Republicans in western Colorado, long a GOP stronghold, are losing patience with the Bush administration’s relentless push for resource extraction in the state. According to a new report from the Wilderness Society, western Colorado currently has 4,500 oil and gas wells on federal public lands, and 22,000 more are in the proverbial pipeline. A total of 126,000 new wells in total are predicted to puncture Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico, and Utah in the next 20 years. Ranchers and hunters in Colorado are a big anti-drilling contingent, but are joined by plain ol’ unhappy residents who dislike seeing semis instead of wildlife and smelling chemicals instead of fresh air. “We’re seeing a lot more liberal voting in this area, and I think a lot of it has to do with energy development,” says one county commissioner. Agrees resident and hunter Bob Elderkin, who last year voted a straight Democratic ticket for the first time in his life: “The Republicans have kind of lost touch with reality.”
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