The issue of prioritizing the environment and economic development come down to an issue of what is possible. Imagine that you have a gold deposit in the middle of a wildlife preserve. On one end of the spectrum you have the possible choice to go in and strip mine the area to get the gold out and leave a wasteland behind. On the other end you have the choice to simply sit on the gold forever and protect the wildlife. Both options have their downsides. It certainly seems like a solution which falls between the two would come down much closer to the environmentally conscious side. Perhaps a smaller mining operation that took longer to extract the gold and at higher cost. It is possible to get the gold out carefully if you are willing to accept a reduced profit margin. It is not possible to restore the lost wildlife if you build a strip mine. Therefore, you need to prioritize the environment over economic development.
We should try to find other resources to use that do not damage our environment. We are relying to much on items that either cannot be replenished or will take too much time to replenish effectively. We need to work towards a cleaner world and if that means that we have to take a few steps back then that is what we have to do.
I'm not unrealistic about the planet's massive need of natural resources. I only mean to suggest that the planet and its many varied environments are our greatest natural resource. People should be able to figure out ways to do things without destroying the environment. We only have a single planet, if it's destroyed then so are we.
Given the known problems we have with the environment, I fail to understand why we continue to let companies tear the land apart to access more finite resources. We will run out of these resources, we shouldn't tear the planet apart trying to access every last drop. I believe protection of the environment should take precedence.