Grand County voters resoundingly repudiated the actions of the outgoing county council at the ballot box in November. Despite overwhelming public support for protecting Grand County’s world class scenic resources, the council drafted three alternatives for Rep. Rob Bishop’s public lands initiative that all favored extraction of second rate fossil fuels. What sane person would sacrifice world class resources that will last indefinitely in order to liquidate short term, low quality assets?
A Canadian company deceptively named U.S. Oil Sands holds a lease to strip mine 50 square miles of public land in Utah, an area about 14 times the area of the city of Moab. What happens if — more likely when — U.S. Oil Sands abandons the site because there’s no market for a resource that’s cruder than “crude” oil?
Tar sands cannot compete with rapidly growing technologies in fuel efficiency. Volkswagen, Walmart and Boeing have already proven the feasibility of at least doubling or tripling the fuel economy of cars, trucks and aircraft, respectively. Oil consumption in the United States peaked in 2005, declined by 10 percent by 2013, and, according to ExxonMobil, will be even lower in 2040, despite a population 60 million greater.
Hopefully, the new council will inform Rob Bishop that Grand County’s world class scenery is more valuable than a crude, second-rate fuel source that will soon be obsolete. The council should recommend to Congressman Bishop Alternative 4, the one not yet formulated, that supports rather than distorts sound economic policy and reflects the overwhelming input of Grand County residents to protect the area’s world class resources.