Email letters, Nov. 2, 2012

Continued perks for the rich mean poor prospects for others

There has been little expanded commentary on the consequences of highly profitable and wealthy U.S. entities using tax loopholes/evasion and harmful actions regarding our economy.

Despite stated income tax rates of 35 percent for corporations and wealthy individuals, these entities actually only contribute to federal revenue at rates averaging 18 percent. Many Fortune 500 companies and 2,100 individual millionaires paid no income tax in 2011.

The Cayman Islands are sequestering from profitable/wealthy entities’ own governments/economies $1.6 trillion … with a “t” … other Caribbean islands and Swiss banks another $19 to 29 trillion. Economists and your local chamber of commerce will tell you that every dollar injected into, or removed from, an economy will have a fivefold impact.

Thus, the resultant financial impact to government deficits from these offshore havens is almost unfathomable. Yet the perpetrators are lambasting the governments for their deficits and have the audacity to call for bigger tax breaks for themselves and benefit reductions for the elderly, unemployed, children and disabled.

The recent federal stimulus plan was supposedly big at $816 billion. One—yes, just one—U.S corporation, Exxon Mobil, had more than that amount in revenue in the same period. If corporations are as patriotic as they relate, why didn’t they make even nominal expenditures on research, minor equipment purchases, facility maintenance, increased dividends to shareholders and other measures so that we wouldn’t have needed a federal stimulus?

Big business instead continued to invest in manufacturing, customer service and even professional jobs in China, the Far East and India … and shuffled even more money to offshore tax shelters. Corporations are sitting on $2 trillion of idle cash right now.

If wealthy entities continue to beat down government and economies with their selfishness and manipulation, there is a disastrous future for 70 percent of Americans.

JOEL PRUDHOMME
Grand Junction

Developers must refine methods of oil shale extraction

Please consider our air, water and land.

Commercial oil shale development isn’t ready for prime time, and no amount of posturing by industry or its front groups such as Environmentally Conscious Consumers for Oil Shale will change that. This has been an established fact since 1890, 1977 and now.

There may come a day when commercial oil shale development is viable, and, if it does, we as a community can decide how to proceed while still protecting our water. In the meantime the oil shale industry should get its facts straight and stop misrepresenting the stance of other stakeholders such as local governments, water groups and sportsmen.

This is a backwards way to democracy—they’d be better off spending their time trying to come up with viable commercial technology, which they’ve failed to do despite decades of taxpayer investments, than spreading misinformation.

PIERA KLLANXHJA
Grand Junction

Closely examine water usage before approving drilling on public lands

I’m glad to see that area businesses are holding the Chamber of Commerce accountable when it comes to oil shale development. Giving the green light to proceed with large-scale, commercial oil shale development before companies even have viable technology or know what the impacts on our water resources would be just doesn’t make sense.

Energy companies have long been unsuccessful in developing oil shale at a commercial level. And now there are serious questions about how much water commercial development would use.

As Gary Harmon reported in “River demands exceed supplies,” this is a here-and-now problem that is of great concern to the Grand Valley and greater Colorado. It’s important that companies that seek to drill on our public lands first prove their technology for commercial scale operations and determine how much water their operations would require.


MARY THOM
Grand Junction

Environmentalist splinter groups really make up a single entity

So, it seems that the Denver based environmentalist “watchdog” group, Checks and Balances, is in a tizzy over how Environmentally Conscious Consumers for Oil Shale analyzed the comments to the BLM regarding that agency’s recent study concerning oil shale development and leasing.

As the story alludes, C&B co-director Matt Garrington thinks that counting one letter of support signed by a number of groups as one letter of support is an egregious bit of manipulation. Well, he and his cohorts would know a thing or two about that.

As more and more people are starting to realize, the environmental movement has for many years organized itself at the local levels into various splinter groups for the express purpose of creating the illusion of wider and more varied support than it actually enjoys. For instance, in a particular area, the local environmentalist lobby may form, say, “Such-and-such River Conservation Alliance,” Ranchers for the Spotted Owl,” “Save Our Local Forest League,” “Citizens Against Heat and Light” and the “Sagebrush Protection Coalition” …  all mostly the same people, sharing the same staff, funded from the same sources.

Then, when the time comes to weigh in on a particular issue, such as oil shale, all of these splinter groups can sign on to a single letter, confident that the public-relations arm of their network, folks such as Checks and Balances, will ensure that they are counted as separate organizations, not the single entity that in reality they are.

ECCOS was entirely correct in realizing this political reality and using the BLM’s own matrix in its analysis. It should be credited with seeing through the political games played by the environmental lobby and providing a truer picture to the public.

DENNIS WHITE
Grand Junction

Belief that oil shale industry uses too much water is all wet

The contention by some Democratic lawmakers and bureaucrats in Nevada and Arizona that potential oil shale development in Colorado poses a risk to their water quality and supply does not hold up. Neither does their transparent attempt at appearing to look reasonable in their purely ideological opposition to oil shale by pretending to merely want “more research.”

Several studies by various entities have been completed on the topic of water use and quality as it relates to oil shale. A lack of study is not the problem for these Democrats and their environmentalist allies – the problem is that the results do not substantiate their claims against oil shale.

Regarding water quality, the Colorado River Water Conservation District’s Chris Treese summed it up when he correctly stated that downstream users such as Nevada’s Clark County would “not see any change in their water quality – none.” As Treese explains, basic geography and hydrology – such as the amount of dilution that naturally occurs between northwest Colorado and Las Vegas – coupled with existing water quality regulations, which any oil shale operator would be required to comply with, are more than sufficient to prevent contamination of Nevada’s portion of Colorado River water.

