Dear Editor:Contrary to the express wishes of Gov. Bill Ritter, Sen. Ken Salazar, Rep. Mark Udall and many locals, the Bush administration is pushing ahead with its proposed plans for high density drilling of the Roan Plateau. The isolation and natural beauty of this site has long been a mainstay of the local economy by attracting many outdoor sports enthusiasts. It is ironic that this effort is being driven by a Republican-led government, one of whose priorities is supposedly taking power away from the federal government and giving it back to the locals.As far as our addiction to oil goes, the Iraq invasion has proved to be quite a disappointment. In these newest plans for invading the pristine wilderness of the Roan Plateau, Coloradans should seriously question what seems to be a fundamental assumption of the administration: i.e., that just because it’s public lands means it is open for exploitation by gas and oil companies.It is true that we need new energy sources. But, far from being able to fill the bottomless pit of our addiction to oil, drilling in the Roan Plateau will only end up turning our geography of hope into one more landscape of failed desire, recreating the dark side of the American Dream. Is this what we westerners really want?The true West differs from the East in one great and pervasive way: space. As Wallace Stegner has pointed out, we westerners live outdoors more than people elsewhere because the outdoors is mainly what we’ve got. We don’t have to own the outdoors in order to use it. It is public lands, partly ours, and that space is a continuing influence on our minds and senses. If we end up allowing this exploitation of our public lands for the sake of a short-term fix, what are we left with?Our nation once fought a civil war over our addiction to slave labor as an easy source of expendable energy. If we do not fight this latest form of exploitation, we will share a common guilt for crimes against the land that are strikingly reminiscent of those committed in the throes of our other national addiction.Joel BrenceAspen
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