Editorial: Routt County’s folly could be Craig’s gain

Craig Editorial Board, Jan. to March 2012

  • Al Cashion, community representative
  • Jeff Pleasant, community representative
  • Bryce Jacobson, newspaper representative
  • Bridget Manley, newspaper representative
  • Chris Nichols, community representative
  • Josh Roberts, newspaper representative

Our View

Companies shouldn’t be allowed to plunder the habitat, but imposing tighter restrictions on oil and gas development — as a working group in Routt County is planning to do — is wrong. The energy industry is regulated enough already.

Editorial board members had to shake their heads and smile Tuesday at a new plan afoot in Routt County.

A working group there is pushing forward with tighter regulations on oil and gas development within the county’s boundaries. These new conditions would go beyond the energy restrictions already in place at the state level.

Energy development shouldn’t be allowed to wreck the natural landscape, but this latest push to muzzle progress goes too far.

The oil and gas industry is regulated enough. The state already has plenty of stopgaps in place to prevent companies from pillaging the environment.

Not that the editorial board is complaining. Moffat County stands to benefit from this group’s well intentioned but misguided efforts.

Companies that considered drilling in Routt County may have second thoughts if the restrictions there get tighter, and they may consider Moffat County an attractive alternative.

If so, Moffat County officials and residents should be at the county line to welcome them. The local economy is too fragile to allow any potential prospect to slip by unnoticed.

More oil and gas activity brings a host of profitable developments, not only jobs and their contribution to the local economy, but also financial backing for community projects.

About 100 miles north, energy companies have backed projects that are turning Wamsutter, Wyo., from a mere bedroom community into a town in its own right.

Closer to home in Baggs, Wyo., Devon Energy put out $500,000 to make the Valley Community Center there.

The same could happen in Craig. These companies are often obligated to give back to the communities they operate in and around.

Growth also brings challenges, like rising costs in services and goods. Development has always been a double-edged sword, but it’s no reason to drive it away with draconian rules.

To be clear, the editorial board doesn’t advocate for economic growth at the price of the environment. The natural vistas in this rugged country deserve protection from companies that would pillage it for their own gain.

But, the protections are already in place, and the role of local and state government now is to stay out of the way.

Energy companies should be allowed to do their job, not be held captive by stifling regulations.

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Comments

leroymcgee 2 years, 6 months ago

Wow, more grandstanding and strawmen arguments from this editorial board. Not only does Mr. Jacobsen and the rest of the board show some ignorance about how oil and gas development actually occurs, but it seems they don't even read their sister publication The Steamboat Pilot. From last week:

Steve Lindsey, senior director of governmental affairs and community relations for Quicksilver Resources, which has drilled one well in western Routt County and is pursuing several more, told the group that strong regulations are in his company’s best interests.

“Our desire is to have as robust a set of regulatory (provisions) as we can because it helps us as an operator,” Lindsey said.

Not exactly "second thoughts"...

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citizensforgrowth 2 years, 6 months ago

Why would this be a good thing for Moffat county? Companies drill for oil or gas based on where the product is,not what regulations are in place. Though regulations can certainly influence the decision. This idea that companies will come rushing to us to drill because of that is idiotic. If there is more to drill for in Routt county then that is where they will drill. Your comment about the Baggs community center tells me what your true motives are. Since the community is currently unwilling to take on the funding of another "must have" project,maybe we can get some company to build it for us. A better and more growth oriented use of that money would be to invest it in bringing other businesses to our area through incentives . That would bring in more money over the long run versus your lets take the money and build a rec center plan.

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cory5611 2 years, 6 months ago

And we can drill under the fair grounds and then we should drill under the court house and every other thang these county commish want drilled in town but there own land how bout leasing out under there house lets see if its worth them lining there pockets

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 6 months ago

American Airlines has filed Chapter 11, citing years of high fuel prices as among the most prominent reasons. AA sends a 737 and a 757 daily to YVRA during the season. It is communities like ours that will eat some of the first bullets fired from the left's punitive energy policies.

We don't rely on foreign oil because we don't have enough of our own. It is a reliance mandated by an intrusive government arbitrarily dictating which of our own resources we can and cannot extract. Colorado & Wyoming boast deposits which rival those of Saudi Arabia. Throw in the reserves beneath a rock quarry called ANWR, along with the offshore deposits, and we could easily meet our energy needs for the next century. Not to mention the job creation and economic growth that would result.

On the other hand, we could cave to the NIMBYs and continue to rely on hostile regimes for the energy we need. Prices go up and the economic hole gets even deeper.

