Email letters, December 19, 2013
City’s LED lights cut substantial energy usage
I couldn’t believe the recent letter complaining about the LED lights being used downtown. Yes, some are a bit less bright, but they all save approximately 90 percent in energy used. True, a few of the large trees have smaller bulbs than they need, but overall this year’s decor is far and away the best it has ever been.
I can imagine the time and expense for the city to do all the work and to pay for all the new lights. It is, however, worth it to see our city finally join the ranks of most cities our size that have been lifting the holiday spirits for their citizens for years with similar displays.
Days of skies darkened with sage-grouse are over
This letter is written on behalf of the approximately 500 local members of the Grand Valley Audubon Society. We encourage BLM to implement the greatest possible protection to ensure the future for sage-grouse and other species relying on the same habitat.
One of our members related a story from an elderly friend who grew up in northwest Colorado. The friend had the “family job” to chase the “sage chickens” to keep them from eating her family’s poultry food. “There were so many, they darkened the sky,” she said.
That anecdote describes how much of our heritage has already been lost. No one will ever see such a sight again. For most people, the only way to see sage-grouse is to make reservations to go to a managed viewing area. The anecdote also describes how steep the decline in a single generation has been. At this rate, will the birds even be visible to our children and grandchildren?
There is also a great deal of sustainable economic benefit for preserving these species. Our chapter regularly sets up field trips to northwest Colorado to see Greater Sage-Grouse and Sharp-tailed grouse. We have hosted international visitors who have come to Colorado to see these birds, among other inhabitants of public and private lands. Several private tour companies have “grouse viewing tours.”
We also know that research has shown that the genetic diversity of the grouse makes them less resilient to changes in habitat. Half-measures will not do it. BLM should base its plan on science, knowing that adequate management for sage grouse impacts the entire ecosystem.
President, Board of Directors
Grand Valley Audubon Society
Feds obstruct drilling projects, hoard oil and gas royalties
Yesterday, Mesa County’s Federal Mineral Lease District issued grant awards of almost $2 million to local communities in our valley. Ironically, at the same time, Washington D.C. and the Department of Interior announced they would keep even more of the royalties from Western Colorado’s oil and gas production on our federal lands at the continued expense of local governments and, therefore, costing every person in our community.
This is more than an outrage when coupled with headlines like the one this week about the BLM further holding up local drilling projects. So, our community is taking a hit by federal obstruction of energy production and then taking another hit with the federal government’s choice to hoard our royalties.
I am calling on Sens. Udall and Bennett to do the right thing by restoring an equitable Federal Mineral Lease payment system for our community, for Colorado and for all of the Western states. Our U.S. senators need to make sure our state and local communities are reinstated a fair, 50 percent return share on the royalty revenues our local producers pay in.
If this doesn’t happen, the federal government will once again engender an inequitable misappropriation of funds. We simply cannot stand by and watch the continuation of this “administrative-fee” skimming that was passed in today’s federal budget deal. This taking of money from the pockets of hard-working people and businesses in energy-producing communities like our own and siphoning it into the bottomless pit of the federal bureaucracy must stop now.
We all know the waste that occurs in Washington. The budget deal should have focused on cutting this waste to solve our debt crisis rather than on misusing the Mineral Leasing Act. The feds must stop looking to Western states with our resource-rich public lands – the fulcrum of our local economy — as their slush fund.
Colorado House District 54
Ask critical questions to curtail number of suicides by firearms
The anniversary of Sandy Hook Elementary massacre, another shooting in a Colorado school and a shooting in a hospital in Nevada have marked the last few days. It is easy to feel powerless, but there is common ground where we can be united. That common ground is to consider firearms as a public health issue. Restricting accessing firearms is a reasonable prevention goal, similar to restricting access to prescription drugs and is a way to reduce death and injury due to medication misuse and overdose.
During the times when children have taken firearms to school with the end result being death and destroyed families of the victims and the perpetrator, I have not heard the question of why the firearms were not locked away. Of course, the parents have a responsibility, but we all do. There seems to be a caution to speak out. Teachers, nurses, church members, physicians and families need to have an open discussion with firearms owners. If your child has a play date, ask if the family has firearms and if the firearms are locked away. Safety and personal responsibility are both increased.
