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Rolling Stone isn’t exactly a friend to civil liberties. Whether it’s running a hagiography of billionaire plutocrat Mike Bloomberg’s offensive against the rights to keep and bear arms, publishing pure invective against civil rights activists, or uncritically parroting extremist talking points about the so-called gun violence epidemic in America, it’s clear Rolling Stone’s no fan of guns. That’s why I did a double-take when . . .

I read an article by Donna Young [above]. Ms. Young is a midwife in Vernal, Utah, where fracking is one of the big drivers of the local economy. She’s worried that fracking is causing an increase in local infant mortality. After sounding the alarm, Young faced death threats and personal attacks. For peace of mind, she sleeps with a revolver:

Every night, Donna Young goes to bed with her pistol, a .45 Taurus Judge with laser attachment. Last fall, she says, someone stole onto her ranch to poison her livestock, or tried to; happily, her son found the d-CON wrapper and dumped all the feed from the troughs. Strangers phoned the house to wish her dead or run out of town on a rail. Local nurses and doctors went them one better, she says, warning pregnant women that Young’s incompetence had killed babies and would surely kill theirs too, if given the chance….

[I]n Vernal, a town literally built by oil, raising questions about the safety of fracking will brand you a traitor and a target. “Me and my kids are still cautious: If someone kicked in my front door tonight, it’d take an hour for the sheriff to get here,” says Young, whose house on 60 acres is well out of town and a quarter-mile clear of her closest neighbor. “The first person they’d meet is me on the staircase, pointing that .45 dead at ’em. And I know how to use these things — I can nail a coyote in the pasture from 100 yards.”

I’m ignorant about the science of hydraulic fracturing. After reading the article I still don’t have a strong opinion about whether or not Ms. Young’s concerns are valid. But I do have a strong opinion on guns — and so does Rolling Stone.

Somehow Ms. Young avoided Rolling Stone’s usual sneering treatment of gun owners. Perhaps that’s because the mag was so intent on attacking fracking that it chose to “overlook” Ms. Young’s armed self-defense. I’d like to think it represents a change of heart. But I wouldn’t bet on it.


DISCLAIMER: The above is an opinion piece; it is not legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship in any sense. If you need legal advice in any matter, you are strongly urged to hire and consult your own counsel. This post is entirely my own, and does not represent the positions, opinions, or strategies of my firm or clients.

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  1. Not surprising. All behaviors are judged based on the political affiliation of the person doing them. Always. And she’s just wrong about fracking. Theirs nothing slightly scientif ic about her supposed anecdotal corelations of ridiculously small sample sizes. The EPA, who are largely reqired to use actual science, have tried very hard to find any instances where fracking was causing a problem and haven’t

    • I infer from your lack of ability to spell that you have not cracked a scientific journal in your entire life. Fracking, in addition to causing earthquakes in areas that have never had earthquakes, is poisoning ground water with a stew of chemicals that are being injected into the ground. The well and ground water testing is conclusive as to changes in the potability of water, from clean to toxic. There is a whole community that is living on bottled water back east because that which comes out of their faucets is flammable, and that which doesn’t burn is dark brown. When oil is forced to the surface through fracking, it brings everything else with it, and that stuff is polluting ground waters. I believe the oil companies on this issue as much as I trust PG&E over their denial that their poisoning of Hinckley California with hexavalent chromium was not the cause of cancers and deaths there.

      • Nice personal attack – something typical of liberals when they explain their world to the rest of us. No evidence that what you say is true. Fracking is simply another form of drilling. While any major underground activity can result in adverse effects (minor earthquakes, pollution to ground water, etc), the practice of fracking as a whole is not complicit and not nearly the picture of doomsday you’ve presented. On the plus side, I hear the huffpo needs some new commenters, feel free to go there and spout.

      • I’d say to pull in your wide-ranging criticism on this one, Mark. Just as there is a whole universe of firearms and reasons to carry them, there is a wide range of drilling activities and operations – and even hydraulic fracturing (which is just one of many options for enhanced recovery of oil and gas) has many permutations.

