Editorial: Routt County’s folly could be Craig’s gain
January 7, 2012
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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