Editorial: Think of costs of drilling

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A recent flurry of gas activity has sparked optimism about the future of energy development in Moffat County.

Three natural gas pipelines have been proposed this year alone, and though none of the projects comes with a guarantee of increased production in the county, officials seem intrigued by the prospect of construction jobs, support industries and gas royalties that could arise.

The Craig/Moffat County Economic Development Partnership has gone so far as to send a letter to all companies with natural resource holdings in Moffat County telling them that "the local community supports an initiative to develop oil and gas reserves in Moffat County."

EDP Director Tom Flavin says the move will help in his goal to market Moffat County as the pro-energy capital of the world.

While it's true that the energy industry has long been an important part of our community and local economy, we wonder if residents have pondered the true impact of gas development, especially when coal bed methane drilling is involved.

Last month, a Wyoming rancher shared her story with local ranchers about the impact coal bed methane development has had on her property.

Nancy Sorenson said the process to extract the gas from a coal seam results in salty water that can ruin soil and vegetation. She's seen the effects first-hand and is urging Colorado landowners to lobby for protection laws.

The BLM has initiated a study to determine the feasibility of coal bed methane production in Moffat County and, for now, it doesn't appear to hold a lot of promise. Several pilot projects have been attempted in the county, but they all failed because too much water and not enough gas was found in the coal seams.

But before technology overcomes these obstacles, Moffat County residents would do well to ask themselves whether the economic benefits of oil and gas production are worth the risk of endangering the livelihood of even one local rancher.

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