        Sure – there appear to be groundwater wells in the NE that may have been somehow effected by oil and gas operations. In fact, in the NE, there have been water wells that were affected by the natural migration of oil and gas, before those resources were even exploited. This is frequently the case where oil reserves are shallow – folks get oil in their wells. The first oil wells in the country were very shallow ones, drilled in Pennsylvania. But even before that, natives were using naturally occurring oil from seeps along creeks. Investigations of the seemingly affected wells within the Marcellas region have been pretty equivocal – and in most cases very difficult to pin well contamination directly to fracturing operations.

        Shallow fracturing may very well have some higher risks associated with the operation than deeper operations in the geological reservoirs of the Western states – but that doesn’t mean that you get to paint the entire industry with the same brush, any more than the anti-gunners get to call us all homicidal killers because some kid shoots up a school.

        The chemicals used in fracking are, for the most part, fairly nasty ones that I wouldn’t drink either. But – they are pumped thousands of feet down into formations that are never tapped for drinking water purposes. I wouldn’t drink oil or natural gas-laced water, either – even though it’s perfectly “natural” in some regions.

        Did you know that most Western states also license deep injection wells for the explicit purpose of pumping hazardous chemicals, just to get rid of them? The process is highly regulated and has been intensively studied by specialty geoscientists, and found to have no consequences to surface life if properly controlled.

        By way of disclosure – I’m a senior geologist for a horizontal drilling company that specializes in environmental cleanup. And although I do crack open a scientific journal from time to time, I also spend time periodically getting published in peer-reviewed journals.

      • Quite correct, all of it. But expect lame attacks by flunkies of Corporatism are to be expected.

        It’s not NIMBYites’ water or earthquakes, after all…

  2. Maybe all of us gun owners should be vociferously against fracking and support electric cars to the T.

    I’d gladly resign myself to driving a glorified golf cart if it meant the MSM and the government stopped their assault on the 2nd.

    • Heck, if I could afford an electric car (or even a hybrid) that would fit me and my family and that I could actually recharge on the 17-hour drive to my favorite part of rural Utah, I’d be all over it.

      And if the .gov would quit trying to trample on my civil rights into the bargain, that’d be even better.

      • Just as soon as someone makes a plug-in hybrid pickup truck, reasonably priced, and I can charge it with a solar panel on my roof, I’ll be a buyer.

        Until then, I’m at the mercy of big oil.

        • +1 re a hybrid or electric pickup.

          Re solar panel charging, I’m thinking build them into a folding bed cover. Still won’t get enough, but it’d at least help a little during the day.

        • They’re working on it for commercial trucks right now. Ian Wright, a Tesla co-founder, left (amicably, I presume) to found a company that’s modifying trucks with Tesla battery/electronics/drivetrain tech to adapt to commercial trucks.

          An EV pickup would actually be better even than diesel, since electric motors are torque monsters by their very nature, and that torque is available instantly. They might have to modify the motor design to add gearing, since the standard Tesla motor is a fixed ratio sealed unit, and some applications I can see needing multiple ratios (like super granny gearing for getting a heavy load moving, then upshifting to maintain speed).

      • Actually, nuclear is the most “carbon friendly” form of energy, and the Europeans and Chinese are moving heavily towards molten salt reactors that generate a LOT less waste, and can’t be used to breed plutonium or other fissile materials for weapons use. Some designs are also expressly designed to use the waste products from standard light water reactors, after reprocessing, and can utilize all that radioactivity to generate power. I’d much rather reuse that crap than stick it in a hole in the ground and hope that it doesn’t go anywhere for the next million years or so.

        Barring that, of the hydrocarbon based electrical production technologies, yes, natural gas is the cleanest of the bunch.

        And I’d drive a Tesla any day of the week, or even a Volt. Stopping and reversing the infringements on my 2A rights for doing so would make every day seem like Christmas day.

        • Show me where you can charge your car using that stuff today and how much it costs. NG is here now, the technology is simple and it is cheap.

          Frankly, I’m looking forward to the day that solar is a big producer, but it aint gonna be today or tomorrow.

        • MSR is ready in a year or two – the reactors have been built and tested successfully for extended periods. Throw a few billion at it and it’s ready.They’re inherently safe (reaction stops the minute you quit stirring the pot), they’re inherently cheap, they are small enough to have one for your apartment complex, the fuel is readily available, and plentiful. Oh yeah, almost no long-lived by product to dispose of.

          They were to be the next step in reactor tech, and we could have been building them for the last 40 years, saving all the oil for those few things that actually don’t have good options.

