Ranchers, greens unite to fight oil and gas wells in West

Ranchers and environmentalists have traditionally gone together like chocolate and, uh, people who really hate chocolate. But of late, they have been overlooking past tussles to fight a common enemy: increasingly ubiquitous oil and gas drilling in the Western U.S. The ranchers say the drilling process often sickens or kills livestock, which are hit by drilling trucks or drink pooled antifreeze or other chemicals from contaminated disposal pits. Greens have been led on guided tours of affected ranches to document contamination. A coalition opposing drilling in New Mexico’s San Juan Basin plans to negotiate with drillers to clean up old messes in the area instead of taking the matter to court, an approach favored by area ranchers. “After all the smoke and mirrors go away, ranchers and environmentalists have a common agenda — and it is protection of the land,” said Mark Gordon, a Buffalo, Wyo., rancher.