Talk of Gas Drilling Splits Pro-Bush Factions in West
By Blaine Harden
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 4, 2003; Page A01
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CHOTEAU, Mont. -- The Great Plains smack into the Rockies just west of here. The collision of flatness and
verticality results in the Rocky Mountain Front, the only place in the West where large numbers of grizzlies, elk and bighorn
sheep still wander down out of the mountains and take their leisure on the grassy plain.
Seven years ago, the U.S. Forest Service ruled that the Front deserved "special attention" and halted new
oil and gas leasing. Hunters, hikers and assorted lovers of this 100-mile-long stretch of wildernessbreathed a collective
sigh of relief. ...
But now, with natural gas prices up sharply and with President Bush making domestic energy production a national
security priority, the fight over the Front is back on. Although the Forest Service's ban on new leases remains in effect,
the Bureau of Land Management is reviewing plans by three companies with existing leases to extract gas from eight wells.
© 2003 The Washington Post Company