Opinion » Note

Editor's Note

From Natural Gas to National Monuments

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This is one of those weird weeks when big chunks of our coverage coincidentally converge on a couple of topics. Specifically, readers of this edition of Boise Weekly will find on Page 8 an in-depth story from freelance writer Matt Furber taking a hard look at Idaho's burgeoning natural gas industry. It's a subject BW has covered extensively over the years, chronicling the promises and perils represented by tapping into the hydrocarbons sealed beneath Payette County. While many other news outlets trumpet the economic boon proffered by gas boom boosters, BW digs deeper to assess the risks and reality of drilling.

On Page 12, the issue of natural gas exploration is again taken up in News Editor George Prentice's conversation with Sierra Club Executive Michael Brune. Not surprising, Brune cautions against buying the hype surrounding the gas industry; what readers may be surprised to learn, however, is that Brune and his organization didn't always feel that way.

Beyond gas, Brune also addresses the purpose for his visit to Southern Idaho: stumping for the designation of the Boulder-White Clouds as a national monument. That's another issue regular readers of Boise Weekly have become well acquainted with, through ongoing coverage of the debate and regular opinion pieces from columnist--and Sawtooth Valley resident--John Rember. While those in favor of national monument status claim designation will permanently protect the rugged landscape, those like Rember who stand against it maintain a national monument would actually open the area to more exploitation.

One notable pro-monument individual is represented on Page 10: Bethine Church. The widow of late-U.S. Sen. Frank Church, Bethine passed away around Christmas 2013, but it wasn't until July 17 that her ashes were given to the wind at a ceremony among the Boulder-White Clouds. It was there that 4th District Court Judge Patricia Young--Bethine's cousin--said that establishing the Boulder-White Cloud National Monument was her dying wish.

In Idaho, where so much power emanates from the land itself, issues of what's both beneath the ground and growing from it wend in and out of each other as seamlessly as the rivers that carve its shape. From natural gas to national monuments, it comes down to a central issue: how best to sustain our most vital asset, our place.