Jet A is $7.38/gallon today at YVRA. Care to speculate what happens to our local economy when it climbs to $9, $10, or $11?

Drill, baby drill!

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leroymcgee 2 years, 6 months ago

Hey Spicoli,

As of 2011, the US actually is a net exporter of refined petroleum products. Drilling in Routt or Moffat Counties will have zero effect on those prices you cite. But, it would be nice. Maybe you should start a home refinery and see if you can out compete the global oil market...

Oh, and the US gets a vast majority of its crude imports from those "hostile regimes" in Canada (scary!) and Mexico (boo!). Again, nice try. Hope that kool-aid you're drinking tastes like fracking fluid.

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 6 months ago

U.S. crude imports by supplier (barrels per month):

Opec: 132,271 Canada: 83,452 Mexico: 26,474 Total U.S. imports per month: 340,821. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration http://38.96.246.204/dnav/pet/pet_move_impcus_a2_nus_ep00_im0_mbbl_m.htm

Total U.S. exports per month: 96,233. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration http://205.254.135.7/dnav/pet/pet_move_exp_dc_NUS-Z00_mbbl_m.htm

I gather that Spicoli must be a pop-culture referent that I'm just not hip to. I suspect it's not a compliment. Most impressive! I don't think I've been so thoroughly chastened since Ronnie Heffler called me a doodie head in the second grade. You should start a debate team, Leroy. You're truly formidable. Really.

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leroymcgee 2 years, 6 months ago

From the wall street journal:

"According to data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration on Tuesday, the U.S. sent abroad 753.4 million barrels of everything from gasoline to jet fuel in the first nine months of this year, while it imported 689.4 million barrels."

So, maybe China and Canada should be complaining about that "intrusive government" that you've invented, since they're the ones that are buying our petroleum products. Again, global market...

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 6 months ago

Nice example of taking a single statistic out of context in service to personal axe-grinding. It's useful to define petroleum “products” - as we are able to use our own refining capacity to produce the finished products that countries like Brazil, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain, Guatemala, Canada, France, Argentina, & Turkey can't turn out on their own. Crude is the grist for that mill, and the import v. export numbers on that score are undeniable.

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leroymcgee 2 years, 6 months ago

My point stands that this "intrusive government" you talk about only exists in your own head. Mr. Lindsey of Quicksilver says he welcomes regulation and that it actually "helps" his business, not hurts it as you seem to portray. So, keep believing the multimillion dollar lobbying companies and paid hacks at the trade groups. I'll believe the guys who actually work in the industry here in the Yampa Valley.

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 6 months ago

You're wearing an impressive set of blinders. Coal produces quite a number of jobs in these parts; let's start there. We have sufficient domestic deposits to keep us supplied for 3 centuries, at current consumption rates. The industry has be relentlessly attacked, in a campaign that has ramped up considerably over the last decade. Google 'Montgomery County, Maryland carbon tax'. I'll wager that the state's sole producer of electricity find their government “intrusive” - not to mention the consumers whose rates skyrocketed as a result. And there are endless additional examples. The President has made your side's position explicitly clear:

“So if someone wants to build a coal powered plant, they can. It's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wF7Qm3...

If he and his compadres on the left are able to pass cap and tax, that's exactly what will happen. I'll bet all those suddenly jobless Americans would find that a tad “intrusive.”

The President's 2011 budget imposed another $80 billion in taxes on the oil & gas industries. Congress (Dem Reps Markey & VanHollen) has introduced legislation that will retroactively change existing contracts between the government & companies presently drilling in the Gulf of Mexico; the President has indicated he'll sign it and agrees with the requirement that the companies cough up $54 billion in the name of “deficit reduction.” Costs, which will of course, be passed on to the consumer. Sounds “intrusive” to me.

LSU Prof Joseph Mason's congressional testimony last year tallied the costs of the President's Gulf drilling moratorium:

“… [O]utput losses continue to mount with stalled development in the Gulf, rising from $2.1 billion regionally and $2.8 billion nationally to $3.3 billion and $4.4 billion, respectively. Job losses are estimated to have increased from 8,000 regionally and 12,000 nationally to 13,000 regionally and 19,000 nationally. Lost wages previously estimated to amount to $500 million regionally and $700 million nationally are now $800 million regionally and $1.1 billion nationally. Finally, lost tax revenues estimated to be $100 million on the state and local level and $200 million on the national level now amount to $155 million and $350 million, respectively. ”

I'll bet the 19,000 people out of work found Big Bro to be more than a little “intrusive.”

