Email Letters: May 10, 2017

Congressional hearings should be limited to pertinent questions

Why does it take 15 to 20 politicians to question witnesses at a Congressional hearing?

At any of these hearings you find that there are about two or three from each side who ask pertinent questions and are there to get answers while the remainder are there to make political speeches or statements and who try to make the other side look bad. I watched one senator waste all of his time, and our time, asking questions that started with “Would you suppose,” “Is it possible,” “What if,” “Could it be,” etc. trying to lead the witnesses to answer some hypothetical that will embarrass the other side. I, for one, am suffering from congressional hearing fatigue!

Why can’t the chairman and the ranking member of these committees agree that they will allow only three or four people max from each side to ask the questions submitted to them by the other members? Hearings could be reduced by hours and perhaps both sides and the public would get answers to the reason why they are there in the first place. If the Supreme Court can make the most important decisions for our country with only nine members, why can’t Congress?

L.W. HUNLEY
Grand Junction

AHCA no solution to health care coverage problems we face

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) takes a flawed approach to covering people with pre-existing conditions. It subsidizes high-risk insurance pools for them, with the intention of making premiums lower for everyone else. Unfortunately, the size of the subsidy grossly underfunds the pools.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has a great interactive map showing what the change in premium with the AHCA would be. In Mesa County, a 60 year old earning $40,000/year would have a premium of $20,050 before the AHCA tax credit. After the tax credit, the premium would be $16,050. This is a 293-percent increase over their current premium (KFF.org)

Avalere (a health care business analytic firm) reports that even if all possible AHCA funds were devoted to funding the high risk pools, only 600,000 people could be covered. About 2.2 million people in the current individual market have pre-existing conditions (avalere.com)

Check out the above resources to see how the AHCA high risk pools would affect you and your loved ones. Then call Sen. Gardner, and tell him that the AHCA is no solution to the health care coverage problems we face.

DEBORAH STETLER

Grand Junction

Urge Sen. Gardner to oppose repealing BLM Methane Rule

Last month, I traveled west from Rangely into Utah to better understand the impact of oil and gas development across state lines. One member of my group was an infrared cameraman. His camera allowed us to see and record emissions otherwise invisible.

We visited several wellhead sites, observing emissions at each site. In one case, we were surprised by a sudden, large blast of gas. The surge lasted for over three minutes. Our IR camera has been used on several Colorado sites without finding such emissions.

Living in Rio Blanco County, I am familiar with oil and gas development and its economic importance to our communities. This trip, however, proved how different the industry could be in another state. The public and tribal lands there were pockmarked with well sites, and our camera showed how polluting these sites could be. Methane is reportedly 80 times more damaging as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period.

The American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2017 Report, issued in mid-April, gave Rio Blanco County an F for ozone levels. Uintah and Duchesne Counties in Utah also received F ratings for ozone. Colorado activity in Mesa, Garfield and Rio Blanco Counties is not known to produce significant gas emissions. The natural gas and volatile organic compounds from Utah, however, mix with nitrous oxides and sunlight becoming ozone smog, some of which certainly drifts into Colorado.

All of this underscores the importance of the BLM methane rule, promulgated last November, which requires the capture of gases heretofore vented, flared or leaked. The rule is modeled after one Colorado has already adopted. The U.S. House used the Congressional Review Act in February to approve repeal of the rule. The U.S. Senate is expected to act this week.

Anticipated effects of the rule, if allowed, include increased royalty revenues for U.S. taxpayers, improved air quality and reduced health hazards. Please urge Sen. Cory Gardner to oppose repealing the rule.

REED KELLEY
Vice-president, Western Colorado Congress
Member, Club 20

Meeker

Broadband internet access will help improve local economy

There have been a number of editorial comments and columns recently about ways to improve and expand the local economy. Broad based internet access is the one that will address all sectors.

The April 10 issue of Time Magazine has a special report, “What it will take to rebuild America.” One section (pp. 34-35) is “Internet for all.” Rob Blick, a teacher in an underserved community in Appalachia, is quoted as saying about broadband “It just seems to me it’s the modern-day equivalent of the interstate highway system.” The article is pessimistic about the Trump administration’s FCC chairman Pai’s will to support the already fragmented government systems attempting to fill in where commercial interests fail consumers. This leaves many citizens and students in more rural areas without vital access to what is fast becoming a necessity for education, modern jobs, local entrepreneurship and informed governance. Comprehensive internet access has far greater potential for increasing economic development here on this side of the divide than an event center, but is probably not going to be done by any single local government entity.

It seems it is time to revisit the broadband issue and I challenge the Grand Junction City Council and the county commissioners to work with the library board, the District 51 school board, and appropriate other possible local allies, such as CMU, our legislative representatives and/or other neighboring county governing bodies, to explore a system that would benefit the entire area, and perhaps eventually be the pilot for the universal access on the entire Western Slope.

LORALEE KERR
Grand Junction


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