Email letters, May 5, 2014
Small businesses suffer from increased taxes and regulation
During the past five years the gap between the rich and the poor has widened. The irony is the president and his party’s efforts to “spread wealth” have had the opposite effect. The rich have been getting richer.
Why are big corporations and the affluent doing so well while the young and poor are suffering? The answer begins by understanding that the Federal Reserve has needed to prop up our financial system since its near collapse in 2008. It did that by printing money. Usually that kind of support is not needed for so long. The low interest rates have facilitated growth in government and the explosion in our national debt. Government is hooked on these low interest rates. The withdrawal will be painful.
Big corporations have also benefited from this Federal Reserve stimulus and low interest rates. Those being hurt are small businesses. They suffer from increased taxes and regulations, the worse being related to Obamacare. Big corporations self-insure their employee health insurance plans and have the teams of accountants and lawyers needed to navigate the taxation and regulation swamps. They can afford to hire the best and brightest and are way too smart for the lumbering government beast.
Small companies generally create about 85 percent of all new jobs. Given the uncertainty created by this administration and the increase in taxes and regulations, it hasn’t happened. This is the missing link.
Growth in jobs will take supporting growth in small business, and that requires lower taxes and much less regulation. Until we get that kind of governance, the disadvantaged in our country will suffer.
Enchanting, educational tour taught need to protect grouse
I really enjoyed reading the Sentinel’s recent front-page coverage of the greater sage-grouse tours led by Conservation Colorado, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and others up in Craig. I had the chance to attend one of the tours with fellow members of the Great Old Broads for Wilderness chapter based here in Grand Junction, and I was amazed to witness the annual dance of nature. It’s the largest lek – mating grounds – in the state known by man to exist for at least 100 years, though likely much longer.
In the morning darkness we too trudged on frozen ruts up to the trailer/blind with faint sounds of burbling, bubbling grouse calling in the background. A coyote yipped briefly. When the shutters lifted in the pre-dawn light, there in the distance was a spectacle of about 100 male sage-grouse with chests puffed up and tail feathers fanned in a circle of spikes, vying for the attention of some 20 females.
As the morning light intensified and turned the hills golden, several yearling antelope wandered down to play among the grouse. Two sparred and butted heads, another mischievously chased a grouse to flight. On the drive back to town we saw pockets of prong-horned antelope on the hillsides, mule deer, elk, cotton-tails and jackrabbits in the sagebrush, raptors perched in old cottonwoods, and even a few Sandhill Cranes. It was a “sagebrush safari,” indeed!
It was a well-organized, fun, informative trip that helped me understand the importance of protecting the bird and their habitat. We need to conserve our wild, natural areas. From the robust wildlife and the well-run tour to the enthusiastic hospitality of the Craig Chamber of Commerce and local hoteliers, this trip was a unique and worthwhile experience.
Voiding 60 energy leases would be disastrous
Having spent most of my life in eastern Utah and western Colorado, I’ve lived through my share of energy boom-and-bust cycles, and I can tell you that energy busts are 100 percent human-caused disasters. The plan to void 60 energy leases in Western Colorado is a looming BLM-caused disaster. Hundreds from Mesa and other affected counties gathered Thursday in De Beque to protest the move by the BLM to illegally void existing contracts with private individuals and companies.
The meeting in De Beque was not originally planned by the BLM, and those whose jobs and futures are on the line had to demand that public comments be taken outside of the elite enclaves of Aspen, Carbondale and the Roaring Fork Valley. Like the confrontation in Nevada between the Bundy family and the BLM, the “leases controversy” highlights both the overreach and the incompetence of a government bureaucracy. Unlike the Bundy ranch saga, the De Beque meeting was about the BLM breaking the law.
The producing wells within the 60 leased patches have been compliant with no major environmental incidents. Those who oppose the leases do so largely on the basis of popular anti-fracking mythology. Beyond the staggering hypocrisy is the fact that those who oppose fracking and directional drilling —which leave a relatively small surface footprint — are proponents of the “renewables;” ground-sterilizing, bird-singeing solar arrays, and eagle-whacking, bat-bludgeoning, forest-razing, migration-interrupting wind turbines.
Most folks would accept energy development — if it is reasonable
Describing the debate around energy in adversarial, pro-and-con terms is unnecessarily inflammatory, while perpetuating damaging divisions in society and abetting industry’s interest in obscuring the real issues from the public. That we all require and use energy in the modern world is not in dispute. Neither does anyone wish to keep people from making their livings.
