Moab is currently home to a dramatic showdown between two highly incompatible worldviews. On one side is the “short term/bottom line” perspective, which promotes financial profit no matter how disastrous the consequences might be.
The financial interests of the investors trump all other interests, no matter how rational, moral, sustainable, or humane. This perspective has infiltrated all levels of government.
On the other side is the perspective of individual rights, of “We the People,” the “Silenced Majority” as Amy Goodman recently wrote about in her new book by that name. Until recently the folks on this side relied on a basic assumption that our American democracy has the interests of everyone at heart.
However it is becoming evident that money, and the power it buys, is gaining a huge upper hand in this confrontation.
A pivotal event is unfolding “right here in River City” (read Moab) as 80,000 acres of BLM land are being considered for bid in February, 2013 to those with the most money to develop oil and gas extraction.
In this event, we see highlighted the exemplary conflict of these two major ways of looking at the world. Are we talking about the earth as a precious living planet or simply a place rich with resources to be exploited?
Recently, we went into the BLM office in Moab to learn more about the attitude of the folks given the task of protecting this amazingly beautiful land. We heard a sugar-coated story about the fracking that is already going on at Island in the Sky, that sounded either very naïve or purposely misleading.
Basically we were told that there was nothing to be alarmed about, that the local BLM employees don’t want any harm to come to this beautiful area. Unfortunately when one watches the 2010 documentary about fracking “Gasland”, which is available at the Grand County Library or online, it becomes very clear that major danger is approaching.
The more scientific video available online entitled “What you need to know about Natural Gas Production” at www.tedx.org emphasizes the magnitude of the threat.
In addition to the overwhelming financial and political power wielded by the “profit over people paradigm” there are a couple other aspects of the Moab example that merit examining.
One is the fact that, especially in a small town like Moab, no one wants to risk losing a federal government job by rocking the boat and speaking up against the powers that be. Another is that, in the “Wild West,” we have a frontier attitude that is outmoded now, that there is room for everyone to pursue his/her individual interests.
However, in the case of the extreme greed of oil and gas extraction, the lack of oversight and foresight has produced some horror stories of extreme sacrifice zones. I was born in Wyoming, where the deer and antelope used to play, but has now become the land of oil rigs and toxic fumes. Big oil takes advantage of this frontier mentality to rape the land and move on leaving devastation in its wake.
Finally, many of us simply cannot believe that there are people who are completely devoid of conscience. However, it is a proven fact that a sizable proportion of our population falls into a category called “sociopath”.
These people lie, cheat and inflict great harm on others (and the environment) without batting an eyelash. A popular book on the subject, “The Sociopath Next Door” by Martha Stout, PhD., is a real eye-opener.
Unfortunately many sociopaths are able to utilize their lack of conscience to excel at such professions as law, politics and business, the exact group that comes together in too many big corporations and notably Big Oil.
It is our hope that there is enough intelligence and appreciation of our unique and exquisitely beautiful area here in Moab to create a momentum of support to block any further encroachment of these monumental polluters.
Anyone who has a business here that has to do with tourism, who loves the pristine beauty of this land, who cares for the future of their children and grandchildren, or is just plain fed-up with predatory sociopathic corporatocracy, would do well to let your ideas be known, pronto!
The comment period on the BLM oil and gas lease of land nearby ends on Dec. 17, 2012 and the sale is set for Feb. 19, 2013. Big SpOil is coming soon to a location near you.