Coal not only provides energy for electricity production, it also harbors natural gas. The San Juan basin is home to thousands of wells for coal bed methane--methane gas trapped in coal seams. Methane is the main component of natural gas, which is used for heating or electricity generation.
Here is one of the estimated 30,000 well pads in the San Juan basin which has as many as 30 wells per square mile, according to activist Mike Eisenfeld of San Juan Citizens Alliance. One major concern: the impact these roads have on the ecosystem. Since the area gets very little water, vegetation does not grow back quickly as it does in other parts of the country, Eisenfeld said.
The pump jacks in this area (see on bottom right of photo) are mostly used for pumping out brackish underground water, according to Wally Drangmeister, the director of communications for the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association.