Don’t sacrifice Roan Plateau to a bankrupt energy policy |

Don’t sacrifice Roan Plateau to a bankrupt energy policy

A couple of aerial photographs of the effect of drilling activities north of I-70 west of Rifle, which appeared in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent a week ago provide a shocking insight into what the future holds for millions of acres of the Rocky Mountain West from Montana to New Mexico.

It looks like the area had been the victim of a cluster bombing attack. With all the drill pads and access roads, it looks like urban sprawl with only the foundations completed.

There is no question that our country has a serious energy shortage. There is also no question that where drilling companies hold the mineral rights on private property they have the right to drill.

The same is true of the vast majority of public lands under the management of the Bureau of Land Management and the National Forest Service.

But the oil industry and the Bush Administration, which appears to be its lackey, are not satisfied unless they can drill wherever they want to, including national parks and national monuments, and areas of special environmental significance which could qualify them for wilderness designation. A prime example of the latter in our area is the Roan Plateau.

Is no part of our public lands safe from the ravages of extractive industry, no matter how special? Must they have it all? And if they drill it all, what will we do for energy when the last well goes dry? Must we sacrifice every last special place to the power of industry?

The Roan Plateau is a unique, precious, and fragile ecosystem. It occupies only 6 percent of the gas province of which it is a part. Nearly all of the communities in the area have filed requests with the BLM to rule out drilling in its management plan for the Roan Plateau. Extensive public comment has supported no drilling on the Plateau by a margin of 20 to 1. Yet the Bush Administration (which gives lip service to listening to local opinion) is dead set on opening virtually all federal lands to drilling.

The Bush program – keep on drilling just like we always have – is solid evidence that this administration does not really have an Energy Plan. It is committed to the energy plan of the past, which is a bankrupt plan leading only to a dead end as the gas and oil supplies go into decline.

A real energy plan would prepare us for the time when current energy sources are no longer adequate to supply our needs by developing and implementing a program for energy conservation and alternative energy sources in time to keep us from having to frantically scratch for every last bit of oil and gas on the planet. Write to our Congressmen and Senators and ask them to change the direction of the Bush Administration’s energy policy.

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