It seems strangely ironic that we are to lament the slowdown in gas drilling, according to some in our county government. The worldwide recession actually is slowing environmental degradation, leading to less fossil-fuel extraction and greenhouse gases. How strange that using fewer nonrenewable resources is bad for the economy but good for our environment. On the other hand, cultivating our renewable resources would be good for both our economy and the environment.
Our county government continues to rely on building its tax revenue on a peaked San Juan Basin coal-bed methane field. It is not good economic policy to build our future on a boom-bust gas industry that degrades our air and water quality, then leaves when the resource is extracted, taking the jobs and leaving behind the toxic mess.
County government should encourage the conservation of resources, not their exploitation. Gas drilling has serious consequences to our environment and our quality of life. Short-term, cheap taxes now will make for excessively higher taxes for our children, who will pay not only for short-sighted county government policy, but also for cleaning up a toxic landscape.
County Assessor Craig Larson could not have been more transparent when he was quoted in the Herald saying, "We may have overdrilled ourselves for the time being."
Our county government needs to start thinking about the future, confronting the reality of climate change and fostering sustainable economic development. There is a growing body of literature on creating local, sustainable government that I suggest our county government officials begin reading.