As for supply, even a worst-case scenario has a full-fledged commercial oil shale industry using far less water – 2 percent, which is already allocated – than most other users, including agriculture.

Since water quality and supply are clearly not the real issue, what is? The Democrats in question made a point of ostentatiously saying that they “weren’t trying to tell Colorado what to do or interfere in its economy,” but that is precisely what they are doing—for political reasons that have nothing to do with water.

Water IS a critical issue in the American West; but because it is, decisions involving it need to be fact-based. Water should not be used as a convenient political card.

ROBBIE G. KOOS
Grand Junction

President’s accomplishments could easily fill a blank sheet of paper

Tom Keenan completely missed the point when he responded to my letter regarding Josh Penry’s column claiming President Obama had no record but, rather, it was equivalent to a “blank sheet of paper.” What I said in my Letter to the Editor was you might disagree with it, but Obama DOES have a record. I went on to enumerate Obama’s accomplishments, and Keenan then took exception to Obama’s record.

Let me respond point by point to Keenan’s observations: (1) “Obama is taking $716 billion out of Medicare to pay for Obamacare.” Yes, he cut that amount based on doctors and hospitals overcharging Medicare. He is not cutting services; he is looking for cost efficiencies. The Republicans like to accuse the federal government of inefficient bureaucracy, but when the Obama administration tries to create efficiencies to expand coverage, these same anti-government naysayers, including Keenan, cry out, “They are cutting my government retirement benefits!”

(2) Keenan then goes on to talk about “the 15 member panel in D.C.” turning down knee replacement but approving instead “a cane, then crutches, then a walker and finally a wheelchair.” Where do these distorted fabrications come from? Who said, “You can have an opinion, but you cannot make up facts?”

(3) Medicare and Social Security are both incredibly efficient programs and run at one-quarter of the administrative costs of private insurance. (And Keenan certainly experiences these federal government program efficiencies if he is over 65.)  We certainly need to adjust these programs to survive in perpetuity. But how about starting by allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug companies to lower the cost to seniors to access needed medication? Billions could have been saved, but this was a nonstarter for the Bush administration, thus allowing obscene windfall profits paid by Medicare.

(4) The war in Iraq was Bush’s war built on lies, and it was Obama who kept his promise and got us out. Obama also made it a priority to go after Osama bin Laden. Bush didn’t get him, and Romney said it wasn’t a priority to pursue one man.  And, yes, I agree that Gitmo is still open.

(5) GM is alive and well. Romney said to let them go under. If some nonunion members did not get the benefits given union members (and I doubt your figures!), there is a simple solution: Join the UAW. It is clear by your own argument that there are great benefits to be gained by joining unions.

(6) Yes, the deficit has grown to save us from a depression. What would Keenan have us do?  Have the entire nation go bankrupt, as Romney suggested for the auto industry? That sure would have fixed the problems that, by the way, Obama inherited.

(7) As far as attacks on our embassies; very sad but the Middle East is a difficult long-term problem that will not be easily or quickly fixed. If an embassy is threatened, what would Keenan do?  Start another war?

(8) Finally, “Fast and Furious” was an attempt to increase gun control, according to Keenan. This is where Keenan completely loses it and reverts to the National Rifle Association maxim “every action by government leads to gun control.” It is paranoia bordering on psychopathic reactions.

Sorry, but Keenan’s anger and distortions are better left as a rant among his friends and not delivered as fact to be published by the newspaper.

HARMON LISNOW
Loma

Next president will influence future high court rulings

The truth about this election is all about the Supreme Court. The truth is the next president will appoint one and possibly four justices. That’s the truth.

JOHN A. IJAMS
Grand Junction

Colorado experts better qualified to speak about oil shale issue than out-of-state officials

It is unfortunate and, quite frankly, insulting that a handful of state and local officials in Nevada and Arizona would take it upon themselves to support an ill-conceived and politically motivated BLM proposal to eliminate the vast majority of oil shale-prospective lands from consideration for leasing and development, based on erroneous misconceptions regarding water quality and use,

The officials, unsurprisingly all Democrats, do not want a balanced approach. Their agenda is to halt oil shale development in its tracks – regardless of the facts, the outcomes of any studies or the benefits of oil shale production.

Chris Treese of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, and Dr. Jeremy Boak, director of the Center for Oil Shale Technology and Research at the Colorado School of Mines, are noted experts in their field and are more qualified to speak on matters pertaining to the Colorado River and oil shale development than are the distinguished officials from Nevada and Arizona.

As Treese pointed out, these folks and their jurisdictions would see absolutely no negative impacts on their water quality from oil shale development, due to both geology and the established processes and regulations already in place.

Similarly, Boak called attention to the facts that many of the oil shale zones those companies are working on are isolated by depth, geology and process from groundwater and that the technologies being developed by the industry to access this resource are specifically designed to protect groundwater.

In terms of water usage, Boak also reminds us that the amount of water that might at most be used in the production of oil shale is a tiny fraction of that used by agriculture, and yet there is no protest from our neighbors over this usage.

These Nevada and Arizona officials are merely advancing a political agenda and are shamelessly hiding behind unfounded concerns and using the emotional issue of water to do so.

KATHY HALL
Grand Junction



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