Email letters, February 18, 2014

Those complaining about air must not be driving vehicles

I guess all the folks complaining about the nasty air in the valley either ride bikes or skateboards, walk or roller skate to work and the movies or wherever they go. They must power and heat their homes by solar or wind.

The people who had their pictures taken at a producing well site with respirators on should have to prove they had to wear them. I’ve been on many well pads and didn’t have to have anything like that on.

STEVE THOMAS
Montrose

Otto could not have envisioned exploitation of monument

This letter is regarding a comment in the Sunday “You Said It” column. It said that the Colorado National Monument does not exist to promote the sale of “T-shirts and tacos.” I quite agree.

Once again we are hearing and seeing in this newspaper about all the concern over our air quality and needing more air rules adopted. An editorial in the same Sunday paper mentioned how we need “smart air protection” from the ground ozone layer, hydrocarbons and energy industry contaminates. People will soon be complaining once again about the spring “open burning” of our fields and ditches for agricultural needs.

And yet, these are the same people and paper that continue to promote changing our monument to a park and drawing more attention to the community and to us. They talk of the big “boon” that it will bring to us. The big “boon” economically. A “big boon this, big boon that.” The one thing that is always conveniently left out of their argument is that, with this big boon, come big problems such as more traffic, exhaust fumes, litter, people, pollution and assuredly more crime.

Terri Chappell and others who are pushing for this change view the monument only through the prism of a dollar bill. The energy industry and the agricultural needs mentioned above are critical to our small-town atmosphere and close-knit community. And yes, they do indeed foul the air from time to time, also they are a “genuine” necessity. Changing our monument to a park is not. Why then would we desire to confound the air quality problem we occasionally face now by inviting more traffic here?

Down through history, however, that’s what it has always taken for mankind to realize what it had and then surrendered. So. perhaps the answer is to make it a park.

And when Chappell and other like-minded souls have grown weary of pulling plastic water bottles out of Cold Shivers Point, cleaning up litter along Rim Rock Drive, removing graffiti from the sandstone walls and filling in the potholes from increased traffic, they can take a “big boon” breath of even more polluted air than what we now face, as they sell T-shirts and tacos at the monument entrance.

John Otto may have embraced the idea of a national park one day. But he never envisioned that it would be exploited to this extent. To paraphrase Joni Mitchell’s song, ” You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone; let’s pave paradise and put up a parking lot.”                                         

DUANE HARRIS
Grand Junction

Air quality rules must reflect state’s diversity

State air quality regulators need to reconsider their proposed new air quality rules and use this opportunity to create rules that take into consideration each diverse region of our state independently. The current rules that were adopted a few years ago do not speak to the diversity that this great state embodies; as such, they serve as an injustice to the people of Colorado. Current oil and gas development takes place in both the Front Range and western Colorado.

Eastern and western Colorado see even greater diversity when one begins to consider each area independently: south central, southwestern, southeastern, as well as the northeast, northwest and some of the I-70 corridor. Each of these areas differs in topography, climate, geography, ambient air quality and population.

The commission needs to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to such a very complex issue and instead adopt a policy that takes into account all of these differences in order to make new rules that are more applicable to each specific area.

BROOK BLANEY
Grand Junction

Coloradans urged to protect Social Security benefits

I don’t know about you, but I have been hearing in the news that some politicians want to make changes to Social Security and Medicare. What? Why? This is what I want to know, and I’m sure you do, too.

Some politicians are saying that a deficit in Social Security is adding to the national debt. This is not true. Social Security’s trust fund has a $2.7 trillion surplus that continues to grow as more money is paid into it than benefits are paid out. Without making any changes, full benefits can be paid through 2033. Beyond that, actuaries project a modest gap between taxes collected and benefits paid. One reason we are seeing a gap after 2033 is due to the Bush administration’s tax break to the wealthy. Eliminating the payroll tax cap would require millionaires to contribute the same percent of their income as everyone else.

Did you know that the average Social Security benefit is about $1,294 a month? When the prices of food, heating, health care and fuel continue to go up, the Social Security Cost-of-Living Adjustment doesn’t increase at the same pace. Lately, we have heard that many members of Congress and the president want to change the way the COLA is figured by using a “chained-CPI” (consumer price index) to determine how much the Social Security benefit will increase. But, using this method, after three years, we will see a decrease to the COLA of about $130 a year for a 65-year-old. In 30 years, that same person would see a decrease of $1,400 in benefits per year. I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to let that happen to my family or me.

Why does this matter to Coloradans? Colorado continues to see an increase in its elder population. According to data from the State Demography Office, between 2000 and 2010, seniors 65 and older represented a 32 percent increase, or an additional 133,552 statewide. Colorado is growing faster in the population over 65 than in any other age range, and faster than all of Colorado’s population.

