"It is a war of ideology is what it is," he said. "They want it stopped. I mean, they flat want it stopped and want us to just rely on recreation only."
But energy jobs can provide wages that support families.
"You can't move to Moab unless you have already made your money somewhere else or you are savvy enough and have whatever capital to set up a business," Jackson said. "If you are a young person with a family from Salt Lake City with no particular skill set and you want to move to Moab, forget it."
The success of industry also helps pay the bills for county needs in a significant way, he said.
The first slate of wells that began producing for Fidelity jumped mineral revenues in Grand County from $429,000 a year to $1.2 million in the next fiscal year.
For 2014, Grand County is projected to receive $2.6 million and within a few years, that figure could be as high as $5 million or $6 million. Grand County's operating budget is $12 million a year, he said
"It is easy to be an idealist unless you are in a job like this and you have to make the proverbial rubber hit the road. You got to make it work for people."
Jackson said the revenue helped keep the county's 36-bed nursing home from shuttering its door and in Moab City, mineral lease money over the past 15 years has built about $25 million worth of public buildings.
"When people say there is no benefit to the community, that is not true," said Moab City Manager Donna Metzler.
Metzler's city has been hit with a barrage of criticism for selling 7 million gallons of treated water for Fidelity's operations.
She said the water is sold at a rate four times higher than what residential customers pay and selling water to industry or the state is a practice that has happened for decades. And while Moab may be in the desert southwest, the city is literally awash in water — using just 40 percent of its available supply each year that comes from springs and groundwater fed from the nearby La Sal Mountains.
Weisheit said it does not matter.
"It's a gift. Just because they have the gift doesn't mean they should squander it," he said. "The Colorado River is a gift. It is why we exist. If you break it, you break the back of civilization."
Leaders say they believe they can find that balance without compromising too much.
"I am willing to say that every place is sacred to someone," Metzler said. "It's a real balance. We have some visual and other resources that you can't find anywhere so we need to be careful to preserve those. I think it is possible."
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