Widespread public distrust of the oil industry means we’re making progress

A guest commentary in The Paper this week grabbed my attention.

Guest Commentary: Big oil should improve its image
by Philip Verleger, member of the National Petroleum Council

Actually I think their public image is right where it belongs – in the tank. I used to get survey calls about the gas industry. I could never answer the questions with “yes” or “no”. The survey callers always got an earful from me. I felt it was my job to educate them – in a really nice way – about the impacts of natural gas drilling and what it’s like to live in Gasland. They stopped calling.

The second paragraph of the commentary was most enlightening. Verleger wrote:

The surplus is so large that firms are now petitioning the government to allow exports of natural gas. Yes, that is correct, some firms are now contemplating using the very expensive liquefied natural gas facilities to export natural gas. The United States could compete with Middle Eastern countries as an exporter. A part-time Aspen resident, Charif Souki, chairman of Cheniere Energy, is one of the proponents.

So this makes me wonder if it is the inevitability of the export market opening up that made drilling on Battlement Mesa and Silt Mesa suddenly more attractive and profitable for Antero. I use the word “inevitably” because historically the industry has always gotten what it wants – one way or another. If exportation of natural gas is the motivation for Antero’s big push in Western Garfield County, it doesn’t bode well for our future. Western Garfield County will become a national sacrifice to the gods of Big Oil & Gas. We have already sacrificed the Gulf of Mexico.

The Gulf of Mexico is dying

UGH. That is way too depressing. I need a good laugh. I love this video.

Another article in The Paper this week was just plain puzzling.

Antero, citizens groups reach preliminary agreement
Drilling company will back off 10-acre spacing, for now, if county withdraws intervention

I read this article so many times my head hurt and I still don’t understand it. I think the citizens and the BOCC discussed the so-called agreement but negotiations are still ongoing. The headline is misleading. Personally, I don’t trust the heads-we-win-tails-you-lose approach. How can there be “agreement” when two different outcomes are desired? One side wants to protect and preserve our ecosystem. The other side wants to disrupt it.

I have lived in Silt for almost 15 years. During sane gas well drilling levels in the late 90’s, and insane gas well drilling levels. I have observed two things that noticeably impact the gas and oil industry – the economy and bad publicity.

For me, part of living in Silt, in Western Garfield County, has meant learning to live with the gas & oil industry. I have learned we must always be vigilant and pay attention to what they’re doing. We must keep talking about the impacts. We must defend our environment because it can’t defend itself. We must always and forever speak out.

Only 4% of those surveyed believe the gas & oil industry is “trustworthy and honest”. That tells me we’re making progress. Our voices are being heard.

“It takes a thousand voices to tell a single story”
Native American Proverb

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