Email letters, February 5, 2014

Given rich energy resources, oil and gas industry here to stay

I felt obligated to respond to the notion that the oil and gas industry in Colorado is simply a fly-by-night industry, as its recent actions in our state indicate otherwise. This notion isn’t an accurate depiction of the situation here in Colorado, especially as it pertains to the oil and gas industry’s long-term future in the state.

Why would those in the industry be investing billions every year in infrastructure, research and production if they planned on just uprooting all at once?

On top of that, why would oil and gas companies leave such an energy-rich state, given the energy production methods (like fracking) that we are now using to access vast, untapped reserves of the precious oil and natural gas that will lead our country to energy independence?

The answer, of course, is that they don’t plan on leaving, because they understand Colorado’s enormous potential for sustained energy development. This is, despite the author’s claims, a stable industry, one that provided $30 billion in economic activity, $1.6 billion in tax revenues and more than 110,000 jobs to our state last year.

The tremendous advances we’ve made with fracking and other production technologies mean that our state will be able to produce significant amounts of energy for many years and that energy will continue to serve as an essential cog in Colorado’s economic engine. Oil and gas workers are our friends, families and neighbors, and casting them as transient profiteers does a disservice to both them and an industry that provides our state with remarkable economic, environmental, and energy benefits.

The only thing that could drive this critical industry from our state would be bans on fracking and other production technologies, backed by extremists wholly opposed to production of energy sources with which they don’t agree.


‘Only’ 495 oil, gas spills still hurt Colorado’s environment

It is hardly disputable that oil and gas spills, regardless of their frequency, are incredibly damaging to Colorado’s natural environment.

It sounds as if Mike Foster wants me to be reassured that we “only” saw 495 spills last year instead of 1,000 or 10,000, whereas 495 spills is still more than one per day. In other words, statistics and numbers distort the bottom line, which is that — whether common or not — the possibility of spills occurring is still a hazard. It is important that there be an end goal of preventing such disasters entirely.

If we want our energy without the potential for spilling and environmental damage at all, solar energy serves as an alternate solution for resource development in Colorado. It has great potential as an energy source without the potential for damage that accompanies oil and gas drilling.

For the in-state activist groups and individual citizens alike who are overlooked by Foster’s plan, don’t let renewable energy also be overlooked, for it is truly the key to preserving our beautiful state of Colorado.



Valley’s pollution takes toll not only on produce, but also on people

As a relative newcomer to the Grand Valley who chose to make this area home because of its natural beauty and community amenities, I was dismayed by the air quality issues of the last two winters.

Beyond the ugliness of the smog and its negative effects on human health, as an agricultural economist, I knew that there were also negative effects on agriculture.

Ozone, which is produced in the air when volatile organic compounds interact with sunlight and nitrogen compounds, is bad for both plants and animals. For crops, the negative effects begin when ozone concentrations reach 40 parts per billion. In the valley it is not uncommon to see ozone concentration spikes in the summer well above 60 ppb. For perennial crops such as grapes, peaches and cherries, both quantity and quality of the fruit are reduced, with effects that continue over several years.

While many sources of VOCs are in the Grand Valley, the oil and gas industry is the largest of the human sources. And with the expected growth in the industry in the coming years, the potential for ever-greater ozone concentrations is very real.

Fortunately, cost-effective technologies are available to the oil and gas industry to reduce its emissions dramatically. Many companies have already adopted them. The proposed rules by the Air Quality Control Commission would require all companies to do so.

My wife and I enjoy the outstanding local fruit and wine in the valley. We want the local farms to be productive for many years to come. That’s why we support the proposed air quality rules.

Grand Junction

Wright advances own goals,  ignores De Beque citizens

Tuesday’s editorial in The Daily Sentinel, taking Rep. Jared Wright to task for yet another grandstanding bill does not go far enough.

It seems Wright is desperate to do anything to prove his conservative credentials. Meanwhile his district continues to suffer economic woes that Wright does nothing to moderate.

On the same day that the Sentinel rewarded Wright with a front-page article on a bill, over which it is now taking him to task, there was an article about Wright’s constituents in De Beque trying to improve their economic future by attempting to bring a casino to the area.

Helping the residents of De Beque are Rep. Ray Scott and Sen. Steve King. Mentioned nowhere in the article is their actual representative, Wright. This is because Wright has told the good folks of De Beque that he does not have time to help them in their plight.

The Sentinel has chosen to ignore Wright’s snub of his own constituency, but it reinforces the main point in its editorial: Jared Wright is in Denver for Jared Wright, not for his constituents.


Greenwald is Thomas Paine of new century

One day we may look back and wonder what happened to the First Amendment in the land formerly known as America.

Glenn Greenwald is the Thomas Paine of the 21st century.

Little people all over the world should stand in solidarity for freedom of the press and with this journalist as the Obama administration and people such as Mike Rogers and Diane Feinstein make a mockery of our Bill of Rights.


President likely to extend employer health care mandate

In the near term the widespread anxiety of 57 percent of the American public will become more of a reality. They remember the good times when they, along with 80 percent of other Americans, had insurance and liked their policies.

They are now asking why the Democrats and President Barack Obama tore up the entire health care system just to fix the problems for the other 20 percent. Now we are learning that even after the AFC is fully implemented, who knows when, we are going to have about the same number of people uninsured.

Current heath premiums are skyrocketing; we are incurring huge administrative expenses; and, according to the Congressional Budget Office, more than 2.3 million future full-time jobs will be lost. What a disaster.

I think the ACA is on the road of no return. Every day we dig the hole bigger for a program that is fundamentally flawed. The near-term problems that will surface are the lack of security on the website and the hiring of navigators without background checks. Both are invitations for identity theft. This breach will happen “not if, but when.”

I am guessing that the employer mandate will be extended. With the previous bad news about the ACA, the Democrats can’t handle the political heat from the publicity of millions of people, currently insured by employers’ policies, being canceled in October 2014.

While the Republicans will have fits, Obama can extend the deadline with the stroke of a pen. If he does something unconstitutional or unethical, a court ruling will not come out until after the November 2014 election. So, what does Obama have to lose? He needs to keep control of the Senate for the last two years of his term.


Grand Junction


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