Editorial: Opportunity to hold
September 24, 2011
The way to increase funding for Moffat County schools is to pave the way for oil and gas development, not impede it.
You want more money to flow into Craig schools?
One of the ways of having it waits on the corner of Ranney and First streets.
The rig that sits idle there could pump a rich revenue stream into this county, and part of it would go to the Moffat County School District.
But, there's a problem.
The rig can't get to its destination because Colorado Department of Transportation officials are standing in its way. It's been grounded for five weeks, and it could be stuck for a while as a CDOT and Shell Oil Company, which contracted the rig, hash out an agreement.
In Wednesday's editorial, the Editorial Board opposed Proposition 103, a November ballot question that includes economy-crippling tax hikes.
Now, it offers a solution: take full advantage of this county's resources to help fund public schools.
But, that can't happen unless companies are allowed to drill.
The Editorial Board isn't in favor of rampant development. Sullying the air, water and soil is too high a price to pay for development.
But, regulations are in place to make companies care about the environment. The oil and gas industry is regulated enough — it's time for the government to get out of the way and let these companies get to work.
Yes, CDOT has the responsibility to ensure the rig doesn't wreck local roads while en route to its destination. But, this five-week delay is disheartening.
And, it's a perfect opportunity for Gov. John Hickenlooper to make good on his promise to cut red tape in Colorado. He should come to Moffat County, scissors in hand, and help get this rig on the road.
The issue isn't just with CDOT. Other government entities and local naysayers have had a hand in quashing development that could bring in vital industries and make the county virtually recession proof.
Time is crucial. If Shell gets the idea that it's not wanted in Moffat County, it will take its business — and its potential millions — somewhere else.
It's happened before.
When former Gov. Bill Ritter put the kibosh on mineral development in Vermillion Basin a few years ago, energy companies moved out to more promising destinations out of state.
There's no question Moffat County is capable of cashing in on its rich resources. One company has already made a commitment to working here, and more could follow.
And, if they do, local schools wouldn't be the only ones to benefit. This kind of development could open doors to new cash flows even during a recession, which would be a boon to the entire county.
But bureaucracy and long delays could greatly hinder the chances of that opportunity becoming reality.
And, if it doesn't, county residents will regret it for a long time to come.