I would definitely put myself in the pro-wilderness camp, but I’m also not crazy about the throngs of tourists that crowd our streets and trails. I feel the impact that each successive big event in Moab brings.
I would love to see an increase in higher-paying jobs and help lessen the burden for those struggling to make ends meet, but creating jobs in the fossil fuel industry is not a solution if it puts at risk our most prevalent jobs – those in the recreation industry.
Please, don’t be wooed by tales of fortunes to be had. How many good-paying jobs are likely to come from increased extraction? Will these jobs require special skills or training? Are county residents likely to qualify for those jobs? Research what other fossil fuel boomtowns are experiencing. It’s well documented that residents from these towns experience increased crime rates, horrible air quality, and loss of their “old” and preferred way of life.
A recent report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that in order to keep our world from warming to dangerous levels, we need to keep 80 percent of all known fossil fuel reserves in the ground.
Some will say its radical to promote a large-scale reduction in fossil fuel extraction. What’s radical is to completely alter our world and make it uninhabitable for future generations. Some will say that designating more wilderness is an unbalanced political approach. Our planet is dangerously out of balance. Promoting “mixed uses” that foster greater fossil fuel extraction is not a balanced approach and will ultimately burden taxpayers. As our climate warms, we are likely to see increased wildfires and more frequent superstorms such as Hurricane Sandy. Local governments will be unable to absorb the economic costs they bring.
I drive a car. I’m reliant on fossil fuels. I have a fuel-efficient vehicle and live in a very energy-efficient home, but these steps only go so far. The use of hydrocarbons has become an unavoidable part of living in this world. I wish I had better options to choose from. I don’t know the best solution, but I’m sure it won’t come from increasing fossil fuel extraction in Grand County.
Let’s work together to tackle the economic challenges our county faces with real solutions, common sense and long-range thinking.
—Mary Beth Fitzburgh