Email letters, August 13, 2013
Striking balance between energy needs, environmental protection is achievable
Concerning the story on Wednesday, Aug. 7, “Feds want plants protected in oil-shale research area,” why is it the default position in recent years to somehow believe that development and conservation are mutually exclusive? It seems that the politically accepted narrative is that we as a society can either develop our natural energy resources or preserve our natural environment, but not both. According to the article, this myth is apparently also being fostered by government agencies that ought to know better.
There is no reason to believe that the only conceivable way to protect these two wildflowers is to lock down any economic activity in the region. Experience throughout the West has actually proven otherwise. Despite claims, for instance, by some that drilling and production of natural gas in western Colorado would result in permanently damaged habitat and corresponding deer and elk population declines, the opposite has, in fact, proven true. Both elk and mule deer herds are far healthier today than they were 20 or 30 years ago, in large part because of the contributions of the oil and gas industry.
The simple fact is that we do not have to settle for the “either-or” proposition that a few within the environmental movement have foisted on us. Knowledge, technology and operating practices have advanced more than far enough to enable us to balance economically necessary development with conservation.
There is no valid need to prohibit oil shale development in the areas described in the article, any more than there is a need to accept the disappearance of these two plant species.
Scientific research doesn’t support concerns about global warming
In a letter of Aug. 9, Lindsey Wilson calls for America’s leaders to “get serious about solving global warming” and to quit “ignoring the facts.” Ironically, it appears the environmentalist themselves ignore the facts.
In a March 30 article The Australian reports a 20-year “hiatus” in the rise of global mean temperatures. This leveling of global temperatures is at the low end of the range of temperatures predicted by 20 climate models, and if it continues, this leveling will fall below the projected temperatures within a few years.
The same article references a paper published by James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, that states the lower than expected surface temperatures between 2000 and the present could be explained by increased (yes, he said increased) emissions from burning coal. David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation stated, “The global temperature standstill shows that climate models are diverging from observations.” He also said, “If we have not passed it already, we are on the threshold of global observations becoming incompatible with the consensus theory of climate change.”
The fact is that global surface warming has not followed the path predicted by climate models is widely accepted. And this has occurred as carbon concentrations in the atmosphere continue to increase.
Yes, we should be concerned about our environment. But we need to remember that climate models are computer simulations. The facts are beginning to prove them wrong. Draconian regulations to limit carbon emissions and that drag down the economy based on models that diverge from the facts seem very imprudent. But then again, true believers never let facts stand in the way of ideology.
Tipton listens to concerns about costs of green energy
Lindsey Wilson, one of our Environmental Protection Agency federal field organizers in Denver, reports that we have a problem with carbon pollution. Thus, our leaders are urged to get serious about solving global warming. In Colorado we already have moved to clean energy.
Former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter signed 57 clean-energy bills into law. He now directs The Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State. Although he took a big increase in pay, many in the state are not doing so well. William Yeatman, energy policy analyst for the Independence Institute in Denver, used Xcel’s regulatory filings and came up with a high cost for our new energy economy.
In 2012 alone, Xcel Energy spent nearly half a billion dollars on green energy in the state. This is $345 per ratepayer. On top of that, the depressed economy reduced consumption and the green energy was not needed.
If Congressman Scott Tipton and others go along with President Barack Obama’s climate action plan, our electric rates will go much higher. Coal power plants will shut down, but wind and solar will not be able to replace the lost energy. Gas-fired power plants will increase the demand and price of natural gas. Not only the cost of electricity, but also gas for home heating will continue to rise.
I want to thank Tipton for listening to those of us in Colorado who have limited bank accounts.
Human behavior drives global warming threat
August marks the anniversary of Congressman Scott Tipton’s “on the record” remarks about climate change. Last year he stated it would be futile to acknowledge that humans can affect climate change because it would “divide America.”
The difficulty with this point of view is that we know that current global warming is the result of human action. Deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels are the primary behaviors driving climate change. This relationship is well understood and accepted by 97 percent of climate scientists. Academies of science in every G-20 country have explicitly accepted this as fact. That’s as close to unanimity as possible in science, where skepticism is a professional responsibility.
