Linda Halteman Lewis: Our ‘moon’ moment | SteamboatToday.com

Linda Halteman Lewis: Our ‘moon’ moment

I'm sure the vast majority of people living in the Yampa Valley have a special love and relationship with our natural setting. It's what attracted us here in the first place and it's what keeps us here through the good and bad times. Taking the highly probable chance of contaminating this beautiful part of the Earth by bringing the poisons of oil and gas development to our community is not worth the risk for the following reasons:

1 We have 2 percent of petroleum reserves located in the U.S. but use 25 percent of the oil and gas produced worldwide. We will never be able to drill or frack our way to energy independence, even if a well went up in everyone's front yard.

2 A large portion of the natural gas that is being produced domestically is being exported.

3 We live in a seismically active region and fracking is known to stimulate earthquakes.

Rather than risk our health and the health of our environment, let's look at conservation first. Seriously reducing our oil and gas usage hasn't even begun. Each of us drive more, consume more and waste more than our share. Individual and group efforts like carpooling, using bikes and public transportation, recycling, and making our homes and workplaces energy efficient are important and need to become part of who we are as a culture. We need to back off the $4 billion of yearly subsidies given to the petroleum industry and instead invest in seriously incentivizing alternative and renewable energy to make it affordable to all.

Truly, we are at a crossroads in our development as a society. We can choose to continue to ravage and exploit the Earth for the promise of a few more years of our familiar lifestyle and some short-term job increases, or we can take a hard look at how we can preserve our environment for our children and get creative with our energy use.  We'd all be healthier with the increased physical activity of getting ourselves places without the carcinogenic and neuropathic toxic residues from oil and gas development in our air, water and soil, and with the increased social support system available to us by living a slower, simpler and more community-oriented lifestyle.

At some point, oil and gas development may be made to be safe for all affected, but that is not currently true. Why risk all that we love for some fuel to export and some short-term job growth that comes with huge negative effects to the community? I believe this is our "race to the moon" moment. We can make it a national priority to work together to need less energy in the first place by practicing meaningful conservation. Then we can move to the next step of fulfilling our reduced energy needs from clean sources like wind, solar, geothermal and sustainable biofuels. We will get to keep our beautiful countryside, our rural way of life, and even create good jobs in the process.

Linda Halteman Lewis

Steamboat Springs