Further, I believe that most folks would accept energy development as long as it is reasonable and not infringing on other highly regarded values in our culture. Unfortunately, for decades, industry has been utterly unyielding and unwilling to compromise when efforts to protect those values are made by reasonable citizens wishing to maintain their quality of life.
Examples of this include industry’s recent high gear shift into a media blitz designed to make their practices more palatable to an impressionable public. This has not happened in a vacuum and has occurred precisely as a result of recent efforts to regulate drilling, fracking and transport. The
sad truth is that a long and ongoing string of horrific oil and gas accidents in recent years absolutely demands stronger regulation and enforcement. It is not acceptable for things to go on as they are.
I believe what people want is very simple:
1) 100 percent transparency from resource extractors on all of their processes from start to finish, including full and complete public disclosure of all materials used in their process. Period. No exceptions,
2) Posting of meaningful and adequate bonds prior to permitting of any such activity anywhere in the state with regular reappraisal of the adequacy of said bonding,
3) Swift and severe penalties for any pollution of any kind as a result of extractive activities on public or private lands with a permanent moratorium on any further permitting to any offending company. In short, this is a “Fail once and you’re done—Zero tolerance for polluting approach.” Period. No exceptions.
4) A meaningful increase in severance fees,
5) Common sense approaches to drilling near schools, homes, water supplies
and other critical infrastructure, and
6) A common-sense approach to placing permanent moratoria on drilling in special places, for example food production regions, watersheds, areas with active aquifers, beautiful landscapes, critical wildlife habitat or corridors etc.
If industry would publicly acknowledge, regularly demonstrate and maintain an adherence to these principles, a vast majority of the citizenry would accept their activities. In truth, everyone is pro-energy and everyone wants people to be able earn their livings. There is no reason whatsoever why all these ends cannot be met.
MITCHELL GERSHTEN MD
It is unwise to trust Tipton’s concern about genetically modified foods
I just received an email from Republican Congressman Scott Tipton regarding GMO foods, labeling and pending federal legislation. As a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, your Republican congressman is in the position to be a driving force in consumer labeling of genetically engineered foods and other important health issues of our food supply, such as pesticides, etc.
Yet the email from Tipton was nothing more than a wheelbarrow full of manure to placate my concerns over GMO foods and the cancer these foods are causing. Obviously, Tipton is in the tank for Monsanto, and if you are active in the non-GMO movement, Tipton cannot be trusted no matter what he states in an email.
If you are a Republican, do what I did years ago; reregister as an independent voter and free yourselves from the 21st century mercantilism of the Republican Party.
CARL L. MCWILLIAMS
Energy workers showed class at BLM meeting in De Beque
Thank you to our Mesa County commissioners who pointed out to the Bureau of Land Managment that even though the majority of the 65 existing oil and gas leases under review in the White River National Forest are in Mesa County, all of the public meetings were scheduled in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Aspen.
To be fair, I also thank the BLM staff for acknowledging and correcting this error by scheduling a fourth meeting in De Beque a few weeks later.
And what a meeting it was!
As someone whose husband and brother both work in the energy industry, I was touched by the amazing show of support by the hundreds of people who came to offer their testimony, ask questions or simply provide the occasional applause or tip of the hat. Members of the private and public sector,
elected officials, friends and family all came together for one common goal — to show our support for the industry that supports so many Colorado families like mine.
Lastly, I want to say thank-you to all of those who attended for the way they represented themselves and the industry. I am sure that some would like to stereotype the hard-working people associated with the energy industry in a less-than-positive light, but last night you showed that we are caring,
thoughtful, intelligent and respectful (even to those with differing opinions).
As I left that meeting in De Beque surrounded by pristine views and great people and with my husband and children at my side, I was not just proud of our “community,” I felt blessed by it.
BLM meeting in De Beque was better than one in Glenwood Springs
I attended the Bureau of Land Management Environmental Impact Statement meeting in Glenwood Springs, as well as the one in De Beque. Both meetings focused on the 65 oil and gas leases that are up for cancellation by the Bureau of Land Management.
The turnout in De Beque was considerably larger than that of the Glenwood Springs meeting and, from reports I’ve heard, bigger than all three previous meetings combined.
The crowd in De Beque seemed knowledgeable on facts and presented logical information on the processes, the industry and the environmental impacts the energy industry has on the land in our area. They also spoke on how the energy industry is considerate of environmental concerns and wants to return the land to its original state once it is done.
