A Letter to the Editor of the Post Independent
"It shouldn't be industry versus everyone else"
Whether Mr. Roles' suspicion of malfeasance is accurate (“Rifle area
rancher thinks his activism may have triggered retaliation,” PI June 29)
his loss underscores a tragic and wholly unnecessary division between
those imperiled by this industry — whether through toxicity or other
physical threat — and those within the industry with a mindset of “my job
or your life.”
Unfortunately, conflicts that should inspire reasonable debate and a
process of solution-seeking between all affected parties, instead inspire
the fossil fuel industry to reduce valid disagreement into an inane slogan
like “Drill, baby, drill” and retaliate with hostility against anyone
voicing an objection to their devastation.
Maybe it is unreasonable to expect more from an industry whose every
threat and effort to buy silence is met with reward. If a child were
rewarded after every tantrum or threat with not only a cookie, but the
cookies of all their pals, you would have raised an adult with neither
social- nor self-awareness.
Blanket exemptions from common sense regulations have allowed operators to
pursue the cheapest and therefore worst practices in order to economically
compete with other operators doing the same. Proper regulation — not
over-inflated, useless hooey — could level the playing field and create
better conditions and economic benefit for everyone.
But, routinely, even minimum regulation is rejected in favor of fatter
profit margins for industry stakeholders. Political will to represent
citizens and conserve other vital resources of air and water is undermined
by conflicts of interest where every level of government takes a cut of
royalties from ever-expanding and faster development.
In this enduring scenario, even operators who want to do better devolve
into worst practices, which residents in the bull's eye must try to
survive without legal standing. This creates an extraordinarily unbalanced
situation toward which the industry is neither cognizant nor accountable.
How hard is it to crush, even more, someone or something doomed and
helpless in industry's path? The overly-simple polarization of “industry
against everyone else” is why natural gas development produces such
diametrically opposing viewpoints instead of better-benefiting, as it
could, a broader cross-section of our region.