Email letters, January 14, 2014

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Alfonso Salazar’s timely letter – “Scott seems unaware of West’s foul air – should strike a responsive chord with Sentinel readers.

House District 55’s Representative (and would-be District 7’s Senator) Ray Scott’s latest piece of incumbent campaign literature (“Western Slope residents must fight state Air Quality Control Commission”) – published gratis as a “guest column” by the Sentinel—  affords ample insight into the contrast between Republican Scott and his Democratic challenger, nationally-recognized economic development expert Claudette Konola.

In 1950, Grand Junction’s municipal population was only 14, 504 – compared to an estimated 59,899 in 2012 (a 413% increase).  Similarly, Mesa County’s population in 1950 was 38,794 – compared to 147,848 in 2012 (a 381% increase).

Nevertheless, as Asbury gas began flowing into Grand Junction in the 1950s, there were undoubtedly some local “conservatives” who stridently proclaimed that the conversion to natural gas was “destroying jobs” in the coal industry and putting local delivery services out of business, thereby increasing unemployment and threatening “small businesses”.

There were also likely some coal industry shills who looked at the darkened morning sky and insisted that “government is the problem” – even as taxpayers (presumably) funded the acquisition of rights of way and the installation of infrastructure.  At some point, local building codes (“regulations”) were enacted to insure the safety of gas delivery systems.

Meanwhile, the extractive industries proved to be “boom or bust”—and the most stable sources of local jobs became local governments and health care providers.

More recently, attracted by its cleaner air, unique geography, and medical facilities (like the local VA Medical Center), military (and other) retirees, younger entrepreneurs, and even tourists flocked to the Grand Valley—contributing to a more diversified economy and legitimate concerns about air quality and “view sheds”.

Thus, despite Scott’s belligerent tone, Mesa County’s “party status” may constructively contribute to crafting sensible rules – to effectively protect public health—rather than serve as an obstructive vehicle for “throwback” promoters of oil & gas interests (like Scott).



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