I was glad to see that individuals who spoke were more respectful to the BLM officers than what I saw at the Glenwood Springs meeting. There was less finger-pointing and far less rhetoric than what I witnessed in Glenwood Springs.
In addition, it appears that the industry and its supporters seem to be more than willing to work to find a middle ground on a regular basis, while the supporters of the Thompson Divide Coalition seem to want things to only go their way, which is to not have the oil and gas industry in “their backyard.” Or their “front yard” either, as one Pitkin County resident testified.
De Beque meeting gave BLM chance to see flip side of coin
When the Bureau of Land Management first scheduled its open-house meetings only in Aspen, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, when the majority of the leases were held in Mesa County, I was outraged. I was happy to see the BLM make the correction and allow the people of Mesa County a voice in an issue and topic that has the potential to impact use greatly.
At the meeting I was pleased to see the attendance and support that came out to participate in this open house. I felt like it was a great atmosphere for those in the BLM to see another side to the coin than they had seen in the meetings that were held in the Roaring Fork area.
Form my view, the portion of the meeting devoted to questions and comments went really well. All that were able to get up and speak did so in a respectful and direct manner.
In my opinion, the overall view from the night was that the cancelation of leases is unethical and would have a detrimental effect on our local and surrounding economies. This issue is over a minor procedural flaw for which the BLM has taken responsibility. I just ask that this mistake does not make victims of these lease holders.
Public is protesting federal over-reach in western states
“Lois Dunn, a Grand Valley real estate agent, said that in viewing the matter from a property-rights perspective, she’s “astonished’ that the BLM could consider not honoring companies’ leases.”
“To think that we can ignore that (property right) is beyond belief,” she is also quoted as saying in an energy/Bureau of Land Management story that ran in the Sentinel Friday.
Really? Well, perhaps if the BLM had set up a free-speech zone in Collbran where Dunn and the other attendees at the De Beque meeting could have gone to make their voices heard, or perhaps if when they had walked into the meeting in De Beque they had been met by hundreds of BLM armed gun thugs and their terrible dogs of war, or maybe if the parking lot outside that De Beque building had been full of BLM swat teams and armored assault vehicles, then maybe they wouldn’t have been so “astonished” that a federal agency (out of control) would overreach to trample on private property rights.
Could it be that if Dunn removed her “real estate agent” hat and put on her chairman-of-the-Mesa-County-Republican-Party hearing aids, she might be aware of the public outcry and outrage that has been rising from the great unwashed as a result of the recent actions of overreach and abuse emanating
from the BLM all over the western states.
Hopefully, Dunn will notice that her astonishment along with her opinion has been duly recorded and then ignored by the BLM. And the best that we could hope for is that it might occur to Dunn that the only thing that stands between her and the BLM jackboots ignoring private property-rights and then moving on to the next phase (seizing private property) is the United States Constitution and the election of a constitutional conservative sheriff in Mesa County who has the will to preserve, protect and defend not only the Constitution but the common people — those of us who do not wear the trappings (hats of power) against the zealous overreach and abuse of a federal government out of control.
What will be Dunn’s stand in the Mesa County sheriff’s race? Will she support Steve King, who has proven himself to be the enabler to the overreach by the feds? The sponsor of legislation that vastly expands the law enforcement powers of federal agencies, where there was none, in Colorado? Or will Dunn use the weight of her good office to support the people’s choice (and, oh, by the way, the majority choice of Republican delegates at the recent GOP assembly), John Pennington?
Now that Dunn has revealed her astonished epiphany and recognition of the flagrant abuse of power by the feds right here in her own backyard (within her reach), will she recognize and support the election of a strong, constitutional, conservative, Republican sheriff as a check and balance against the overreach of an armed federal bureaucracy whose only limitations (at this point in time) would appear to be its own sense of self-restraint?
Ad on Keystone XL pipeline seems fishy
An ad currently appeared on Denver television (e.g. Channel 9, morning news, Saturday) in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline. The ad ends by saying that both Sens. Mark Udall and Mike Bennet approve the pipeline.
If so, why did Udall join Al Gore, Harry Reid and four other Democratic senators on Feb. 19 at the posh residence of billionaire Tom Steyer, a vocal opponent of the pipeline, and why did Udall vote against the pipeline in a test vote offered as a budget amendment last year? (See: Phil Kerpen, USA Today, April 26).
