Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Summary of the Article “All Fired Up-Tapping The Rockies” by Mitchell

The article ‘All fired up-Tapping the Rockies' by John G. Mitchell appeared in July 2005 issue of National Geographic. It is an interesting commentary on energy development initiatives that are being planned for Rocky mountain region in Wyoming. The article identifies five important locations in Rocky Mountains that have been selected by the government for energy exploration. The Bureau of Land Management controls these regions and can lease them out for energy development when the right time comes. Already, Pinedale mesa has seen aggressive gas and energy development activities which have dented the beautiful landscape to a large extent. The area is laced with pipelines and there are already 500 wells that BLM plans to use for natural gas extraction purposes. The number of wells is likely to rise to more than 3,000 soon. It must be made clear that if all these regions are fully exploited, it can cause serious harm to the environment and for this reason, there is a provision in Bush administration's 2001 National energy policy report that indicates that 40 percent of natural gas resources found in Rocky Mountains will not be used because of environmental concerns. But opponents put the figures at 12 percent. It is interesting that while BLM is proposing more aggressive exploration, it has not yet fully exploited the existing leased natural gas resources. Out of close to 46,000 leases nationwide, only half were producing anything while the rest were lying idle. Why lease more land when the existing leases are not being utilized properly. Throughout this region, two types of natural gas are being targeted: tight sands gas and coal bed methane (CBM). The Powder River Basin is rich with CBM resources but extracting the gas is more costly than sands gas even though drilling costs much less. The extraction problem is also aggravated because of the water that comes out during exploration. This water has to be safely disposed off but it is highly saline and can thus cause damage to land and crops. While the officials might come up with many benefits that they feel would accrue to landowners with this kind of exploitation, the residents of the region do not agree with them. People believe that due to lack of water, the area has become unlivable. Montana's Rocky Mountain Front is another area rich in natural resources but it is less vulnerable than other parts because owners have rights to mineral under their land. However if aggressive energy developments efforts are started in this region, even these owners will be forced to allow vehicular access to neighboring wells along with pipelines and drill pads. People are furious with BLM's inability and lack of commitment to provide safer environment. Some ranchers in San Juan Basin complain that their region has become unfit for cattle because of the wells. Land erosion and pollution have made the environment hostile to cattle. The article speaks against government's energy policies and explains the environmental damages that would result due to unmitigated use of land for energy exploration. People have complained of government's failure to take into consideration environmental safeguards which has made living harder. Water resources are being brutally exploited for gas exploration when it is desperately required by the residents to meet their daily consumption needs.

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