Email letters, July 24, 2013
Nitrogen tetroxide a toxic fracking fluid
It is interesting that N2O4, nitrogen tetroxide, is not listed as a toxic fracking fluid despite being patented in 1974 by Getty Oil Co. Number 3929192 for oil and gas drilling. This powerful oxidizer was a propellant for the Titan ll intercontinental ballistic missile.
Please notify the U.S. Environment Protection Agency, which is the source of your article.
Chamber plays capitalistic hardball
Rick Brainard, one of the “chambermades,” is now history as a city councilor. People shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that it is still the Chamber of Commerce’s objective to pack the council as part of its ongoing war with the people of the city.
The chamber represents some of the local merchants who believe their customers are the enemy in their quest for a ”business friendly” community. That means minimal laws, regulations and taxes and sometimes even special tax breaks. That must mean that, if successful, businesses will be more profitable. Why else would they care?
The things that they want will unarguably cut down on their expenses. But does that automatically mean more profitability? A business is successful when acceptable profit is realized after paying all expenses, including whatever taxes have been levied. Its customers pay prices sufficient to cover all expenses and whatever profit remains. You pay their taxes and their other expenses, including the cost of the people needed to abide by laws and regulations, in the prices you pay. So, does their quest for lower expenses and taxes mean they are seeking their savings to be passed on to you, their customer? Guess again.
The local chamber is not evil but it is playing capitalistic hardball. That is not illegal, either. But most chambers of commerce around the country consider that they are partners with their customers in seeking a better community. Political activity, such as packing local government to gain favoritism particularly for their members is generally considered acknowledgement that customers’ and merchants’ interests are in opposition.
Locally, the chamber feels that the merchants’ interests it represents come first and are more important than the health and quality of life of their customers. That is not the objective of most chambers around the country.
Brainard may have taken ‘stand your ground’ law too seriously
After reading Rick Brainard’s comments surrounding his resignation, it does not appear that the anger management classes really worked.
Nonetheless while I am empathetic with his attempt to get redemption from the public, I will never be sympathetic with anyone who strikes a woman. Perhaps he took the “stand your ground” law too literally!
Nation may reap benefits of fracking, but Mesa County may feel its health effects
Because the Sentinel did not print my July 16 letter – “Boosters of exporting liquified natural gas should consider environmental costs” – side by side with Courtney Loper’s industry-financed response (“Hydraulic fracking can indeed be conducted in a safe manner”), further comment is required.
First, I made no false claims – but raised issues which the industry finds inconvenient. Thus, even if arguendo “fracking can be conducted in a safe manner,” the real question is whether it will be safely conducted in Mesa County.
Second, if “fracking” is indeed as “safe” as the industry insists, there is no justification to continue exempting it from provisions of the Safe Drinking Water and Clean Water Acts.
Third, I did not claim that drilling and/or fracking “operations are unregulated” – only that they are dubiously exempt from some provisions of law – and questioned whether current regulations are adequate to cope with another drilling/fracking “boom.”
Fourth, even if “fracking” is “safer” than critics contend, that “fact” further diminishes any justification for its continued exemption from environmental laws intended to protect public health, and implies that the “costs of compliance” are not nearly so onerous as the industry duplicitously maintains.
Fifth, even if the Obama administration has concluded that — overall — the economic benefits to the nation at-large of promoting increased natural gas production justify whatever uncertain health risks that can legitimately be attributed to “fracking,” those risks will be localized to Mesa County – threatening its water supply and airshed.
Sixth, the benign “fracking fluid” swallowed by Gov. Hickenlooper was not the cocktail of toxic proprietary fluids and diesel fuel used in Colorado – but could be.
Seventh, as Loper impliedly admits, the industry can use “best available technology” to reduce “fugitive methane” that will exacerbate the adverse health effects of local inversions.
Eighth, taxpayers pay clean-up costs for abandoned wells if cement casings eventually fail.
Shutting down fracking will impact quality of life
The efforts to convince us that our economy is “just fine” or “picking up” (or would be if we were just willing to share a little more of the burden with increased taxes) are ongoing and overwhelming.
On closer inspection, though, business’ report decreased sales tax revenue is down as is property tax valuation. The EPA has instituted 6,000 new rules since 2012, further adding to our regulatory burdens.
Thus, the determined effort to close down energy development in the name of “responsible” development, along with scary stories about fracking and other evils should be questioned. It is a well-known economic fact that a vibrant economy consists of workers spending their wages, buying homes and sending their children to our schools.
Additional benefits in western Colorado have come directly from energy in the form of direct payments to local governments and schools from energy profit on public lands. Much of western Colorado is federal land, and these benefits are, by law, shared locally. Thus we have PILT (Payment in Lieu) funds and Secure Rural Schools funds which flow to counties and schools. These can be very significant ($800,000 to District 51 a year ago).
In 2012, however, the feds deducted $1.6 million from the 2011 payment. Secure Rural Schools funds also received a deduction of 6 percent for sequestration. School Trust Lands, instituted by the federal government in 1787 to build a trust for the benefit of school children, have had their equity captured, as well, notably in the closing of the Vermillion, while coal revenues have declined by $13 million.
