Where Can We Say ‘Yes’ To Oil And Gas?


January 19, 2015 | High Country News | Sarah Gilman

The latest issue of High Country News focuses on the future of environmental thought, and writer Sarah Gilman tackles a question we energy reporters often wonder about with opposition to oil and gas development: If not here, then where? If you don’t want to see pumpjacks and drilling rigs from your driveway, then where would you be comfortable seeing them? It’s something our reporter Dan Boyce has touched on in the debate over oil and gas development on the Front Range of Colorado.

Gilman also begins her quest for answers on the Front Range, in her hometown of Boulder, Colo., which she describes as “an epicenter of anti-fracking sentiment.” Her journey takes her to the high desert canyons outside Vernal, Utah, a place where wilderness and conservation advocates have agreed to accept more oil and gas development in exchange for protecting more pristine areas. Is this the right place for development? There are no easy answers, but she comes to a sort of realization on her way back home that might make her anti-fracking neighbors in Boulder cringe.

“If we’re worried about peoples’ health and welfare, and if we truly value the wilder parts of the world, then our wealthy and bustling suburbs and cities are exactly where we should be drilling. Not because anyone deserves the accompanying nightmares, but because no one does.”

If you oppose the process to extract something you depend on, it’s a good debate to have with yourself. If not here, then where?