Western Colorado: Another “National Sacrifice Zone?”

How many of us are guilty of “talking” about issues, but we never get around to “acting” on our concerns? Joe Brown and Peter Moore, two friends living in the Boulder area, do not fall into this category. Over a year ago, Brown heard a public radio story about the return of oil shale production around Rifle. He grew apprehensive about its possible negative impacts on the state and wanted to do something about it.If energy development is done poorly, it could pollute our air and water, basically deface our natural jewels,” Brown explained. He decided a film about oil shale would exemplify his call for energy conservation. Since Rifle was the epicenter of oil shale development, it would play a “starring” role.

Brown talked his friend Moore into moving to Colorado from Pittsburg to do this documentary. Moore had a filming background and a deep concern for the environment, so it didn’t take much convincing.

This wasn’t a student class assignment or a paid job to record the history and future of oil shale and ultimately about the oil and gas drilling. This was a project from the heart-and personal pocketbook. “We have probably invested about $15,000 of our own money to make this film,” Brown said. “We wanted others to know what was happening to Western Colorado.”

They named their film: National Sacrifice Zone: Colorado and the Cost of Energy Independence. By definition, a “National Sacrifice Zone” is an area so contaminated or so depleted of its resources that it has little or no future use.

“We have an absurd federal energy policy that basically is surrendering the Western Slope for our nation’s dependency on fossil fuels,” Moore stated. “Yes, it provides jobs; yes, it provides energy, but it’s all short termed,” he lamented.

The two film makers were not immediately enamored by the City of Rifle. “Along I-70 near Rifle there were drilling rigs, huge gravel pits and dirt