The terrible suicide rate of Mesa County is another area where we could make a difference by recognizing the role that firearms play in the consistently high suicide rate. Mesa County has four out of the top five neighborhoods in Colorado for the most firearm-related suicide deaths. At this time of year many people become depressed. Men make up the largest part of suicides. Because of their preferred choice of using firearms, 89 percent of their attempts are completed.
If people you care about show any of the warning signs of depression such as withdrawal, loss of favorite interests, sadness and hopelessness, talking of death and increased use of alcohol and drugs, ask if they have thoughts of suicide. Talk to them with empathy and get them professional and spiritual help.
If they own firearms, persuade them to give their firearms to someone for safekeeping and install key-trigger locks on all firearms. It is tragic to have a permanent solution to a temporary problem. (I would like to credit Greg Rajnowski of the Health Department.for these recommendations.)
These actions threaten no one’s rights and make all of us more responsible. These actions can save lives.
New columnist’s interpretation of judge’s ruling is inaccurate
Good to know that your new columnist, Mike Littwin, can “almost make out the wink” in County Sheriff John Cooke’s voice. I can almost make out the wink in Littwin’s voice throughout his column.
Now that Littwin has the winks figured out, he might want to work on reading comprehension skills. Littwin states that “a judge has ruled the laws aren’t vaguely written.” I am pretty sure (wink, wink) that the judge did not rule on the constitutionality of the recently passed gun laws, but that the judge ruled that county sheriffs, collectively, had no standing to argue the case.
Of course, I am pretty sure that the judge was winking when he made his ruling. Welcome, Mike! (Wink, wink.)
Sentinel perpetuates falsehood about ‘absolutists in both parties’
While the Sentinel should be congratulated for today’s editorial – “Budget without battle” – it disserves its readership by perpetuating the blatant falsehood that “absolutists in both parties” are equally responsible for instigating disorder in “the kindergarten that Congress has become.”
By now, there should be no question that reliance on such a “false equivalency” serves only to camouflage the well-established fact that Republicans (and only Republicans) were responsible for, first, threatening a government shutdown and debt ceiling default in 2011 (causing $1.3 billion in increased interest expenses in FY 2011 alone and another $17.6 billion thereafter, the largest one-day increase in our national debt—$238 billion—in history, the estimated loss of 900,000 jobs, and the temporary loss of $2.4 trillion in “household wealth”); second, for actually shutting down the government in 2013 (costing another $28 billion); and, third, for continuing to subtly threaten another “debt ceiling” crisis in 2014.
Republicans (and only Republicans) are cynically preparing the ground for that crisis by disingenuously perpetuating the myth that “default wouldn’t be that bad”. Anyone still tempted to buy-into that poppycock should read the Treasury Department’s recent report: “The Potential Macroeconomic Effect of Debt Ceiling Brinkmanship” (October 2013).
Indeed, even threatening to default on the “full faith and credit” of the United States is an act of “economic sabotage” that only “Tea Party” Republicans mindlessly advocate. As the ultra-conservative Macroeconomic Institute recently reported in “The Cost of Crisis-Driven Fiscal Policy” (October 2013), the fiscal uncertainty purposely perpetrated by Republicans has already resulted in the loss of 900,000 American jobs, and their ongoing brinksmanship and failure to raise the debt ceiling could cause another recession.
That explains why Congressman Scott Tipton felt compelled to lie about his vote to cause the “shutdown” and why the Sentinel should start telling the truth.
Article on fracking study required careful reading
After reading an AP article in the Dec. 19 edition of the Sentinel, I have to wonder how many readers see these headlines and possibly read the first few paragraphs to come to the conclusion that, yes indeed, fracking fluid is a serious threat to humans.
Even if one takes the time to read through the first half of the article, one would likely believe that most water samples taken from sites with known drilling-related incidents in the region exhibited more chemicals known to impact human sex hormone activity. Wow!
However, after reading on to the last few paragraphs of this article, one will find that no identification of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing were in the tested water. What?
In the last few paragraphs, it is stated that this study is linked to one of the nation’s most renowned anti-drilling activists. I can only hope that most readers don’t take the headlines as fact without reading and researching the entire article.