“It’s not easy being rich” — especially when you’re rich in natural resources. So says a new report from the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado at Boulder, explaining why the West is smack-dab in the middle of the nation’s energy fight.
The report, What Every Westerner Should
Know About Energy, explains the history of energy
development, production and use. It shows that everything we do is
made possible by fossil fuels. When you phone a friend or toss a
Frisbee, you’re using products that contain petroleum. When
you make toast or flip on a light, your electricity probably comes
But beyond the price per gallon or kilowatt
hour are “hidden” costs like air pollution, water use,
and development of wild lands. These are costs increasingly borne
by resource-rich Westerners, as the Bush administration and
Congress open more lands to energy development and remove those
lands’ environmental protections.
bottom line is no surprise: We need to pay more attention to
conservation now and work seriously on developing renewable sources
for the future. Perhaps, as the report suggests, we should try
putting a chunk of coal next to the reading lamp as a reminder of
where that light is coming from.
What Every Westerner
Should Know About Energy is available online at