Moab's dilemma: Can recreation coexist with energy?

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • Moab Jim Pahrump, NV
    April 20, 2014 3:38 p.m.

    The tendency throughout the Four Corners region is to lay out "both sides of the argument" between conservation and mineral extraction. In Grand County, known best for its fragile stone arches, spires and balanced rocks, that concept is flawed. What should be of interest is the relationship between drilling and any destabilizing effects that it may have on fragile natural wonders. How many jobs Grand County can create in the extraction industries has far less long-term value. When the Arches begin to fall, so too will the beauty and economic vitality of Grand County, Utah. Is it worth the risk?

  • Moab Econ101 Moab, UT
    April 18, 2014 3:56 p.m.

    We need and must have more legs on the stool, not just one. The extraction industry is vital to the vitality of Moab. Look up Moab history of the 1980’s. A few oil wells don’t constitute “oil barons”. That’s a myth anyway. The tax revenue can and would dramatically help improving current quality of life for residence. The possibility of millions of dollars in revenue from the Sego Canyon projects (gas pipeline and road, now in feasibility study) would be significantly improve opportunities in my county and dollars to improve roads, the sewer system, our schools, etc.

    Soon USU will begin their projects, leg of the stool number 3, and we would like to add 1 more leg. So unless you want to pull millions of dollars out of your checking accounts to give to our city and county and do that year after year, don’t say a word. You don’t live here.

  • tears Bozeman, MT
    April 14, 2014 3:09 p.m.

    Have you seen the Bakken oil fields? Is that what you want for Moab? Where there is a history of extraction there is also massive cleanup. The days are gone for ravaging the earth for minerals, gas, oil, that, make no mistake about it will be sold on the open market. As for charging "out of staters" exorbitant fees - we could do that here too, but that won't help get the message across - once you have scraped, blasted, fracked, and polluted ground and air and water and killed living organisms on the land you want mined, then what? Your legacy will be one of destruction. Is that what you want? And as far as rules for using the land for recreation - get over not liking rules. What are you going to do about the oil spill in Grand Staircase Escalante? Be proud of it? While those in favor
    or more extraction and tying up the land by the oil companies have their points, why be destroyers. We can all be more careful with how much fuel, etc we use. And there are many of us who do not "use" the land - some show respect

  • Strider303 Salt Lake City, UT
    April 14, 2014 12:22 p.m.

    Tourism would not exist were it not for an industrialized economy that paid wages that allowed recreation. Recreation is funded (fueled?) by non-essential income.

    Recreation is not a stable base upon which to build a society or an economy. It is one thing to visit Moab and environs and marvel at the scenery and glory in the "fun". It is another to weather the slack season and scrabble for a living until the "touristas" show up next year. Good paying, steady jobs support Moab families and allow them to vacation where they want to go.

    Development brings change that some find hard to deal with. It is not without faults.

    I find it hard to be criticized by people who wear the accoutrements of a highly civilized, technologically advanced society for seeking to maintain the same standard of living they so profusely flaunt. Hi-tech camping, biking, and water recreation gear as well as synthetic fabric clothing would not exist let alone be affordable from a tourist, agrarian based society.

    I feel that development is possible if people of good faith work together. The people of Moab need to be heard in the discussion. Sierra Club, take a hike.

  • C_Bohecker Flagstaff, AZ
    April 14, 2014 10:04 a.m.

    I have lived in Moab for five years, guided rivers seasonally, volunteered for the BLM and worked at Arches. What this article doesn't mention is climate change. That is why I oppose natural gas drilling and tar sands development. Fossil fuels are cheap because the true costs are ignored... When you get low snowpack years it hurts farmers, ranchers, and tourism here. You also get big fires which are expensive and destructive. No one can afford the cost of reparations to climate change refugees either. Ever dollar we spend on a natural gas well is a dollar we are not spending on renewable, sustainable energy that doesn't destroy the planet.

    That being said, tourism is not perfect. When I was a guide I made $4.11 a hour to work 18 hour days 5 days in a row with no overtime. The outfitters hyper exploit their workers, make them live in their cars or crammed into tiny apartments, and of course offer no health care. A tourist economy could be sustainable, but it isn't now. If Moab's recreational employers paid their guides the value of their labor, recreation alone could fill that role, but it can't now.

