Email letters, March 10, 2014
Consider ‘devils in the details’ before going ahead with mine
Friday’s optimistic Sentinel editorial — “Promise of mine jobs worth embracing” – aptly chronicles the prospect of eventually (in five years) adding 224 high-paying jobs to our ever-diversifying economy via the proposed Book Cliff Mine project.
Consequently, every aspiring local politico should understandably endorse that prospect — even if with differing degrees of enthusiasm, given the many remaining uncertainties.
However, as the Sentinel implies – citing the Grand Junction Economic Partnership’s hopeful assessment that the project “would provide a big economic boost to the region, and present little in the way of negative impacts” (except on recreational access) – there may be “devils in the details.”
Moreover, because the Sentinel properly opines that “sooner would be better than later,” it is never too soon to consider what those minimal “negative impacts” might be.
Thus, while the mine will be far below the leased area, some surface disturbance is unavoidable – with truck and/or rail traffic raising clouds of dust that could increase the concentration of particulates already in the Grand Valley’s air-shed (particularly during ever-more-frequent inversions), and could (at least temporarily) exacerbate local non-attainment of air quality standards and accelerate the imposition of mandatory compliance measures under the Clean Air Act and/or Colorado’s recently adopted stricter air pollution regulations.
Likewise, dust clouds could impair the statutorily protected view-sheds of the Colorado National Monument and/or the quality of Colorado River water.
Similarly, just as the oil and gas industry is now required to capture 95 percent of its emitted methane, so too should the mine be subject to similar permit conditions – since methane emissions are inherent in coal mining.
Finally, consistent with the Sentinel’s (and President Obama’s) advocacy of “an all of the above strategy,” scoping might also consider the feasibility of co-locating a solar and/or wind turbine “farm” on the surface above the mine.
Proposed coal mine would take toll on precious land and air
The proposed lease for more than 20 square miles of public lands in the scenic area of the Bookcliffs near Fruita for the Book Cliff Mine has many pieces that are destructive to our public land, air and wildlife.
The land the Bureau of Land Management is considering leasing to Book Cliff Mine is an area underlining the proposed Hunter Canyon Citizens Proposed Wilderness area. This land is proposed for wilderness, not only for its vast beauty, but it is a winter range for elk and mule deer. The area is also a place for world-class mountain biking, hiking, bird-watching and nature photography.
It is land that should be respected, not manipulated by a coal mine.
A coal mine would not only disrupt the land it would be on, but also the air on that land and the air in the Grand Valley. The coal would have to be transported to a place of sale. Such transport would also add to our air pollution and inversions.
The road from the proposed mine to a main transportation road would also bisect a river. Keeping water safe is also a major concern for residents of this fine Colorado valley.
ur valley already has problems with inversion. It has become so bad that some people, for health reasons, can’t go outside during an inversion or have to wear a gas-mask contraption.
In addition, the greenhouse pollution of uncontrolled methane venting, which would be created by the proposed mine, would increase Colorado’s gas emissions, equivalent to the annual carbon dioxide emissions of a new, coal-fired power plant.
Please reconsider allowing the Book Cliff Mine.
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers to rendezvous in Denver
Ten years ago a group of seven hunters and anglers, standing around a fire in U.S. Army veteran Mike Beagle’s backyard, set into motion a series of events that would lead to the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, The Sportsman’s Voice for Our Wild Public Lands, Waters and Wildlife (http://www.backcountryhunters.org). This year marks BHA’s 10th anniversary, which we’ll celebrate in Denver during our annual BHA North American Rendezvous March 21-23.
From that original “gang of seven,” BHA has grown to have members in all 50 states and 15 official state chapters. But BHA’s first official chapter, the Colorado Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, was formed by a Marine Corps veteran, David “Elkheart” Petersen (author of “A Man Made of Elk”). Since then, the title of Colorado BHA chairman has been passed on to me, a former Air Force missile-launch officer.
In Denver we’ll celebrate our successes, take stock of our losses and strategize on how to protect and perpetuate wildlands and wildlife for future generations of hunters and anglers and others.
