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Save a Job. Kill a Prairie Dog.

Oil and gas company propaganda trots out old 'jobs v. environment' canard. A Denver Post columnist responds 'Oh yeah? We'll take our environment over your jobs!'

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association and the Colorado Petroleum Association must have a lot of money, what with record profits for the industry and tens of thousands of new wells proposed in the state over the next 10-20 years.

But rather than spend it on, say, trying to be good corporate citizens, they're buying full-page ads in newspapers, air time on TV and radio, and mailing glossy brochures to convince folks that rules proposed by the state to protect water and wildlife from the coming drilling onslaught will result in mass unemployment, home foreclosures, and the end of Colorado's economy. 

Their ominous tagline about the rules is "Certain species are covered. People are not."  The villain threatening family income:  that flea-infested vermin, the prairie dog.  (Never mind that prairie dogs have lost 99 percent of their population over the last two centuries, something that led the flaming moderates at the National Wildlife Federation to petition for their protection under the Endangered Species Act a decade ago.)

The company line is baloney, of course.  While the proposed rules could require certain companies to cease operations for 90 days during winter months, those rules will only impact companies that refuse to work with the Colorado Division of Wildlife to fashion development plans.  In other words, if you refuse to take reasonable steps to protect wildlife, you may have to pay a price for that.  Work with the wildlife experts, and you have little to fear.

Ed Quillen, a long-time writer with a sense of history and community at the Denver Post, put it far better than I ever could in a column in Sunday's paper.  He ends a great analysis of the oilies' ads with these zingers.

Let's face it. The drillers are here for one purpose: To make as much money as they can, as fast as they can, just like the earlier gold and silver mine owners.

If it's asking too much for them, in the process of sending Colorado natural gas to California, to follow some rules to protect our property — our wildlife and our water — then goodbye and good riddance, the sooner the better.

You tell 'em, Ed!

Outdoor writers Dave Buchanan at the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel and Charlie Meyers at the Denver Post have also taken on industry in defense of reasonable regulations.  (Earthjustice is in the fray too, with attorney Mike Freeman representing conservation groups in the rulemaking process.)

The artifical 'jobs versus environment' construct has been exploded many times over the years.  And Colorado Governor Bill Ritter seems to get it.  He's made attracting cleaner energy companies (solar, wind) to the state a centerpiece of his administration.  Let's hope he stands up to the oil and gas bullies and their misinformation campaign.

Tags:  Oil

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