Recently, the US Fish and Wildlife Service found three new plants on Colorado’s Roan Plateau that it has classified as Endangered. I know not everyone is familiar with my little corner of flyover country known as the Intermountain West. (although I expect that may change for some of you when the University of Utah starts in the Pac 12 in a week) so a bit of exposition is called for.
The Roan Plateau is situated in the north west part of Colorado, just the proverbial hop-skip-and jump from where I sit at this moment. And as you can guess, it is packed with energy resources.
Naturally, we have to find some reason to clamp down on drilling, so here comes the Endangered Species Act. So the Federal Government has obligingly drafted three heretofore largely unheard of plant species that absolutely must be preserved lest the earth spin off its axis and we hurtle headlong into the Milky Way.
Despite the good faith efforts of wildlife officials in the State of Utah, members of the public, and even that evil moustache twirler known as the Energy Industry to improve Sage Grouse habitat, the bird may find itself listed as endangered in other states.
The unfortunate aspect of that is if it is listed as endangered in oh say Wyoming, it then becomes endangered everywhere, no matter what mitigation steps have been taken to upgrades its quality of life in Utah.
I had a conversation with one our county commissioners last week. As it turns out,. Sage Grouse and three obscure plants are just tip of the iceberg. I have been told that over the next few years, we can expect another 500 new species to become endangered over the next few years.
Think about that for a moment: 500 new species will be added to the Endangered list. If this trend keeps up, you won’t be able to step on a cockroach in your basement or call the exterminator to get rid of your termites without getting cited by a Federal Wildlife officer.
I won‘t wax rhapsodic about the benefits of natural gas that you find on the Roan Plateau. I‘ve played that song on this stage before so there is no need for an encore.
And I won‘t rehash the viability of oil shale available in the West, I‘ve done that too. And the information is out there for those with open minds and who are brave enough to actually examine the data for themselves.
But I know this much: I know we can protect the ever growing population of suddenly endangered species and still power a nation.
The trouble is, the decision makers have decided not to do that.
The Fur Fins and Feathers guys in the West do it all the time. It’s kind of like trading baseball cards. Say one part of the state is a little light on Bison. They place a call to another part of the state and swap out some antelope for the bison. Or maybe trade a few antelope for some bighorn sheep. Or get rid a few extra mountain goats by moving them a few counties over to region that could use them.
In point of fact we received a shipment of bison a few years ago via that very method. One region needed to get rid of a few bison, our region wanted a few bison. A little negotiation, some work by the biologists and one day, a horse trailer full of bison came rumbling into our neck of the woods.
My point being that in this day and age, when someone in Nigeria can hack into your bank account, we have the ability to find solutions to the problem of endangered species. without hindering access to resources, without raising the cost of energy and without adding the American Worker to the Endangered List, although it could be argued that the American Worker was added to that list long ago.