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One would think from John Colson’s May 2 article that the Garfield County region was the only part of the country in recession in 1982. Perhaps a lesson in economics and history is necessary.

The story begins in 1970, when the Texas Railroad Commission lost control of world oil prices to OPEC. OPEC sent oil prices through the roof in the 1970s, leading to recessions in the mid and late 1970s. Garfield County was spared that pain, and thousands of unemployed people moved from the rust belt to this area to work in the oil shale industry.

Eventually, a combination of reduced consumption from conservation and the recession and increased supply from Alaska’s North Slope and the North Sea, among other locations, broke the OPEC stranglehold on oil prices, and oil prices dropped from $75 to $20 per barrel (2010 dollars) between 1981 and 1986. The total cost of energy dropped by a factor of two, helping to fuel one of the strongest economic growth periods in American history.



History shows that different parts of the country and economy grow and shrink at different times. The effect of the oil-shock recession was delayed in locations where the economy benefited from high oil prices and then took a hit when oil prices fell. Despite the woe-is-me persecution complex of some, Garfield County’s experience was shared by Denver, Houston, Calgary, and other oil-based economies.

The irony is that the oil companies that some people love to hate are the ones that broke OPEC’s stranglehold on our economy and provided two decades of cheap gasoline prices. Oil shale failed in 1982 not because of technology but because of a return to cheap and plentiful oil.



The question today is whether we want to allow the woe-is-me crowd to hand our future back over to OPEC or to pursue the 1.5 trillion (not billion) barrel oil-shale resource in a stepwise fashion instead of in a 1980s-style panic. If you think biofuels are the answer, get prepared for $10/gallon gasoline and far greater demands on water supplies.

Alan Burnham

Rifle

Before you decide to get a pet, any pet, be sure you have the financial means to take care of it. If not, don’t get one.

I work at a local vet clinic and also handle Garfield County impounds on the Western Slope. This last week and a half alone we have had three relinquished animals at our clinic for various reasons, and the response from all the owners, “I can’t afford that.” What happens next is they give up the animal now leaving it homeless.

It frustrates me to no end and is so preventable if people would take responsibility and realize there can be very costly expenses to owning an animal and if they don’t have the means, don’t put the animal in that situation.

You’re not doing any favors by having an animal you can’t afford, because usually the animals are the ones that pay the price for lack of medical care, no vaccinations and then becoming homeless because of these issues. Our shelters are crammed full of homeless animals – don’t contribute to an already out-of-control problem.

Patty Grace

Glenwood Springs


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