November 16, 2004
Northern San Juan Basin CBM EIS
USDA FS Content Analysis Team
Post Office Box 221150
Salt Lake City, UT 84122
Dear USDA FS Content Analysis Team:
For a number of years, I have been studying the effects that human beings, at the individual, institutional, national and international levels, are having on the Earth and its environment. It seems obvious from all that I have read, heard and thought about that Earth's ability to sustain life is threatened.
The Worldwatch's Lester Brown, Gary Gardner and Brian Halweil in "Beyond Malthus" list 19 major ways in which the Earth's "demographic vital signs" are being extended beyond natural limits; and, therefore, beyond both sustainability and probable recovery. These include: Fresh water; Grain production; Biodiversity; Energy; Ocean fish catches; Forests; and, Croplands, among others.
Moreover, the numbers of humans continues to increase. Even more sobering, is the worldwide "drive" for increasing standards of living. On the surface such a "drive" would seem to be a positive. Not so. If all of the world's people consumed at the average rate by the people of the United States, between five and six "new worlds" would be needed. And, even more troubling, each of those "worlds" would be using up resources beyond sustainable levels.
The question of whether or not to drill in the HDs is not a small, isolated, local issue. It is reflective of the wider issue: Will humans continue to use the Earth's resources above and beyond sustainable levels until the viability of the Earth is destroyed? Or, at some point, will humans begin to make decisions that will reverse what now seem like irreversible damages and move toward ultimate sustainability?
When and where should we draw the line between wonton destruction and sustainable living? After 95 percent of Earth's species has died off? After 95 percent of the oil reserves is depleted? After 95 percent of our drinking water is toxic? After 95 percent of agricultural land is no longer productive?
After billions of people die prematurely from toxic environments and a lack of basic needs?
Couched in this framework, the HDs become a vital "test case." Either a line can be drawn that excludes them from exploitation - thus preserving them for posterity - or they can be subjected to the kind of road building, drilling and other exploitation that will mark them - like the rest of the planet - for decline and decimation. I urge you to deny further drilling in the HDs!
Harold L. Mansfield, Ph.D., 1138 County Road 302, Durango, CO 81303-8050 Phone: 970.259.1324