The "Sagebrush Rebellion" of the 1980s was directed against environmentalists who supposedly were interfering with Westerners' desire to exploit public lands as ruthlessly as possible. These days people in the rural West are more likely to rebel against Bush's oil-and-gas-first approach to public land use:
The town of Palisade launched a fight against oil and gas development in its watershed Tuesday night, voting unanimously to protest a federal lease sale offering more than 13,000 acres on Grand Mesa to development.
A Feb. 9 Bureau of Land Management auction will include about 11,000 acres in Palisade’s watershed, where the town collects its drinking water.
The watershed is in the area of the Kruzen Springs water system, north of Land’s End Road and below the rim of Grand Mesa.
. . .
“If there’s an accident up there and that toxic stuff gets into our water, we’re cooked,” said Mayor Doug Edwards.
On top of protecting the town’s watershed, the Town Board expressed concern over guarding a $6 million investment in a new water treatment facility the board approved in late 2005.
The town currently receives drinking water from Ute Water Conservancy District in Grand Junction and will continue to receive that water until the treatment plant is complete.
In the fight to keep oil and gas development away from the watershed when it will once again provide the town’s water, board members said they planned to contact the BLM with a formal letter of protest.
The board also voted to contact congressional delegates and ask for their help in removing the parcels from the February lease sale.
Palisade's economy is based on agriculture and tourism -- their famous peaches, melons and vineyards (and I can't forget the Rocky Mountain Meadery) plus access to the Grand Mesa area. They aren't desperate for oilpatch jobs and their current economy would be very threatened by any water contamination related to natural gas development. Fortunately for the residents of Palisade, their Congressional representative is John Salazar (D-Manassa) who has shown a willingness to stand up to the BLM's giveaways of drilling rights on public land.
Remember this issue when you see reports about how the would-be Republican challengers to John Salazar can't get any fundraising traction. The big donors understand that any candidate linked to Bush's oil and gas policies is going to get pulverized on the Western Slope, so they will focus their resources elsewhere.