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What financial crisis? Rifle residents sitting pretty

©

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2008-12-10

Less than three weeks before the US elections, voters across the country are preoccupied by the economy. Except in Rifle, a Colorado town where the inhabitants are sitting on colossal gas reserves.

Neither the financial crisis nor the next choice of president can reduce Rifle’s appetite for energy.

In this Colorado town, which sits on enormous gas reserves, both companies and locals are prospering from an economic boom.

“50% of natural gas used in the USA comes from wells drilled in the last 40 months. That shows huge demand. All the candidates recognize that. They recognize the importance of energy independence for this country,” explains Doug Hock, spokesperson for the gas company Encana.

In Rifle, the day labourers are rich, their bosses are millionaires, and the housing market, unlike the rest of the United States, is not in crisis.

“My business this year is quite good. Last year my business was outstanding,” says Nella Barker, a real estate agent. Rafeal, a driller, shares her enthusiasm. For fours days’ hard work, he earns 2000 dollars.

“If McCain gets in, business won’t boom…but it’ll probably level out and be steady. Whereas if Obama gets in, he’ll try to cut back on drilling in the US,” explains Rob McPherson, a senior driller.

The other side of the coin

Gas labourers work 24 hours a day. Time is money. The noise of the excavators and trucks never stops.

John and Darlene built their ranch overlooking Rifle 15 years ago. At the time it was their idea of paradise - no noise, an unspoiled view, the epitome of peace and quiet. Now, it is surrounded by derricks.

“That well you see there, makes $1 million a month. That one, beside the tanks … $1 million a month, too,” explains John Skellion. His wife adds: "They want to drill, drill, drill! They want to pump that money out of the ground. We own the ground, we own the surface rights, but we don’t own the mineral rights. None of it. If they come and drill a well on my property, I get nothing.”

No surprise then: their vote goes to Obama, whom they see as the greener candidate.

Date created : 2008-10-17

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