Letter: Let’s talk about planet change
I want to introduce a new issue: Planet change. Better than climate change, planet change can be touched and seen, Hopefully, it will open your eyes to the sickening destruction that has been wrought on our fabled western lands. If you happen to be in front of your computer, open Google Earth and follow along.
NASA recently released a report that there is a “permanent” 2,500 square-mile methane cloud hovering above northern New Mexico. Direct Google Earth to Durango and head south by dragging the map. Once you have figured out what a well pad looks like, you’re on your way. Hint: It doesn’t look anything like the commercials the oil companies pay for with the amber waves of grain. It’s a white barren piece of ground with some storage tanks on the pad.
Keep going south and take in the magnitude of the drilling craze. I realize that drilling requires some sacrifice, but this spider web of roads and pads seems excessive. Half of New Mexico has been surrendered to the oil companies.
Punch Vernal, Utah, into Google Earth. Vernal was recently in the papers for having an abnormally high incidence of infant stillborn deaths. No one can prove that the oil industry is responsible, and the people of Vernal don’t really care as long as they have jobs in the oil industry and a good tax base. Money talks and dead infants don’t.
South of Vernal is a massive ostrich skin of well pads dotting the Earth. Zoom down on each pad and the clarity of Google Earth will show you black lines running from each well. These are the pipelines the oil companies in all their environmental glory simply set on the ground to connect these wells. Looks beautiful from the satellite view. Can’t wait to visit.
Pinedale, Wyoming, is an eight-hour drive north of here and is a cute, little, western town on the edge of the Wind River Range. The wells there exceed the Bureau of Land Management vision of drilling by 300 percent and the little town has two ozone alerts per week in the winter.
Most important to us in the Roaring Fork Valley, punch in Silt and move the map south again. Wells butt up against houses for miles until the last one at Thompson Divide. Drag the map to Carbondale and marvel at what a small swatch of land protects this valley from fracking. That swatch, Thompson Divide, is what all the fuss is about.
I’ll be accused of hypocrisy because I use that oil and now it’s cheap allegedly because of the wells. However, even as these wells were being tapped, oil prices didn’t descend until the Saudis decided to pump more oil. As a matter of fact, the oil companies enjoyed the highest profits in the history of money and Americans got sucked dry by high gas prices. Makes me wonder about the veracity of that “hypocrite” argument and who the real hypocrites are.
We are constantly told that there is no other alternative to oil, but with oil so cheap, have we really tried? It may cost more to change our habits, but in the long run, wouldn’t we and our host planet be better off if we spent that money? Planet change is real and it may well be killing us, or perhaps a few babies.
They say that if you want to make an omelet, you have to crack a few eggs. Do we have to crack the entire carton? It’s time to draw the line. The West has sacrificed enough.