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(This is the third in a series of Q & A's on the Crown of the Continent, a 10-million acre expanse of land in northern Montana and southern Canada. Gene Sentz is co-founder of the Friends of the Rocky Mountain Front, one of the organizations whose activism resulted in the banning of oil and gas leasing in the Front. To learn more about this wild place and how Earthjustice is working to protect it, check out our Crown web feature.

As oil and gas prices again climb in response to Middle East travails, the phrase “Drill, Baby, Drill” has re-entered the national conversation—but it’s President Obama who did the uttering this time. And it sounds like he means it.

Obama mentioned the mantra Tuesday night in a speech about energy independence that came across like the opening shot in his 2012 bid for reelection. Alluding to “D,B,D,” the president said this is no time to be caught up in meaningless rhetoric that stampedes us to nowhere.

Which has a worse smog problem ? The car-choked sprawling megalopolis of Los Angeles? Or the wide open plains of Wyoming?

If you guessed LA, you’d be wrong. It’s actually Wyoming.

This depressing tidbit comes courtesy of the oil and gas industry, which is in the midst of a drilling boom that has left the air in Wyoming and other areas cloaked in smog and hazardous air pollutants.

As I write this, members of the House of Representatives continue to debate and move their way through votes on hundreds of amendments to the chamber's government spending bill. The voting and debate has been a marathon process, stretching from morning through late at night for the last three days, and looks to carry on until late tonight or tomorrow.

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