Monday, February 4, 2013

Paonia Hits the NY Times + My NIMBY Rant

Reading the Times aloud on Saturday mornings with hot tea in hand is hardly unusual, although the news rarely has anything to do with our lives here in our tiny, tucked away town. Until today. Today I squealed and screamed over every detail shared by the New York Times, as they covered the on-going ordeal over oil and gas leases issued on public lands immediately surrounding our homes. 

In December of 2011 roughly 30,000 acres of public lands were nominated for oil and gas development in the North-Fork Valley. Though the sale was deferred and some parcels were dropped, we're back at it again. The sale is now slated for Valentines Day.  

Organic produce floods this valley. Innumerable stars fill the dark sky. The undeveloped lanscape provides spectacular views and is home to Bald Eagles and elk. We drink water from our mountain, and if you leave for a bit you realize how good it tastes. Traffic is non-existant save for the occasional tractor on the highway. A system of trails where people run, hike, and bike weave around a small mountain just minutes from downtown. And, I haven't heard anyone complaining about the abundance of local wines. 

The parcels nominated for this sale will be governed on the basis of a Resource Management Plan that was written in the 80s. Don't even get me started here.....

And yet, I cringe to think myself some NIMBY'er. Conservation itself has always troubled me because it creates separation--we build National Parks to preserve our beautiful natural land marks, and yet this implies that humans are not a part of the natural landscape. We are separate.  

Development can exist..somewhere...but not here. We all rely on products and materials that are toxic to us. Perhaps we should live in the midsts of industry and development rather than cornering it off to dark and hidden places. We'd be way more likely to produce these things in a more environmentally friendly manner, or not produce crap at all, if the reality of these processes looked us square in the eye. It would be much harder to quietly poison our planet and ourselves. 

My friend Sara, an editor at High Country News recently wrote about NIMBYism.

If we continue to insist on living as we do now, maybe we need to see drill rigs from our kitchen windows  and hiking trails, even our school playgrounds. How else can we truly understand the costs of something we use unless we're confronted with them daily?  -Sara Gillman 

Paolo, another local writer, who like Sara published his thoughts on the whole NIMBY predicament, looks to our government for some accountability.

 NIMBY is the warning sign that tells us our system is broken. It tells us that some energy    companies choose to ignore their impacts, either because they believe the impacts are too  expensive to remedy, or because impacts are "externalities," unconnected to profits.  NIMBY tells us that our government bureaucrats haven't been paying attention to the public welfare.             --Paolo Bacigalupi

Public welfare encompasses so many things and it seems most prioritize the economy over the health of the environment and our fellow citizens. 

I'm really at a loss here. The issues run deep, and though I see the faulty reasoning, I can't think my way into a reasonable solution. Meanwhile, I look out my window and my heart aches with love for my home. 

1 comment:

  1. They're trying to FRACK again! I think those that profit from it should have to live on the land afterward. They probably still wouldn't see the damage they had done though. So sad. Keep me posted, if there is any way I can help I will.