E-mail letters, Aug. 13, 2010

Oil industry has never
been properly monitored

Years ago, at a congressional hearing in Fort Bragg, a fishing town in Northern California, I testified against gas drilling off that wild Pacific coast.  The citizens hung bed sheets from their second-story windows painted, “NO DRILLING.”  They could have used the jobs but they did not want their ocean livelihood tainted by oil spills. We won.  There has been no drilling off the California northern coast ever since.
The U.S. Minerals Management Service has failed to appear at a third of gas and oil accident scenes, retrieved only 16 fines out of 400 Gulf incidents and never investigated every blowout, as their rules require according to a Houston Chronicle analysis.

The five major oil companies — BP, Chevron, ExxonMobile, ConocoPhillips, and Shell — all use the same negligent subcontractor, the Response Group, to write up their preparation plans for Gulf operations.

There are major errors and omissions that overstate a company’s preparedness to deal with uncontrollable leaks, according to AP.  Three of the companies’ 2009 plans, including BP’s, list a consultant who died five years ago. Four list protection of walruses, sea lions, and seals, which do not live in the Gulf. Clearly this plan was written for the Arctic area.
In 1981, a federal moratorium was decreed on all new offshore drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and parts of Alaska. However, all around the world rigs leak, spill, have blow-outs, release toxins, pollute the water and air, kill workers, birds and fish and ruin people’s livelihoods.

A moratorium — yes, but will the “too big to fail” oil industry learn from its glaring mistakes?
Peggy Rawlins
Grand Junction

Conservatives, independents
should get their heads on straight

I find the attitude of the conservatives and unaffiliated voters toward President Obama and the Congress to be an enigma. The more I study past presidents, the more confused I become about the negative feelings of the right wing and the independents regarding what is going on in Washington. I am also greatly concerned about the outcome of the elections in November.

Have conservatives and unaffiliated voters so quickly forgotten the eight years under President Bush and how disgusted the majority of Americans were with the lies that got us into the Iraq War and the excessive budget to fight that war? President Bush spent eight years getting us into this mess, and they expect President Obama to get us out of this black hole in less than two years?

I believe President Obama sincerely wanted to bring about change in Washington. He never expected the crises that he has had to grapple with. His agenda for change has been supersceded by the recession, the oil spill, the Afghan war, and impeded by the stonewalling of the Republican minority in Congress.

Let me ask my conservative fellow citizens, “What have the Republicans done for you? I mean really done for you?”

They have voted against the jobs bill, unemployment, health care reform, and have bucked the administration at every turn. Sometimes it takes money to make money. Whether you believe it or not, the stimulus is working. Whether you remember or not, the bank bailout began on Bush’s watch. You worry about the debt/deficit, but think retaining tax cuts for the very wealthy is a good idea. It will add billions to the debt the first year.

I just don’t get it. I wish you’d get your heads on straight.
Holly von Helms


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