  • grvillage Denver, CO
    April 14, 2014 9:46 a.m.

    The problem with calls for "balance" is that the term is usually used by exploiters and politicians to gussy up their self-serving schemes. To prevent going down the rat hole of a-half-of-a-half inevitable consumption of set aside lands that are already the result of land-use choices, we should consider opening up lands now occupied by frackers and oil drillers, including all their owned or leased land, office building campuses and facilities, to compensatory parks and open spaces.

  • Baron Scarpia Logan, UT
    April 14, 2014 6:16 a.m.

    @ Cats

    "Environmentalism is such an elitest movement that concerns itself mostly with the esthetic needs of its own adherents."

    Opposition to energy development in these places is that time and again, the energy industry has incurred "accidents" that have damaged not just the aesthetics of the community, but also threatened water, air, quality of life, and livelihoods of local residents.

    Just this past month, an unreported oil spill was discovered, and now state and federal dollars are being spent to figure out who is responsible and what damaged it has caused to people relying on the local water for life.

    Our tax dollars time and again are used to clean up the mess of energy interests -- whether is was earmarks to clean up Moab's tailings from the now defunct uranium industry to Obama's bailout of the BP oil disaster in the Mexican Gulf that not only damaged sea life, but the livelihoods of fishermen and resorts along the Gulf coast. Some people today still refuse to eat Gulf sea food due to its perceived toxicity.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    April 13, 2014 11:51 p.m.

    Geez, I remember well the uranium tailings, right next to the river across from Moab. I'm pretty sure that giant eyesore didn't deter anyone from going down there. Those nice blue ponds look cool from Dead Horse Point anyway.

    I have a better idea. Let's charge the out of stators $1000.00 a visit and an large excise tax on bike, hummer, jeep, and any other rental. Also some exorbitant fees for running the river. Also tax alcohol sales more. I see beer cans littering all over the place down there. Same with cigarette butts.

  • SP Salt Lake City, UT
    April 13, 2014 6:37 p.m.

    Great article. Balanced and informative. Thanks, Des News.

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    April 13, 2014 4:48 p.m.

    We need more accurate revenue figures for energy development. It is easy to see that taxes and royalties are paid to the counties and private citizens, but we need to factor in the "hidden costs".

    Texas has a relatively high tax on energy production, but in some of the fracking areas the damage to roads and bridges, by the myriad huge trucks, actually costs more to repair than the government receives in taxes and royalties.

    Lets make sure that we aren't allowing energy companies to prosper while transferring infrastructure costs to the tax payers!

  • benjoginko Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 13, 2014 4:27 p.m.

    I'm ok if we don't drill and exploit the natural resources, but let's charge everyone from out of state that wants us to keep the land pristine a $100.00 a day fee to visit these areas.

  • arand Huntsville, u
    April 13, 2014 2:04 p.m.

    Both can survive. They have ever since the first oil well was tapped. When the wells are empty, the land will return to the same. Just remember all of those tourists use gas to get their and as far as the people that bring their horses from Park City?--- I wonder how much gas they use to pull those trailers? I doubt if they ride their horses all the way.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    April 13, 2014 1:15 p.m.

    Okay you drill baby drill folks know that oil is sold on the world market, right? Developing countries are buying this oil and to say that tapping into these resources is a national security is laughable.

    Maybe if we nationalized our oil industry then maybe the national security argument would be valid.

  • jjarseneau Salt Lake, UT
    April 13, 2014 11:39 a.m.

    Too many tourists or too many oil wells? I'd rather have the oil wells. The 4-wheelers, mountain bikers, SUV enthusiasts have done more damage than mineral extraction.

  • LDS Tree-Hugger Farmington, UT
    April 13, 2014 9:41 a.m.

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure.

    When we have done everything we can,
    Selling gas at un subsidezed $7 a gallon,
    and people stop driving gas guzzling trucks and SUVs 90 mph as daily drivers,
    and we are driving 40+ mpg vehicles,
    and cracking down hard on those who exploit and ignore our resources...

    Get back to me about drilling.

    There is enough and to spare --
    but NOT if you are being selfish, stingy, and not being prudent.

    Then God doesn't need to keep his end of that promise.

  • quickmatch Oak Park, IL
    April 13, 2014 8:44 a.m.

