Rocky Mountain High

COVER STORY

The energy boom brings soaring prospects—but some woes as well

"What do we want with this worthless area, this region of savages and wild beasts, of shifting sands and whirlwinds of dust, of cactus and prairie dogs? To what use could we ever hope to put these great deserts and these endless mountain ranges?" — Daniel Webster

When the esteemed U.S. Secretary of State from Massachusetts uttered those words in 1852, he was only echoing the haughty contempt that many Easterners felt toward what map makers then labeled the Great American Desert. Even today, the eight...