Drilling effects get focus at DNC | AspenTimes.com

Drilling effects get focus at DNC

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” Thousands of people at the Democratic National Convention are getting an up-close look at Denver as well as the Rocky Mountain West.

The National Wildlife Federation and the Colorado and Wyoming Wildlife Federations want to give convention attendees a closer look at how energy development ” one of the most important issues in this year’s general election ” is affecting northwest Colorado and Wyoming.

The wildlife organizations joined with The Story Group, a Boulder-based multimedia journalism group, to produce three videos that they say show the impacts of the drilling boom in northwest Colorado and Wyoming “through the voices of Westerners who live and work on the land.”

One of those videos, “Voices from the West: Living with the Oil and Gas Boom,” was shown to hundreds of people at the Big Tent ” which is a large gathering of bloggers at the DNC convention, said Steve Torbit, the NWF’s regional executive director.

The video’s display came on Wednesday during a panel about energy development in the western United States, he said.

The short video focuses on the lives of ranchers and others in northwest Colorado and Wyoming and on how they’ve dealt with the effects of large-scale natural gas development around them. Torbit said the people in the videos are “real Western people” and not “San Francisco liberals.”

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“We are not against (natural gas development), but we have to do it a better way,” he said.

Two other videos produced by The Story Group focus on the gas-rich Piceance Basin in northwest Colorado and the area near Pinedale, Wyoming, another region undergoing rapid natural gas development.

Torbit said the videos are important because so many people across the nation are focused on issues surrounding energy development, but that many don’t have an idea about what people in natural gas-producing areas in Colorado and Wyoming are going though.

“There are real lives and real lifestyle consequences to what is going on,” he said.

Drilling in Garfield County and northwest Colorado has become an integral part of the area’s economy, along with tourism, hunting and fishing.

“Natural gas development and other natural resource industries are playing an increasingly important role in the northwest Colorado economy,” according to a recent study commissioned by Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado that focused on Garfield, Mesa, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties.

In June, more than 2,000 industry workers, ranchers, mineral owners and others turned out for a public hearing in Grand Junction about proposed oil and gas rules.

Many of them warned about the possible economic impacts the rules could have on communities of the Western Slope.

Currently, there are about 7,500 operating wells in northwest Colorado, and it is estimated that another 50,000 additional wells may be drilled in the next 30 years, according to the study.

The videos produced by The Story Group are available at http://www.thestorygroup.org/NWF.html.

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