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Gas Pains

Drilling for natural gas on the Western Slope has punched holes in some residents' dreams of solitude. Others see it as the way of the West.

For her part, Amy Potter has settled into her new home in Battlement Mesa, in an area she describes as more of a subdivision. However, it is one designed with enough open space between homes to accommodate future drilling. And signs of activity abound. There's a site about 1,500 feet from the only elementary school. And across the ravine that forms the rear boundary of her property is a flat empty parcel similarly earmarked for a drill. It's only about a quarter mile from her home, the same distance the wells were from her old place.

As for her old property, Robert Boruch will likely move onto it. He expects to earn more from his wells during winter, when production usually picks up. He's already watching the news and considering the possible implications of the country's brewing war with terrorists in the oil-rich Middle East. He believes that the result could be a renewed interest in oil-shale drilling that will overcome both economic and technical barriers.

"If it comes this time," he says, "there'll be no stopping it."

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