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Upstream of the Colorado River, 10,000 oil and gas wells have created an industrial wasteland

By Lauren Gilger
Published: Wednesday, August 16, 2023 - 10:50am
Updated: Wednesday, August 16, 2023 - 10:51am

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An oil well in northern Utah
Getty Images
An oil well in northern Utah

Let’s take a trip upstream of the Colorado River to eastern Utah’s Uinta Basin, where there are more than 10,000 active oil and gas wells.

Local environmentalists have dubbed it Mordor — a grim reference to “The Lord of the Rings.” The sparsely populated area has air quality as poor as Beijing.

Stephanie Mencimer went there to report on the environmental concerns posed by having this kind of industry just north of the mighty Colorado. Mencimer is a senior reporter for Mother Jones, and The Show spoke with her more about it.

Stephanie Mencimer rafting on the White River in Utah
Russel Albert Daniels
Stephanie Mencimer (center) on the White River in Utah

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