On The Ground In Oiltown, USA
Weld County, Colorado, has more active wells than any county in the nation. As energy development transforms the landscape, people and wildlife are acutely feeling the effects. Can industry and conservationists reach a compromise?
Rutledge has been discussing a similar plan with Colorado officials, arguing that effective sage-grouse protections at the state level can help avoid the less flexible and further-reaching protections of a federal Endangered Species Act listing. But the state has been slow to act. "It's very clearly the same issue here as it is everywhere else," says Rutledge. "The birds can't handle the level of disturbance and fragmentation that comes with uncontrolled gas drilling." Rutledge points out that an effective plan is as good for the industry as it is for wildlife, providing some regulatory certainty in a chaotic landscape. "We can do this and have gas, too," he says.
In Greeley, Sara Barwinski sees daily evidence of the need for compromise--for the sake of both wildlife and human health.