Adding insult to injury is the argument that global warming is responsible for our forest fires. Forests are indeed tinderboxes waiting for a match, but it is primarily because they have been closed to logging’s clearing effects and roadless rules that keep treatment away from beetle kill. There has been no appreciable warming in the past 10 years and three of the hottest 10 years in the past 100 were in the 1930s.
As a lifelong resident of Colorado with my entire adult life spent in Mesa County, I remember oil well rigs, slag heaps and sump ponds. It is a far different picture today, but, to listen to the environmentalists, you would not know this. It is gross misunderstanding of economics to believe that you can shut down this vital industry and still enjoy the quality of life that drew us to this area.
Colorado State Board of Education
3rd Congressional district
Brainard resignation does not mean an end to city soap opera
Rick Brainard resigned from City Council! No need to pick up a recall petition to circulate. Too bad he had to express his “poor me, I was picked on” sentiments in his email to Rich Englehart. A convicted abuser is no longer “representing” the city. But, contrary to the editorial, the soap opera is not over.
I want to thank the businesses who have canceled their membership or who never joined the rogue Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, backer of Brainard. Charles Ashby mentioned some of these businesses in the article in the Sunday paper. I hope more will join them.
As a former business owner in another community, I know it can be hard to go against the grain and take a stand on principle by not belonging. The local chamber seems little concerned with the small business owners, nor the environmentally oriented ones. They do not seem to care about protecting our air quality or promoting a healthy livable city.
In my mind it has long been “The Chamber of Oil and Gas.” I will make a point of taking as much of my business as possible to those who do not belong. The Western Colorado Latino Chamber sounds like a worthy organization, and I will support their members.
The soap opera will continue when it comes to filling the posts left by Brainard and the loss of Harry Butler. We do not need any more “chambermades.” While it is impossible to fill a City Council seat with someone who will make everyone happy, we deserve council members who fill their posts by listening to and answering to all the citizens, not to one organization.
Spehar’s critique of chamber was ‘ugly’ and vicious
I do not know Jim Spehar, but have often read and enjoyed his columns in this paper. When he served on City Counsel and as mayor, even when not agreeing with him on a given issue, I respected his perspective and commitment to his ideals.
My feelings were altered by the nature and tone of his critique of the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce that appeared in the Sentinel July 23. His column was “ugly” and unnecessarily so.
He has every right to criticize the work of the chamber and its peripheral role in local politics. There are honorable and effective ways to opine as to fault, and then there is Spehar’s way. He touts his support of Grand Junction on many levels, and he is probably a smart man. But really, did he think he was serving his community well with what he wrote? Did he think his taunts were clever and engaging and effective?
The whole underpinning of his unseemly column was anger and a desire to draw blood — from the chamber and its executive director. Some writers do not understand that their personal motivations become evident no matter how much they try to hide them in a literary/creative disguise. In this respect, Spehar failed miserably.
It is justifiable to disagree with matters of public interest. Constructive criticism is almost always worthy. Using a bully pulpit to slam (in a vicious way) anyone/anything is not.
I might suggest that he confine his temper and outrage to the golf course or gym or to punching holes in the walls of his home, if he must. In that way Spehar will not do added harm to our community for which he professes great love and only embarrass himself appropriately.
Council’s temporary suspension of city charter an outrage
So, the City Council, intent upon the honorable goal of “stacking” the council to suit the majority’s political bent, wants to “temporarily” suspend the city charter?
Would this be OK with the citizens of Grand Junction if the temporary suspension concerned other areas such as public safety or control of the police department? What if some government functionary decided to “temporarily” suspend the U.S. Constitution to suit its goal of procuring an election?
Fellow citizens of Grand Junction, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Constitutional Party — this is an outrage. The charter was written to protect the citizens from autocratic rulers — leaders who would project their will and their wishes onto the citizens in contravention of the rules of civil society. The charter was established with specific processes to stop EXACTLY this sort of abuse by this sort of council.
I call upon every citizen of the city to do two things: Inform the council that this “temporary” suspension is not OK with us and further inform the board that if it persists with this extremely unwise course of action, its councilors will be facing a mass recall. (Remember the Patterson Road
recall a few decades ago?)
We live in a representative republic, not Sam Susuras’ private banana republic.
Mesa County not a draw for upscale employees
Here are a few random observations on recent Mesa County/Grand Junction issues:
The jail-overcrowding problem is a self-created ploy to increase spending in the face of declining tax revenue (Check your last assessed value notice; mine was down by 25 percent, hence less in property tax).
The inept courts here need to stop requiring bond for every release from jail pending a trial. To have 88 inmates in jail for misdemeanors is absurd. Release non-violent, non-recidivist arrestees O.R. just as traffic offenders are cited and released every day. Most other states do this and the FTA rate is no different than in Mesa County.
Janet Roland, former county commish and now extraction industry shill, is dead wrong on the job of county government. Recently we spent a week over in Jefferson County where there are miles of open space, beautiful parks and a first class recreation center.
The quality of life issue is subjective but in many ways Mesa County is not a draw for new businesses or upscale employees. It’s funny how Silverthorne and Breckenridge have beautiful rec centers built by the ski industry. Where is the Halliburton-Encana-Williams rec center here in Grand Junction?
The city council decision to appoint rather than hold a special election to fill the two vacancies is an arrogant disregard of the citizens’ right to elect their council member-representatives. I have no doubt the pinheaded majority will find like-minded troglodytes to join them.