[W]e can easily imagine what those Texas oil companies and Oklahoma drilling outfits would be doing to the Canyonlands if they had there, as they have most everywhere else, a free hand.
Edward Abbey, "A Walk in the Park," from Abbey's Road.
The real poison spider: the oil bidniss
WHILE PRESIDENT SHRUBwas jetting toward Salt Lake City for the opening of the Winter Corporate Enrichment Games, his subordinates were engaged in a similar, albeit quieter ceremony just a few hours' drive to the southeastopening Moab's red-rock wonderland to his Big Oil cronies.
According to The New York Times and various other terrorist organizations, 25-ton trucks have begun thumping the earth between Arches and Canyonlands national parks, using seismic gear to probe for oil in Utah the same way you might judge a melon's ripeness at Albertson's.
The Suits say it's no big thingbut Dr. Jayne Belnap of the U.S. Geological Survey has warned that some of this delicate terrain could take 250 years to recover.
Sort of makes you feel like a doofus for sticking to the established trails, huh?
Soooeey, Pig! Dubya's "y'all come" hog-calling seems a tad premature, with oil and gas prices so low that some CEOs, more bottom-line oriented than his ex-pal "Kenny Boy" Lay, formerly of Enron, see little profit in punching expensive holes in the groundespecially when the turf is sacred to Sierra Clubbers, mountain bikers and other endangered species.
"We're all just sort of shaking our head because this area is so controversial," said Beth McBride of Denver-based Legacy Oil, in a chat with Timothy Egan of The Times.
Still, peregrine falcons, bighorn sheep and many cyclists do not vote, even in election years. And Utah-bound Range Rovers do get thirsty, especially with a few mountain bikes racked on the roof and the air conditioning cranked up to Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.
So who cares whether there's a drilling rig on the horizon as you ride the Poison Spider? Pretend you've supersized your psilocybin order at McDopers and it's a real big praying mantis. Then keep on pedaling.
Black Gold; Texas Tea. You don't have to be the sharpest bit in the drilling rig to intuit that Dubya's energy policycrafted in secret at the expense of taxpayers, who will also underwrite the General Accounting Office's lawsuit to force Dick Cheney to tell us who dictated while he scribbledis designed primarily to further enrich his petro-pals.
A side benefit for homesick oilmen will be the remaking of our wilderness areas in the image of West Texas, an odiferous wasteland of drilling rigs, pumping stations and refineries that makes the opening cityscape shot in "Blade Runner" look like a Costa Rican beach.
And while Cheney ridicules the notion that conservation, alternative transportation and renewable energy resources could provide even a partial solution to America's insatiable demands for go-juice, it seems a smarter bet than perforating southern Utah like a colander in hopes of beating The Wilderness Society's oddsthat there's only a 14 percent chance of striking oil in the Lockhart Basin outside Canyonlands, where McBride's company holds its lease.
Your Tax Dollars At Work. Me, I've never ridden around Moab. I enjoy my unique status as the only cycling journalist never to have set tire to trail in the place. My idea of a good time on two wheels is not sharing a few miles of slickrock with a few hundred of my closest friends. Still, I like knowing it's there for the folks who may not be able to afford their own congressman, much less a president.
That isn't a problem for Utah billionaire Earl Holding, who slipped Orrin Hatch on like a two-bit rubber and screwed the taxpayers out of 1,300 high-dollar acres of national forest and a $15 million road for his Snow Basin ski area, which hosted the alpine events during the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake, and which will become a four-season, for-profit resort after the athletes have gone home.
With this sort of largesse from the U.S. Treasury, Holding shouldn't have any trouble making his mortgage payments. And if times do get hard, well, he's got other properties. He owns Sinclair Oiland thus, with his fellow oilmen, the White House.