If you consider the population in 5-year-age cohorts, the age group of 60-64 increased by 86 percent or 124,695. The most startling fact is that the 85-and-older age group experienced a 44.4 percentage growth in that same 10-year period.

So, what will this population look like in the future? Between 2010 and 2020, the 65 and older population will grow by 61 percent from 549,629 to 891,970. Most of this is a result of the “Baby Boomers” (aged 55-64) who will be aging into the 65 and older cohort at a rate of 7 percent a year or 70 percent in 10 years. And, by 2030, this age group (65 and older) will exceed 1.2 million in Colorado.

So, think of the buying power that will be lost if the 1.2 million seniors who will be living in Colorado are receiving less money each year in Social Security benefits. Please, don’t let Congress reduce any of our Social Security benefits (money that we have paid into while working) by changing the annual COLA increase to the “chained CPI.”

JEANETTE HENSLEY
Colorado Senior Lobby, Board Member
Colorado Commission on Aging, CD 3 representative
National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, CD 3 representative
Grand Junction

 
Sandy Dorr deserves credit for creating Writers’ Forum

I was pleased to see coverage on the Western Colorado Writers’ Forum on Sunday. The Sentinel, however, missed the opportunity to give much-earned credit to the outgoing director, Sandy Dorr.

It was Dorr’s vision that led to her creation of the nonprofit Writers’ Forum four years ago during the economic downturn, when few thought it could succeed. Due to her passion and commitment, the forum has become a visible and integral part of this community by partnering with more than 25 organizations and businesses for programs and events.

Dorr leaves an organization that is solvent, with a strong, capable board and a bright future. While she deserves a much-needed break, she remains on the forum board as an advisor and continues to mentor many writers. She is also serving on a statewide panel selecting the next Colorado Poet Laureate.

This community has a history of recognizing the contributions of organizational founders and leaders; to have missed those of Dorr was an unfortunate oversight.

MARILYN ROBINSON
Grand Junction

Horses, inconsiderate hikers damage trails more than bikes

Howie Wolke, owner of Wild Horizons Expeditions, should have been more honest in his complaints about mountain bikes.

I am a mountain biker but also a hiker, fisherman and trad climber. I’m a member of the International Mountain Biking Association, but also the Wilderness Society. Wolke’s comments would lead one to believe that his main concern is environmental damage caused by bikers.

As someone who has hiked and climbed extensively in wilderness areas for more than 50 years and mountain biked in areas that are seldom used by hikers, I can tell you from firsthand experience that the damage caused by mountain bikes pales in comparison to the damage caused by horses and inconsiderate hikers who will not walk through mud, causing trails to widen and erode. Outfitters using pack horses can have as many as 15 animals in their pack train, leaving trails looking as if a maniac has mangled them with a rototiller.

I have hiked miles in the Wind River Range, trudging through horse manure and flies left by outfitters’ pack trains. Mountain bikes are not allowed in wilderness areas, primitive areas or in wilderness study areas. The region Wolke is talking about does not carry any of those designations. By the way, I agree with federal laws that ban bikes from designated wilderness areas.


Wolke should just admit that he just doesn’t like having mountain bikes on his trails and not make arguments that are basically exaggerations. It’s OK with me that he doesn’t like mountain bikes; I don’t like horses (largely because every one of my father’s tried to kill me).

Horses, however, cause much more trail and ecosystem damage than mountain bikes do. They’re the ones that poop on the trails and in streams and lakes and whose feed carries the seeds of invasive weeds. They’re also the ones allowed in wilderness areas.

GARY STETLER
Grand Junction

Editorial on hydrocarbons as greenhouse gas sparks questions

You refer to “hydrocarbons as greenhouse gas.” Greenhouse gas is obviously not a phrase you initiated. My observation is that the phase first showed up at the same time as “global warming” and basically referred to carbon dioxide. The point being made was basically that heat striking Earth’s surface from the sun was being reflected back into the atmosphere and carbon dioxide reflected that same heat back to the surface.

Since you seem to buy into this, perhaps you can educate me and other doubters by answering a few questions.

1. When did the phrase first show up? My memory is it was after the “smokestack folks” realized industry had basically managed to filter out the solid particulates and only released water vapor and gas into the atmosphere. Where am I wrong?

2. Just what is greenhouse gas? I’ve been in many greenhouses during my 81 years and all had the same gas as the atmospheric gas around them. Greenhouses basically have a “static atmosphere” which may be overheated by the sun’s radiation. Otherwise, the temperature is basically influenced by the local temperature. This necessitates artificial temperature control at times. The more sophisticated may also modify the humidity. Same for all structures. Where am I wrong? 

