What do you get when you pull Uncle Sam’s finger? A mild-mannered super-molecule named methane. Methane is an invisible gas with super power. It can heat your home, cook your food, run your car and create electricity to power your computer and your toaster. It helps make plastics and petroleum and chemicals and asphalt and cement and fertilizer and the paper you’re reading. It’s everywhere. It’s all around us. It’s here in Silt, and Uncle Sam needs it.
Uncle Sam knows we Americans have a healthy appetite for gas. By world standards, U.S. consumption of natural gas is obscene. A mere 280 million Americans consume as much gas as 3 billion Europeans and Asians. That’s a lot of pulled fingers.
There’s a war going on, and Uncle Sam knows we need to protect our way of life, our standard of living, our economy, our bank accounts, our bottom line, our greedy ways. It’s good for the economy when we buy all sorts of frivolous crap, and cheap fuel aids that pursuit.
Unfortunately, when fuel supplies get low and foreign countries refuse to live up to our expectations, frivolous consumption declines and our economy suffers. When this happens, we have two choices according to Uncle: A. We can invade a foreign country, crush their bad leader and inspire the survivors to give us cheap fuel for stabilizing their region; or B. We can look for fuels in our own backyard.
While “Plan A” looks good on paper, it may get messy and take too much time. In our “we know what we want and we want it now” economy, “Plan B” makes a great short-term solution.
When our leader looked to Florida for fuel, the dimple chadded voters turned him down to protect their beachfront economy. When our leader turned to Alaska’s ANWR, voters everywhere chimed in to protect that national treasure. When our leader looked to Colorado he found paydirt. There’s plenty of methane buried here and plenty of politicians who don’t support local-control issues when it comes to oil and gas. In fact, natural-gas extraction is good for campaign contributions AND the economy.
The people from Sugarland, Texas, are obviously doing very well. I saw another convoy of their trucks heading out of Mamm Creek just the other day. I met another economy helper at Tuesday’s gas meeting in Silt. Doug DeNio told me his group had spent between five and six hundred thousand dollars over the last few years trying to defend their properties. Other resident victims have been forced to get water tests and surveys and lawyers. They’ve had to repair water wells and fences and roads and have had to pay for all sorts of associated gas-related expenses. It’s good for the economy.
When a gas company knocks on your front door and tells you that your front yard has been chosen for a drill site, you only have about 30 days to make arrangements. This can inspire spending to the umpth degree. Nose plugs for the diesel fumes wafting through the air, ear plugs for the industrial-sized bombardment of noise, new curtains or shades to block out the flood lights that are on all night, face-masks to block out the dust … it’s all money that feeds our economy.
When you’re cooking a steak on your gas grill, try to ignore the thoughts of people like Tim Trulove. When a gas well moved in, all he could think of to say was, “It’s a horror story.”
Well sure, it’s a horror story for him, but you’re different. You don’t have a gas well in your face, you have a nice sizzling steak.
Just think of Tim as collateral damage on the road to a juicy economy.
All of those NIMBYs don’t think about anyone but themselves, do they?
So what if the gas companies take a few acres of your land.
So what if you get to pay the taxes on the land they use.
So what if your property values plummet.
So what if they don’t reclaim the land properly.
So what if your water gets contaminated.
So what if you listen to round-the-clock noise.
So what if you lose your privacy.
So what if your quality of life deteriorates.
So what if you have to spend money to repair and protect your property.
So what if you live in a sacrifice zone.
So what if a 1000 more wells come into the valley in two years.
So what if gas wells hurt tourism … wait a minute …
It suddenly kind of makes you wish Uncle Dick Cheney was the Uncle Sam of Iraq, doesn’t it?
Silt resident Bernie Boettcher’s column runs every other Thursday in the Post Independent.
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