Jack Healy reports from Paonia, in the North Fork Valley, about leases for 114,932 acres of federal land in Colorado, leases that will be auctioned off in March as part of the Obama administration's effort to increase domestic natural gas production.
For a glimpse into the complications of President Obama’s “all of the above” energy policy, follow a curling mountain road through the aspens and into central Colorado’s North Fork Valley, where billboards promote “gently grown” fruits and farmers sell fresh milk and raw honey from pay-what-you-can donation boxes.
Here, amid dozens of organic farms, orchards and ranches, the federal government is opening up thousands of acres of public land for oil and gas drilling, part of its largest energy lease sale in Colorado since Mr. Obama took office.
Coloradans in solidly red cities west of here are the ones who have written letters to the government supporting the lease sale, saying it will bring jobs and tax revenues. In Paonia, where political lines are more evenly split, residents have come out overwhelmingly against the idea of drilling, saying it threatens a new economy rooted in tourism, wineries and organic peaches.
Landon Dean, an area dairy farmer, says she has been thinking of sowing hops for organic beer. But one parcel that is up for lease sits directly below her fields, and she's worried about keeping her land suitable for organic farming. She is quoted:
It’s just this land-grab, rape-and-pillage mentality. ... All it takes is one spill, and we're toast.Read more about fracking in Colorado here.
An excerpt from Norimitsu Onishi's story out of Kern County, California follows:
Comprising two-thirds of the United States’s total estimated shale oil reserves and covering 1,750 square miles from Southern to Central California, the Monterey Shale could turn California into the nation’s top oil-producing state and yield the kind of riches that far smaller shale oil deposits have showered on North Dakota and Texas.
For decades, oilmen have been unable to extricate the Monterey Shale’s crude because of its complex geological formation, which makes extraction quite expensive. But as the oil industry’s technological advances succeed in unlocking oil from increasingly difficult locations, there is heady talk that California could be in store for a new oil boom.
While the dateline is in Kern County, California's oil and gas capital, it seems clear that the Monterey Shale could invite fracking across a very large region of central California.