3. I do not have technical credentials to question that carbon dioxide reflects heat. I assume that has been validated by laboratory tests. However, the test data would only allow the “global warming promoters” to speculate and make claims for atmospheric changes they can neither prove nor quantify. Unlike the “static atmosphere” of a greenhouse or a laboratory test, Earth has a very “dynamic atmosphere.” Just plain old common sense credentials are sufficient to realize there is no way to test the theory in the real world. Where am I wrong?

4. “Global Warming Promoters” seem claim an increase from 1 to 2+ F degrees in the Earths average temperature in the past 100+ years. My High School Science Teacher always required answers based on consistency of data for both Instruments and the location of measurements. He would have considered the data we are being asked to accept to be totally ridicules because 1) It is meaningless since Earth’s temperatures vary so significantly by seasons, geography and time of day. 2) Neither the instruments nor the locations for measured data have been consistent. Was old Doc wrong?

5. The reality is we don’t actually know if Earth is warming and we couldn’t reverse things if we tried. Our real problem is we seem to be prepared to accept this theory from folks that are not smart enough to know this. Either that or they have an agenda we peasants probably won’t like. Where am I wrong?

I could make more points, but that shouldn’t be necessary, assuming you can explain where was I wrong.

CHARLES T. OVERSTREET
Hotchkiss

Folks who cannot breathe in valley should go to Navajo reservation

Clean air ... another meeting to figure out how “we” can keep the valley air quality above average.

How about we start with a large filter at the Utah border to keep the dust in the spring and summer from blowing? Next, we should get rid of all the farmers in the valley; never mind that their farms are generational. I’m sure the county could use eminent domain to take their land. Next we need to have all the rational, common sense folks move.

Maybe the county could screw all those folks out of home values and then invite all the liberals to move in and take all the stolen homes over to start “green” businesses, and they can congregate weekly and play reggae music.

Honestly, you moved to a valley; the science is against you, since the city wants to grow and more and more people move here. The farmers burn in the spring to clear all the dead growth,

Folks who have a hard time breathing need to go to the Navajo reservation; there is hardly anyone there. Take a long vacation, move and tell them what they should do to their land. You’ll breath easier, and so would we. All imports, please leave. Go ... somewhere else.

MIKE PARKER
Fruita

All the uninsured could have just signed up for Medicaid

With all the billions spent on the government website, the Obamacare exchanges, all the silly advertising, all the additional people who were hired to handle but a very few new enrollees, all to the dissatisfaction of the vast majority of the taxpayers, wouldn’t it have been cheaper just to let all the uninsured just sign up for Medicaid? Just wondering.

L.W. HUNLEY
Grand Junction



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As we finally near full legislation, thousands have learned about national park status through http://www.gjforparkstatus.com.  For those who have not:
1.  Colorado National Monument is here because of John Otto’s passionate and perfect “vision” to make it a national park. No need to presume what Otto “might” think today when his own eloquent words ring crystal clear across the decades, “I came here last year and found these canyons and they feel like the heart of the world to me.  I’m going to stay and build trails and promote this place because it should be a national park.” 

2.  Visitors driving I-70 to see Utah’s famed national parks regularly bypass our Monument.  If re-designation convinces some to try local restaurants, hotels, wineries and shops (or buy t-shirts from the Monument’s existing gift shop) that would indeed “boost” tax revenues and “needed” funding for our public safety , schools and infrastructure. 

3.  Visitors headed to Utah are ALREADY using I-70 so added pollution is an unlikely issue.  Tourism is among the world’s cleanest industries.

4.    Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument once had a trash problem.  Today,  higher visitation to Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP funds regular clean ups.

5.    A detailed conservation effort is in progress for land surrounding Colorado National Monument.  Those truly concerned about its protection should join it.

6.    For the record, GVRCNP has never accepted funds.  The extensive unpaid time I’ve volunteered over the past year is inspired by my treasured memories, daily view of and love for our national Monument.

We’re grateful Tillie Bishop, Jamie Hamilton, Josh Penry, Warren Gore, Jay Seaton, Bernie Buescher,  Bruce Benge,  Tim Foster, Theresa High, COGA, Museum of the West and thousands more respected businesses, organizations, and residents carefully evaluated the facts then chose to support this historic effort.  Let’s leave name calling to lesser playgrounds.  Exhaustive research and interviews confirm for many, this is the right thing to do.  We invite anyone interested in the facts to contact us anytime.
Terri L. Chappell
GVRCNP
260-5242

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