Energy Conservation, Communitywide Energy Consumption Patterns, and National Energy Policy
It is difficult to overstate the importance of local renewable energy in the mountains and especially in Colorado, especially in the Golden City. Dangling between ponderosa pines and high, wide peaks, this glorious mountain playground boasts some of the best mountain biking on the planet. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a masterpiece of nature’s breathtaking scenery, its razor-sharp cliffs and deep gorges offering a challenge to any conqueror of cycling legs. For those who want to get away from it all, there’s the popular South Fork Trail that snakes its way through the forested canyon.
For generations, ranchers here have relied upon the natural gas resources
that comes from the natural gas wells that stretch across the landscape like the spine of an ancient forest. In fact, many of these mineral deposits were found by surveyors working for the Survey of Colorado, who also drilled several hundred exploratory wells themselves. When it comes to local renewable energy, it’s easy to understand why people here have turned to hydraulic fracturing as a means to bring abundant supplies of natural gas and oil to market while protecting the environment at the same time.
In the past two decades, three major U.S. shale gas formations
have come into play: the Texas oil boom; the North Slope oil field; and the Voodoo County sandstone region of Colorado. All of these natural resource deposits have the potential to unleash massive reserves of energy, but only if they are developed in a manner that enhances their productivity and protects the environment. As planners and developers think about the development of future energy markets in the Rocky Mountains, they need to come up with creative ways to manage the natural gas and oil resources that exist today and plan for future generations. It’s a time-tested approach that works – and it’s working right now.
There are two major methods for extracting natural gas resources.
The first is known as “fracking.” This method involves high-pressure water, and chemicals being injected into the shale layer deep beneath the earth’s surface. Although some of the natural gas resources trapped beneath the earth’s surface may be recoverable via this technique, the majority will not.
The second method for accessing these natural resources
is known as “easy recovery.” In this case, surface and underground resources can be accessed by a technique that would not necessarily threaten the integrity of the shale layer or disturb the balance of atmospheric pressure. Some belief this to be the best way to go because it doesn’t compromise the ecosystem. To meet the national energy policymaker’s goal of cleaner energy, we need a broader and more complete strategy across the country, but in the meantime, working with state and local governments to understand the current limitations placed on energy production and development is very important.
From the scientific, economic, and policy perspectives, there is no doubt that local renewable energy is needed and we cannot rely on our global leadership for solutions. As we work to protect our environment, we must also look after our communities. Energy conservation is not just a numbers game, it’s about human welfare. Our natural spaces are valuable to us and without them, we’re just sending a message. We need to conserve our natural resources and leave a legacy for our children. If we don’t, as some environmental advocates fear, the human race could soon be extinct.