So far we have well over 100 registered guests, 16 vendors (and counting!) and a growing roster of special guests including: Colorado Parks and Wildlife Director Bob Broscheid (Friday evening), Rep. Scott Tipton Saturday morning and Sen. Mark Udall Saturday evening.
America’s greatest hunter-conservationist (and Medal of Honor winner) Theodore Roosevelt, said, “Conservation is a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of ensuring the safety and continuance of the nation.” Join us at the rendezvous and help us pass on America’s hunting-angling traditions to future generations.
A rundown of event happenings, tickets, schedule, etc. is at: http://www.backcountryhunters.org/index.php/rendezvous-general
And you can invite folks through our Facebook page:
See you in Denver!
DAVID A. LIEN
Chairman, Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
Rose Pugliese’s column failed to mention BMX track decision
As I read Rose Pugliese’s Daily Sentinel column Sunday about the county commissioners promoting economic development, I hoped to find out why so much money is being poured into a BMX track at the fairgrounds. Ever since I saw the story about a BMX track, I have been wondering, “What are these people thinking?”
I was disappointed. Pugliese wrote only about the county paying about $7,000 for advertising in an airline magazine, but failed to mention why the county was pouring $1.2 million into the track.
I had to look up BMX; it means bicycle motocross. I’m sure some people think BMX is great and hunger to watch it. That’s fine, but how is this going to make Mesa County an economic success? The Sentinel reported it may attract Olympic trials for BMX racing. Note the word “may.” Will BMX racing even remain an Olympic sport in the future?
Have the commissioners done economic analysis on the return on investment? Have the commissioners surveyed residents to know how many will attend BMX events? How many tourists will come to see this? How much will they spend here? The commissioners belong to a party that campaigns on their use of private business management skills. Have they used them here? Where is the analysis? If private enterprise won’t build it, why should the county?
Some months ago the commissioners refused to spend $17,000 on the Riverfront Commission, claiming the county couldn’t afford it. The BMX track will cost more than 70 times more. Will 70 times more county residents use the BMX track than the riverfront trails?
The county plans to spend, in total, $5 million on the fairgrounds, including an RV park that will not be used most of the time. This is a fine opportunity for investigative reporting.
Grand Junction area would be better served by a shared vision
I’d like to applaud the county for taking the initiative to help promote local businesses and attractions by seeding an advertorial supplement to an in-flight magazine. The outlay appears reasonable and, by being the lead investor, the county may help attract more businesses to participate — increasing the visibility and impact of the content.
But as a former marketing agency owner, I must point out that this effort must be part of a strategic marketing effort beyond one feature in one magazine on one airline. The area would be well-served by closer coordination and funding that is driven by a shared vision, and not by who has the best advertising sales people and the ear of community leaders.
And as for shining on spotlight on Mesa County year-round to many audiences worldwide, perhaps the greatest bang for the buck would be lifting the paywall that blocks non-subscribers from viewing much of the Sentinel’s content, including Commissioner Pugliese’s column lauding the county initiative.
Pot sales may hike revenues but extract societal costs
It would certainly be more accurate when reporting all of the attractive tax money from the sale of legalized pot to at least touch on the true costs involved, as well. Of course, it is more difficult to add up things such as the cost of prosecution, including all the manpower from law enforcement, just to figure out the aspects of the law itself.
Then you would need to deduct how much pot is bought with state aid. Not directly because we understand food stamps can not be used to buy the pot. How easy is that rule to get around?
And how would you add up the cost to taxpayers for drug rehab? Certainly a drug addict needing rehab wouldn’t be employed or have a savings to pay for that. Further, it would be an advantage for our local paper not to glamorize any so-called positive aspects like money garnered from the sale of pot
because clearly there are not any. Those overstated dollar amounts make all of Colorado look like a bunch of potheads, and we are not.
The true irony of the passing of this law is that those same people who voted it in are the same ones who are very glad that federal law still prohibits pot usage by people who affect their personal safety, such as airline pilots, surgeons or school-bus drivers.
Truth is that, just like alcohol, it ends up costing innocent people more than money. It has and will continue to cost lives, and one cannot assign a dollar figure to that. There is nothing to be gained from the legalized sale of pot.