          Why haven’t we? Really simple, the DoE and the AEC aren’t in the business of energy, they’re in the business of coming up with bomb material. MSRs don’t generate any.

          Don’t fear though, like all sorts of other things we shortsightedly ignore the rest of the world has picked up the ball and run with it. The Chinese, Israelis, and Indians are all working the final development of the work that the US Taxpayer did all the groundwork on. We’ll see them soon powering Chinese cities on our coal-fired TV sets…

        • In our latest foreign policy debacle did the Iranians agree only to build molten salt reactors that are free of fissionable materials, or was that detail also deemed irrelevant?

    • Great idea – let’s cut a deal with the lefties to protect our god-given rights. I’m sure that will work and cannot forsee any possible issue with bartering our ability to freely move around with such fine and upstanding folks as those that incorrectly refer to themselves as liberals.

      Not to mention that the entire premise of your post is off – why would we give up gasoline powered cars when they are a cheap and abundant source of energy?

      I’d be more of a believer in man-made global warming if the only solution to it wasn’t just another major tax on the middle class.

    • Control begets control. Every issue the loons win on means more people to focus on the remaining.

    • It’s on the lower part of the frame, between the trigger and cylinder. AND her thumb is on the hammer.

      She’s doing fine.

  3. Somehow I get the feeling that none of that stuff happened to her. Seeing as this is a publication prone to making things up, like rape. And I seriously doubt she could ‘nail a coyote’ at a hundred yards with that 2-1/2″ barreled Judge.

    • Yep. These liberal being harassed by someone things, and anything rolling stone says, tend to turn out to be false. And she probably made up the fracking thing as a cover for being a bad midwife, and apparently several local medical professionals contend.

  4. Lefty activists are perfectly happy to let one heartfelt issue go in order to gain traction on another. Don’t expect consistency from a leftist.

  5. Actually, this is pretty straightforward to explain: Self Defense for people we agree with, ok. Self Defense for OFWG, not so much.

  6. If they don’t like fracking, bring back the coal industry. What the left doesn’t get is that you can’t wipe out an entire industry in a region of the country with out providing a new one for them to feed their families. Obviously we are not going to be in favor of a person being threatened or intimidated for their beliefs, but this is a pretty basic concept.

    • Seems to me that rural Utah was doing just fine before the oil companies showed up. And when they are done doing what they came to do, they will leave feeling no regret over all the jobs that will be lost, and will do noting to replace them. Or, unless required by the government, to clean up any environmental damage they’ve done.

      • Next time you blame the worlds ills on oil companies, instead of the term “oil company” use the phrase “millions of other Americans who want to heat their homes in the winter and drive their cars to work.” And no I am not paid by oil companies. I just like heating my house and driving to work.

    • The left doesn’t care. No jobs in those areas anymore? Not their problem. Those people can either A. Die, or B. Pack up, move to an urban sewer where there might be some type of job, and assimilate with the progressives. When you think about it, the former sounds better than the latter.

  7. C’mon, man. It’s Rolling Stone, the home of false rape allegations. This article isn’t in favor of self defense generally or guns specifically. It’s in favor of hating and dealing death to capitalists, oil men and other “despoilers” of the economy or the environment.

    Moreover, if Donna was Don, I don’t think that RS would have been so enamored with him.

    • Yep Ralph-she’s cool ’cause she’s against “despoiling nature”( or is it making $?). BTW my brothers wife had NINE kids born with a mid-wife(one shouldn’t have been-he has cerebral palsy)…

    • As another poster already stated, I thought this was going to be about Paul McCartney. But in the end, it’s just another anti-capitalist screed.

  8. Most likely the Stoners don’t much care about a grandma in the middle of nowhere who happens to have a gun in her house. Just as long as she doesn’t try to bring it to their gun-free urban utopia where it could eliminate half the population.

  9. Lawful self protection for a science challenged environmentalist saving babies, living smack dab in the middle of nowhere….got it and I’m all the better knowing.

  10. Well, everybody pretty much seems to have it: there is no “surprise” here. As far as RS is concerned, Ms. Young is one of the “right” people, who of course shouldn’t have to deal with the same strictures placed on the “not right” people, whether it involves guns, shaping their “scientific” statements to actual facts and science, or any number of other issues.

