Perhaps it is the clouded vision so often caused by oil and gas development that that has led many Westerners to overestimate the industry’s economic importance. Although still an important player in some local economies, the industry has not been a large part of the broader regional economy in the last three decades — even during prior booms. It certainly hasn’t been one during the most recently ended boom. Oil and gas drilling accounts for less than 1.5 percent of jobs and 1.3 percent of income in the Rocky Mountain states. Contrary to what we’ve been told by the industry, it does not drive the region’s economy, and it should not be allowed to drive other industries — and our blue skies — away.
…Westerners are descended from settlers who seized the hope of striking out in a brand-new direction. Now we have the opportunity to embrace Ken Salazar’s vision of an energy future that moves us away from polluting fossil fuels and towards sustainable economic growth — and clearer skies.