Outside the university and government labs where most climate research is conducted, there’s a growing acceptance of the relationship between human behavior and global warming. This was recently extended to America’s two largest energy companies, Exxon Mobile and Chevron. On their corporate websites, both companies have sections about climate change and accept responsibility for the energy industry’s contributions to it.
Global warming is also recognized as a serious threat to our national security. The commander of the U.S. Pacific fleet has identified the impact of warming and the resulting increase in sea levels as the greatest new security threat in the Pacific region.
Our nation’s leaders cannot refuse to recognize global warming as an existing, long-term worldwide threat. If ignored, it will not go away but will only get worse. Our leaders must recognize that human, governmental action is necessary. America has to start adopting reasonable, cost-effective policies now to begin to reduce the threat.
I’d like to suggest that Exxon’s recommendation of a carbon tax would be a useful starting point for discussion in the U.S. Congress. What does Congressman Tipton think?
City Council must follow letter, spirit of TABOR
Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights is under attack on several fronts, with the current case of Kerr vs. Hickenlooper being just one attempt to obliterate it.
Kerr vs. Hickenlooper, currently in the
United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit :No. 12-1445, asserts that TABOR prevents Colorado’s government (legislators) from doing its job because it limits how much money it can spend. TABOR was designed to protect taxpayers from exactly this form of arrogance.
The legislator plaintiffs in Kerr vs. Hickenlooper seem to have forgotten that tax revenues are earned by the people to be used under the direction of the people.
Opponents of TABOR dislike the law because it limits their ability to play Santa Claus to the special interests that lobby government to fund every feel-good project that comes down the pike. It’s troubling to think that in Grand Junction, a bastion of independent folk who believe in limited government, that our own City Council refuses to respect TABOR to the full letter of the law.
Although Mesa County changed the process for calculating sales tax revenue according to TABOR rules in 2007, our commissioners reversed that error in May of this year. I tend to believe that it was more a bureaucratic snafu rather than an intentional disregard for TABOR and the spirit of limited government.
Our commissioners are responsible for keeping an eagle eye on how the county collects and spends the money earned by the hard-working people of Mesa County, and it is critical that elected officials remember they are stewards of that which citizens give them permission to accomplish.
The activities of government in a republic are directed and funded by the people, and elected officials must remember that their roles are designed to be small and few relative to the private sector.
Grand Junction’s City Council needs to follow the lead of our Mesa County commissioners and respect the letter and spirit of TABOR by correcting errors in the way it calculates and collects local tax revenue.
It would be a shameful hypocrisy on the parts of our new council members, most of whom claim to be conservative, to forget that tax revenues collected from the people of Grand Junction are not owned by the City Council to be used for pet projects or to please local special interests.
Taxes collected in Grand Junction belong to the people and must be managed according to TABOR, reflecting the limited roles of government directed according to the consent of the governed.
Grand Junction’s City Council members are guilty of “leading from behind” and risk losing credibility among the taxpayers who put them into office.
City would tread on private rights in expanding hiking trails system
We have owned and lived in our home at 2293 Broadway on the Redlands since 1968. The south 30 to 35 feet of our property make up a service road easement to Redlands Water and Power Company to provide its personnel access to maintain the First Lift Canal works. We have been informed that the city of Grand Junction and its planning commission propose to incorporate the various irrigation canal service roads into a hiking trails system.
The First Lift Canal Service Road Easement is part of our private property, and we fail to see where others should have the right of use for hiking trails when we have not specifically granted that right, while we have specifically granted the service road right of use to the Redlands Water and Power Company.
We are highly concerned about our liability if someone were to be injured while using (and trespassing on) the canal road as a hiking path. Does the city of Grand Junction intend to assume any liability if any of its citizens were injured while hiking on the canal service road and our PRIVATE PROPERTY?
If not, then the city’s demand to use our private property for its own enjoyment constitutes a taking, is odious in its concept and is a display of selfish arrogance on the part of the city.
We urge that the city forthwith abandon its plans to incorporate any citizen’s private property into the hiking trails program without first having obtained the property owners’ express and written permission and having provided property owners with written assurance that the city would assume all responsibility for the actions of the public when using the canal roads and hold the property owners harmless from all activities resulting from the use of their private property by the public at large.