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 6 months ago

Not only is he mucking up the works domestically, he's sticking his nose into one of our most reliable ally's affairs, by deep-sixing the Keystone Pipeline. I'm guessing the 20,000 Americans who would have been employed by the project may consider the President's decision to reek of “intrusion.”

Fact: we consume far more energy than we produce. Of the amount we import, nearly 40% is acquired from regimes who would like nothing better than to see the U.S. brought to its knees. We have the ability and the resources to produce all we need. The single biggest roadblock is government red tape.

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citizensforgrowth 2 years, 6 months ago

I dont have a problem with getting more of our oil from closer to home. It would create more jobs. But if your goal is to reduce the price of oil then that will not work. One reason is most opec countries oil companies are nationalized. The governments of these countries have their budgets based on 80-90 dollar per barrel of oil.They heavily subsidize their people with oil money. If you drill more domestically and should the price drop,opec will cut production to get the price back up. They have done this in the past. Remember when Bush was president and every time gas would spike he would fly to Saudi and kiss Arab butt to get them to raise production? They also cut production a number of times in 2008-2009 to raise the price after consumption crashed.Currently the price of oil has nothing to do with costs and hasnt for a while now. Its the latest way for speculators to make a buck The previous poster was right. Demand is so low we are exporting fuel to other countries..

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 6 months ago

citizensforgrowth:

You raise a relevant point, but it's not nearly as valid as it has been during most of my lifetime, in the wake of the massive deposits located all over the world in the last 10-20 years: Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, North Sea, & Canada; and the emergence of Russia as a major player.

Big Brother needs to get out of the way and let the chips fall where they may.

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citizensforgrowth 2 years, 6 months ago

I agree about our overzealous government needing to step aside. We do need to develop our oil producing capabilities. I see the price of oil going nowhere but up because of increasing demand on the world stage,China,India most notably.If we produce our own oil I dont think we can lower the price for reasons previously stated,but I think we can protect ourselves from wild and temporary fluctuations caused by natural and political events. But I do like the idea of using their oil up first if at all possible. `

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Brian Kotowski 2 years, 6 months ago

citizensforgrowth:

Right on the money re: China & India. The pressure they exert on the demand side of the equation is likely to make domestic production more feasible than it's been in my lifetime.

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Colette Erickson 2 years, 6 months ago

Who cares what happens to the environment, as long as we can drive F550's from home to the Wal-Mart, and keep our homes at 80 deg. all winter long, right? Conservation? Who cares, as long as we toddlers get what we want, NOW!

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citizensforgrowth 2 years, 6 months ago

I have no problem with conservation but as a long term answer it will not work. Booming populations and economies in the far east are using energy at an ever increasing annual rate that boggles the mind. If nothing is done to increase the supply of fuel to at least keep pace with the increasing demand from China and India the price of gas will go up substantially. We are consuming fuel daily at a rate not seen since the early 90 s. and despite that oil is at 100 dollars a barrel. Can you imagine what the price will be if the economy ever turns around? I would not worry too much about the f550s. We will all be on scooters soon enough.

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onewhocares 2 years, 6 months ago

Are you totally delusional Editorial Board? Have you not looked at the health of Moffat County recently? It is truly heartbreaking. Routt County is proving to be a great deal smarter and looking out for its' citizens health in the long run and trying to save the beautiful environment over there. Moffat on the other hand, is so unhealthy and lacking in positive reasons to be here anymore, all I can do is pray my child doesn't get sick (before graduating from school) from all the chemicals we in Moffat are being exposed to from industrialization: i.e: uranium tailings from prior mining, all the toxins in the air from the power plants, the chemicals used to kill mosquitoes, now the horrible chemicals used in fracking (next to our river the citizens drink from), a proposed limestone mine behind Cedar Mtn and on and on. When you drive in to Craig, it looks one huge ugly industrial park and one can only think how pathetically sad it has become here. Why would ANYONE want to move here in the future? The cancer rate is atrocious, the schools scoring low, very little to do in terms of recreation locally & now total industrialization even in our local parks. How is Routt's decision benefitting Moffat? Oh you mean, the Commissioners & Comstock's pocket book-cause you surely don't mean the citizens of Moffat County who are viewed as nothing but experiments to environmental poisons. (Should I mention the TOTAL disregard to the underground miners who sacrifice the safety of their lives every single day just going to work--now having to pray the fracking doesn't trigger local seismic activity that no body seems to care about? I do cause I know a number of awesome, hard working miners & so should the rest of Moffat County.)

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Colette Erickson 2 years, 6 months ago

Well, yes, sure "onewhocares" - apparently as long as someone gets $$$, the rest doesn't matter. At least not in Moffat County.

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