The Rocky Mountain Front Range is part of five million acres of wilderness that, up until now, has been off-limits to oil and gas development. The Bush Administration is fast-tracking thousands of leases to drill on vast stretches of land held in public trust. Environmentalists and local ranchers question the value of exploiting these national assets. Photo courtesy of Montana State University.

Exploiting America's Serengeti

NOW with Bill Moyers investigates the controversy of oil and gas exploration on public lands in the American West.

By EV World

It is the policy of the Bush Administration to do all it can to encourage the discovery and extraction of what remains of America's dwindling oil and gas reserves.

The center piece of that policy is to open up vast quarters of the American West in areas once considered protected as a public trust and legacy to future generations. One such area is the 5 million acres that comprise the Rocky Mountain Front Range in Montana. Here, it is believed, are untaped natural gas deposits that could help forestall the time when the nation must import natural gas from abroad in a risky technology called Liquified Natural Gas or LNG.

NOW with Bill Moyers' David Brancaccio traveled to Montana to see firsthand what's at sake in this debate over whether or not to allow gas and oil exploration and development on public lands held by the National Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management or BLM. His guide was the former supervisor for the Lewis and Clark National Forest, Gloria Flora, who in 1997 declared much of the Front Range off limits to oil and gas development.

With our respects to PBS and NOW, we felt that given the gravity of the current energy situation with oil futures over $50 a barrel and natural gas hovering around $7 per million BTU that you would want to hear this program, since it isn't currently archived on the PBS web site. While the audio cannot replace the impact of the program's stunning video, we trust you'll get a sense of the scope of the debate over exploitation of what many call America's "Serengeti".

To listen to the audio from the program, click the play button on the MP3 Player to the right, or download the file to your hard drive for playback on your favorite MP3 device. Also be sure to visit the PBS website for a photo diary of Brancaccio's Montana trip. For information on the Front Range, visit Alliance for the Wild Rockies.

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Times Article Viewed: 2728
Published: 15-Oct-2004


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