Vets4Energy, said he just does not understand the recent uproar behind hydraulic fracturing, the controversial and heralded extraction process that has significantly boosted domestic oil production and driven down gas prices in the U.S.

“It’s been used for 75 years in millions of wells," Prestanski said. "It has made America an energy superpower and made us a leader in reducing carbon emissions. And every major organization that has researched it, including the (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) for five years, has said it is safe,” the retired U.S. Marine Corps corporal told Arizona Business Daily.

The flap over fracking had a flashpoint last week in Wyoming, when a federal ruling was handed down from U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl, who ruled that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) doesn’t have the authority to establish rules over fracking on federal and Indian lands.

Skavdahl ruled that Congress had not granted BLM the power to make fracking rules, then excluded the practice from federal oversight, an action that boosts the morale of Vets4Energy's fracking supporters.

Skavdahl, an Obama appointee, said he wasn’t ruling on whether fracking was good or bad for the environment, but on whether Congress delegated legal authority to the Interior Department, of which BLM is a bureau, to regulate hydraulic fracturing.

“It has not,” Skavdahl wrote in his June 21 decision.

Vets4Energy, a national organization founded by veterans from different ranks and branches of the military, strongly believes that a safer America is attainable only through sound energy-security policies. The Arizona chapter, and many others, support fracking as part of U.S. energy policy.

Veterans like Prestanski emphasize the urgency of implementing energy policies that would reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and strengthen the economy.

“Why would I prefer other countries to produce the world’s oil and natural gas when Americans could be doing it? Why would I want our enemies to sell us their oil -- at a profit, I add -- to fund whatever war they were having, when we could be making it here at home and funding freedom?” Prestanski said.

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