Energy Booms and Busts: Human-caused Disasters

May 3, 2014

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans yet another assault on Americans through a proposed cancellation of 60 energy leases in Western Colorado:

Photo: Colorado families defending our right to access our natural resources against #BLM plan to void 40 year old drilling leases.

Having spent most of my life in Eastern Utah and Western Colorado, I’ve lived through my share of energy boom and bust cycles, and I can tell you that energy busts are 100% human-caused disasters. The plan to void sixty energy leases in Western Colorado is a looming BLM-caused disaster. Hundreds from Mesa and other affected counties gathered Thursday in De Beque, Colorado to protest the move by the BLM to illegally void existing contracts with private individuals and companies.

Citizens amassed in De Beque, a little town dependent almost entirely on gas, oil, coal and cows, for a meeting not originally planned by the BLM. Those whose jobs and futures are on the line had to demand that public comments be taken by the BLM from people who actually work in the energy industry after semi-secret meetings were held in the elite enclaves of Aspen, Carbondale, and the Roaring Fork Valley, where Democrat green-freak Senator Mark Udall reportedly promised his big donors the leases would be voided.

Like the confrontation in Nevada between the Bundy Family and the BLM, the “leases controversy” highlights both the overreach and the incompetence of a government bureaucracy. Unlike the Bundy Ranch saga, the De Beque meeting was about the BLM breaking the law.

The Western Colorado Field Officers of the BLM failed to do proper Environmental Impact Studies (EIS) on the disputed leases when they were first written, and because of their bureaucratic omission will either illegally break contracts between the consenting parties, or initiate a protracted new EIS process that will take a minimum of two years, potentially leaving leaseholders and energy businesses in limbo.

The producing wells within the sixty leased patches have been compliant with no major environmental incidents. Those who oppose the leases  do so largely on the basis of popular anti-fracking mythology. Make that anti-fracking “doctrine.” Anti-frack hysterics turn pragmatic economic argument into religious debates. Through portraying the fracking/drilling industry a moral evil, the green left perpetuates a pseudo-religious premise wherein opposition to their stance constitutes sin.

Green energy is a subject of worship with little or no thinking behind the devotion of its followers. Greenies base their hatred of gas, oil and coal on a religious feeling. Despite economic, ecological, and scientific evidence that refutes their doctrine, they relentlessly pursue “killing the big bad fracking devil,” not because the devil actually does bad things or causes bad things to happen, but because their religious leaders and doctrine tell them to.

The conflict in Western Colorado is, in some ways, between the elite Aspen aerie-dwellers–coastal transplants who spend part of the year in  massive mountainside homes, burning massive amounts of natural gas for their heated rooms and hot showers, and guzzling massive quantities of electricity to power their gadgets and light their 12 ft picture windows that can be seen at night from miles away–and the dads who work in the oil patch and live in double-wide mobile homes or spec houses, whose kids bus the tables at the expensive restaurants where wealthy Aspenites, Carbondale trust fund hippies, and Roaring Fork Valley rich folk eat their overpriced food. The “haves” want their warm, well-lit protected elitist enclaves, their outsized SUVs, and ready air travel from Aspen and Eagle airports, but they are appalled that a wellhead, drilling pad, fracking operation, or the sweaty working-class Joes who bring hydrocarbons up from the guts of the earth could occupy the same landscape, or the same planet. These tensions are part of a larger battle between the people who want to earn a living by making our natural resources available and cheap, and environmentalist groups who use the courts as a hammer against the energy industry.

Beyond the staggering hypocrisy is the fact that those who oppose fracking and directional drilling—which leave a relatively small surface footprint—are proponents of the “renewables;” ground-sterilizing, bird-singeing solar arrays, and eagle-whacking, bat-bludgeoning, forest-razing, migration-interrupting wind turbines.

It’s time everyone admit that WE ALL need hydrocarbons in one form or another. Modern exploration and extraction methods have less environmental impact per BTU than “green energy.”  Gas and oil development in Western Colorado will produce wealth for families, fund schools, and promote greater prosperity and freedom.  BLM cancellation of those existing leases would lead to an unnecessary and devastating human-caused disaster.

by Marjorie Haun  5/3/14

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