  11. I’m afraid the merits of fracking make it look pretty bad. I was exposed to the technology in 1967 and did my JHS science fair project on the consequences of using the technology. Back then the price of high-test gas was 22 cents. Fracking was bringing new life told dry or “slow” performing wells, but it was so expensive that it wasn’t worthwhile. That, plus the environmental damage is severe. The chemicals used to make “mud” flow along with truck-fulls of water used – and cannot be re-used were spilled onto the ground, soaking into the water table. The smell it leaves behind if pervasive and lasts even after you go home & take a shower. These are the chemicals that the oil companies refuse to divulge because of being “trade secrets”.

    Having so much oil makes it impossible to argue for renewable energy investment and the alarm over our warming environment is beaten up by big business’ anti-environment sentiment. It will be the downfall of our planet, our only home within trillions of parsecs of empty space.

    Kind of hard to appreciate the need or rationale for something so immediately destructive, much less for the long-term generational effects of its “benefits” of our enjoying “cheap” gas. Nobody looks at the real costs.

    • Yes, we’re using the exact same technology to hydraulically fracture today as we did 52 years ago.

    • This is 2015. I live in the middle of more fracked wells than you can imagine. From the back of my property, I can see a well site and one of my community water wells. My house actually is on top of a fracked well. People are living breathing, eating and drinking in this neighborhood, just like they did before the wells were drilled. Little to no difference.

        • I agree that if there is a problem it is associated with the waste water, but that isn’t the case that many people make. Every part of the process has dire consequences according to some. I’ve sat trough meetings and heard more BS than you can shake a stick at. Of course we also have Yoko Ono running around saying that fracking “ruins the land”. If that were the case, I’d be screwed

        • Have you sat in on the meetings where they try to intimidate the head of the state geological survey into altering their findings on fracking/wastewater injection effects? Oil runs my state, believe me, I’ve seen more corruption than you can you can shake a stick at.

  12. Not sure about fracking? On the fence? Ambivalent, even?

    I don’t know, you could like… actually DO A LITTLE RESEARCH, instead of happily proclaiming your ignorance? After all, we have this newfangled thing called a SEARCH ENGINE.

    It HAS caused earthquakes. It HAS polluted groundwater. But someone whose politics we disdain has complained about it enough that industry thugs have threatened her bodily harm and tried to poison her livestock.

    She must be some kind of nut.

    • I don’t know what you’re on about, but the only thing I get from this writeup is “LOOK! Rolling Stone has a blatant double standard!”

    • Can’t speak for everybody else, but my disdain is chiefly directed against Rolling Stone here, and to the extent that it is directed more generally, it is to the typical liberal notion that the elites who know more than anybody about anything need not be constrained by the restrictions they want to impose on the hoi polloi.

  13. Google “gasland tap water fraud” and “gasland 2 hose hoax.” There is a cost to progress. You can thank all of the hacking asthmatics in Houston for your gasoline, the black lung having coal miners for your electricity, etc. Frankly even if the water was being contaminated I would suck it up and buy stock in ozarka, because the advantages of energy independence so far outweigh those of the environmentalists who are perpetrating this fraud.

  14. As far as I know, the great geophyisicist Matt Damon has declared fracking to be a bad thing. If your local water table lies at 30,000 ft below the surface, where the fracking usually is, you should be afraid!

  15. I’m thinking that RS doesn’t know the definition of literally. Unless a barrel of oil and a few of his petroleum based companions started nailing two by fours, laying tile and brushing paint on an entire town…eh…nevermind, this is making me figuratively insane.

  16. To borrow a phrase used on this blog, “Liberalism is a mental disorder”.

    That is because liberals must constantly maintain and defend multiple mutually exclusive political positions. In this case, the anti-gun venom had to be displaced by anti-fracking. In Texas recently, the liberals had to simultaneously decry the racisim/islamophobia when a mulsim child brought a suspicious item into the school (“see something, say something” and “zero tolerance for weapons”). A racism charge trumped the equally loved zero tolerance meme. And no liberal found the situation ironic, much less stupid.

  17. Instead of trusting just one opinion couldn’t it vary? What if some ground water is affected? What if the regulations are too strict? What if they aren’t strict enough? Why trust a company that’s only interest is profit with your health? How did that work out for coal miners? The rich guys aren’t there. Why trust govt bureaucrats with your health?

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