The boasts of oil wealth in Colorado by our government should bring alarms to every resident on the Western Slope, especially in light of a number of oil-related events last Thursday.On that day, Sen. Orrin Hatch proclaimed during a Senate Energy Committee meeting, “North America has a solution that meets the scale of the energy problem.” Of course, he was speaking of Western Colorado. The energy problem is titanic, of course, because our current fuels are not sustainable. And neither is the oil buried in our state’s shale. It’s sad to see intelligent people think so shallowly about our “solutions.”Yet, it’s happening. On that same day, a public hearing was held in Grand Junction to discuss the impact of oil development. The last time a major wave of drilling happened, the government ignited a nuclear weapon underground as part of “Project Rullison” to free oil from the shale. The residents showed up, but because of a lack of space, more than 60 of them had to sit in the building next door and watch the hearing on a television screen. Not good for public sentiment, surely.And then there’s Alaska – another Thursday topic. With gasoline prices around $3 a gallon, the U.S. House again voted to approve drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It was at least the 12th time the House had voted to allow energy exploration in Alaska, and it is, again, an attack on the last pristine areas in our country.Plus, on that same “Oil Thursday,” the Justice Department and the State of Alaska announced they would seek $92 million more from Exxon Mobil to clean up stubborn patches of oil, whose most toxic components, they say, have not dissipated since the spill in 1989. Total cost so far: $900 million.With no real renewable energy push happening on the Federal level, oil drilling in Colorado is a crisis that will impact the entire region. We should learn from Alaska, and not try to mimic it. There, with peak output in the past, oil companies are pulling out of the North Shore, leaving empty pipes, delapidated fields and one messy environment.We, and representatives like Sen. Ken Salazar who are pushing for drilling, should have more pride in our own state and push toxic companies away. Look anywhere in the world at the oil industry, and one thing becomes clear: the stain will stay, while the money, eventually, leaves.
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