Futhermore, will the city compensate the property owners for damage to their property resulting the public’s use of their private property? If not, then the city would be derelict in its duty to respect and protect the rights of the owners of the private property. The city is morally obligated to assume all civil and financial liabilities for its taking of our property.
W. T. and ADELINE R. COHAN
Be sure to turn out for meetings about closing motorized access
Joe Neuhof’s article in the Daily Sentinel on Aug. 11 was the classic environmentalist interpretation of why we must close down motorized access to our public lands. Some like to call it the “love it to death syndrome.” The environmentalists have been doing this for decades.
Removing access results in removing management and then ultimately the forest burns when it’s choked full of dry fuels and fire crews have no access to fight the fires. Unfortunately for the “quiet users,” county regulations and state law clearly define and defend legal motorized rights of way in Colorado. Based on state law, RS 2477 protects our access for all routes built prior to Oct. 21, 1976, on unreserved public lands. In 1976 Dominguez Escalante was not an NCA so our motorized rights are grandfathered in.
As seen on Cushman Creek Road near Olathe a couple weeks ago, the people and the sheriff can reopen routes that the BLM illegally closes. In Mesa County we have the support of our county commissioners, and in the 2014 election we need to make sure our new county sheriff backs legal access 100 percent.
Neuhof was appointed to the Dominguez-Escalante NCA advisory council by the federal government, not by the citizens who live here. After I attended a recent advisory council meeting, it’s my opinion that the advisory council is represented by a majority of anti-motorized access folks.
It’s very important that the public attends the remaining public meetings hosted by the advisory council/BLM. We need to voice our opinion regarding the proposed closure of 60-80 percent of the motorized routes in the NCA boundaries. We must also recognize that many of the routes labeled as “OPEN” in the DRMP will be closed for six months out of every year and some will be closed indefinitely until the BLM has the funds to repair them.
The two “travel management” public meetings are from 3 to 6 p.m. If you can get off work, please attend the Aug. 19 meeting at the Mesa County Courthouse (multipurpose room) or in Delta on Aug. 21 at the Bill Heddles Recreation Center.
Fracking’s impact on quality of water must be considered
“In the West, when you touch water, you touch everything.” Wayne Aspenall
The most important economic engines in Western Colorado in the recent past have been agriculture, extraction and tourism.
Agriculture’s long-term stability is based on the simple fact that if our farmers or ranchers maintain the health of their land and the climate (including upstream water) co-operates with them, they will succeed in a peaceful life of productive individual initiative, and, as a very nice perk,
feed the rest of us. This sun-powered engine can run indefinitely.
Extraction, like a flashy hotrod, has always been a short-term, boom-and-bust economic engine with almost the same romantic effect on us.
The two reasons for this are:
√ In order for extraction to be profitable, it usually requires large initial investments often more than the local economy can afford. Money that comes from outside the extraction area invariably brings with it profit requirements of distant investors. Apart from the high-paying, short-term jobs created by such projects, distant investment goals often end up at odds with the long-term happiness of people who live in or near an industrialized area.
√ After whatever the distant investors wanted has been extracted and the profits distributed, there is little or no incentive to undo the sometimes-devastating effects of extraction on the local environment. Other than his final profits, will a CEO in Norway (the Fram project currently before the BLM is partly owned by a Norwegian firm) or Canada or China care anything about the long-term water quality in the Grand Valley?
We in the Grand Valley should be asking ourselves. How much money would it take to clean benzene or some other carcinogen out of our aquifer? How could anyone even begin to correct such a horrifically destructive problem?
U.S. petroleum production is actually clipping along
In the Sunday Sentinel a letter writer lamented that radical environmentalists are “winning a clear victory in their ongoing war to prevent the American people from producing one drop of petroleum from our own lands.” Well, it’s been said many times that one is entitled to his/her own opinion but not his/her own facts.
The fact is that “U.S. production reached 7.4 million barrels per day early this month, 48 percent higher than the average production in 2008 and the highest it’s been since February of 1992. The IEA expects U.S. production to reach 9.1 million barrels per day by 2018. The U.S. last produced that much oil in 1972.”
Hard to see what war the environmentalists are winning at this pace of oil production growth.
The above quote came from an Associated Press article on May 14 this year. I happened to find it at that home of “fair and balanced” news reporting, foxnews.com.