    We live in Illinois and have visited Moab twice, to hike Arches and the North Canyonlands. We will return this fall. One trip through the Bakken lands of North Dakota was enough.
    According to the quantities published here the Moab-area natural gas reserves equate to about 0.5% of the US annual consumption; they would supply natural gas for about 500,000 MW hours of electrical production, or about 0.01% of the US annual electrical generation.
    Non-public areas of Utah could be dedicated to solar generation that delivers, in perpetuity, many times the gas reserves equivalent of electricity. CSP generation with storage on 6,371 square miles (7.5%) of Utah could generate “almost a third of all energy used in the United States” (Wikipedia).
    Southern Illinois supplied coal and oil. That countryside reveals idle pumpjacks: towns sit above abandoned mines, some of which are on fire and leak carbon monoxide into basements. The twelve lowest family-income counties in Illinois are in the south. Surely some achieved riches from the oil and coal, but the people, in general, are left poor.
    Utah should beware of throwing away its precious heritage of open, protected land. Do not kill the goose that lays golden eggs.

  • Sensible Scientist Rexburg, ID
    April 13, 2014 8:32 a.m.

    Oil and gas wells are routinely put in cities, farms, orchards, vineyards, and wildlife refuges. Beverly Hills High School has had one on its property for decades, for example. Once established, they are quite unobtrusive. If they can be safely put there, they can certainly be put in and around SE Utah's recreation areas and parks. All the doomsday talk is hype without substance.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    April 13, 2014 7:49 a.m.

    We need these resources for our national security as well as the economic benefit of the area. Environmentalism is such an elitest movement that concerns itself mostly with the esthetic needs of its own adherents.

    We can utilize these resources without endangering the environment. The technology exists to do this with very minimal impact. Someone being able to go horseback riding without seeing the trench to a new pipeline is not justification for stopping this important development.

    As someone who has a home that is powered by off-the-grid solar power and is completely green, I owe no apologies to anyone. And...I say DRILL BABY DRILL! This country needs it.

  • Bob Tanner Price, UT
    April 13, 2014 7:31 a.m.

    I love it when the oil baron claims they try very, very, very hard to blend in. I remember looking off Dead Horse Point overlook and NOT seeing the potash I want to puke every time I look off and see that ugly man made albatross spoiling what could have, and should have remained a pristine view. Who wants to see Moab with a population of 49,999 people living there just to support the extraction industry? We have a jewel in the Moab area that shouldn't be destroyed for the sake of more oil. Bob Tanner.

  • dpgrizzle Longview, TX
    April 13, 2014 5:42 a.m.

    Get the oil industry in Moab, and the immediate effect will be loss of unblemished landscapes and light pollution that destroys night skies. Then when the frac operations begin, earthquakes will follow to topple all the arches. Moab will become the calendar child for environmental disaster when Delicate Arch falls due to the oil and gas industry.

  • play by the rules SOUTH JORDAN, UT
    April 12, 2014 11:48 p.m.

    Drill baby Drill! These liberals who want to exploit the lands for their recreational pleasure use the very energy that we need to sustain life. Their intellectual short-sidedness is mind numbing. These are the same individuals who will complain about big energy when their power bill goes up 200%. Use some logic people. We need energy!

  • Q Bee Moab, UT
    April 12, 2014 9:42 p.m.

    Drill baby drill

  • woolybruce Idaho Falls, ID
    April 12, 2014 9:08 p.m.

    Current generation consumes anything and everything leaving nothing for the future. The kids and especially grandkids will have no gas, and in the process of extracting it all will be left with nothing but waste land. Look at Dead Horse Point overlooking the Potash settling ponds. Brilliant move all in the name of energy.

  • photobeauty Blanding, UT
    April 12, 2014 8:49 p.m.

    I too am worried about the coming time when individuals and families will have very restricted access to "public" lands. These restrictions, however, will be a result of too many people trying to visit and not a result of use of natural resources.

  • endoftimes Vernal, UT
    April 12, 2014 6:41 p.m.

    Energy and industry must stay away from our parks and monuments within reason, however we must not allow policies and regulation to lock the public out of these great areas. Otherwise it will be only the very elite that will be able to see and enjoy what we are trying to preserve for the people.