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John Hollenhorst ReportingNatural gas prices hit an all-time high today, which is part of the reason your gas bill will jump dramatically this winter. That impact on your wallet is already being used as ammunition in one of Utah's leading environmental battles, which is about to heat up again.
Controversy over energy development has been boiling for a couple of years in the area near Nine Mile Canyon, which is famous for archaeological sites.
Heidi McIntosh, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance: "This is a very rare jewel, one of national importance."
Environmentalists battled the Bill Barrett Energy Corporation over seismic exploration work just outside the canyon. Now the company wants to drill as many as 750 wells.
Heidi McIntosh, So. Utah Wilderness Alliance: "And that's what we said at the time. We were very concerned that this was the camel's nose under the tent and that this would lead to huge developments."
Questar Gas is not directly involved in the project. But Questar's C.E.O. says it's an example of what industry has to do to meet demand.
Keith Rattie, CEO & Chairman, Questar: "Well today natural gas prices hit an all-time high. The prices are sending us a clear message, we've got a supply problem. We need more supply."
The typical natural gas bill in Utah last January was 150 dollars. That will jump to at least 200 dollars this January, assuming similar weather conditions. Questar says the industry needs to drill for more supplies.
Keith Rattie: "I am absolutely certain that we have the capability to do the job in a way that won't have lasting impacts on the environment."
Heidi McIntosh: "There are places where there are abundant gas reserves. And those are the places we ought to be going. And not places that are irreplaceable."
The BLM has pledged a full study of all impacts in and around Nine Mile Canyon. Public meetings are set for October 18, 19 and 20th. Those public meetings will be in Price, Salt Lake and Roosevelt.