Methinks something smells about this current ad, and it isn’t the smell of crude oil.
Grant’s column brings up memory of Bellar’s quote
When Bill Grant writes about the grand expanse and perfection of Obamacare, I am reminded of the quote from a Dr. Barbara Bellar:
We’re going to be gifted with a health care plan we are forced to purchase and fined if we don’t, which purportedly covers at least 10 million more people without adding a single new doctor, but provides for 16,000 new IRS agents written by a committee whose chairman says he doesn’t understand it, passed by a Congress that didn’t read it, but exempted themselves from it, and signed by a president who smokes … with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn’t pay his taxes, for which we will be taxed for four years before any benefits take effect by the government, which has already bankrupted Social Security and Medicare — all to be overseen by a Surgeon General who is obese, and financed by a country that’s broke.”
Changing monument to park is bad idea, unsupported by many
After reading The Daily Sentinel’s editorial of April 29, I continue to be amazed at the naivete of this paper and that small select group of supporters who want to change the Colorado National Monument to a national park. They keep bringing out the same old arguments about increasing tourism (questionable), unchanging air quality standards (these can be rewritten any time by the EPA), traffic concerns (our bicyclists have real concerns about regulations), etc.
The paper tries to dispel locals’ fears about increasing federal controls that would result from the change. After what has been happening in Nevada and Texas, can you blame our citizens for not liking the idea of more federal intrusion into our lives from such a change?
It is true that parks and monuments operate under the same rules, but parks are the crown jewels and more attention is paid to them. They are currently being used by the environmental movement (through the EPA and other organizations) to control the areas that surround them, bringing undesirable
and unnecessary changes to communities and people’s lives.
My friends and I have spent a lot of time getting petitions signed in the Grand Junction area, opposing the change to park status. Most of the signers are happy with the current status of the monument and feel nothing is broken, so why “fix” it? But, we’ve heard reports from former Park Service employees, residents of Glade Park, visitors to national parks elsewhere and those living outside national park areas tell a far different story from what our local media do. They include intimidation, over-regulation, unfriendliness, etc.
The federal government is intruding more and more into our daily lives. Our country was founded originally to limit this. Organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency have no business even existing in the USA. When will people open their eyes and see what is happening to our lives and basic freedoms?
Let Udall and Tipton and The Daily Sentinel know that changing our monument to a national park is a bad idea from start to finish.
Despite Dr. Pramenko’s latest column, ACA is still bad legislation
With his latest effort, Dr. Michael Pramenko wishes Republicans would “declare victory on health reform.” He’s right, quite possibly for the first time, when he says, that they won’t.
Yes, Republicans do not wish to “fix” the un-ACA for the other side – that would make Republicans even more moronic than they have been on so many levels. If the tables were turned – which I know they aren’t – would Pramenko be asking the Democrats to “declare victory”?
Pramenko is starting to sound much like a broken record, saying the same things over and over. If the un-ACA was, in fact, working as designed, he’d have no stump from which to whine. Therein lies the proof that it is not as advertised.
He has been writing, trying to cajole those of us who see it for what it is, to just accept it. That’s not likely to happen any time soon. There is an old saying,“You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear,” or words to that effect. It has been a long time since my mother said that to me because I was whining over something not going my way. I’m older now, by quite a bit, and I have learned that someone saying it is so, doesn’t make it so. I make up my own mind.
Once again, the initial claim for the un-ACA was that there were “45 million Americans without health insurance.” Pramenko and Bill Hugenberg continue to spout numbers out like adding machines, and never can get near the sum of 45 million.
It is going on four years now, since ACA was passed in the dead of night, and without a single Republican vote, and the 45 million that the president stated were without insurance, and we had to “do something” – and he isn’t even close. That’s according to numbers supplied by not only you, but by Hugenberg.
Add to that, both he and you are quoting different numbers, and neither of you have proof of payment. The president’s paid obfuscator (Jay Carney) says: “We don’t have the numbers, but we dispute them.” Now, that is Democrat-speak for: “Hey – I’m just paid to lie – I don’t know anything.”
Those of us who are paying attention have asked questions about why selling over state lines wouldn’t help. It is never considered for an answer. We ask: Why should the un-ACA require birth-control, and abortion-inducing drugs free of charge, when they are against the teachings of religious institutions? No answers.
Nearly everyone associated with the passage and rollout of the un-ACA, boosts what they consider pros, and avoids any perceived cons. That’s not what the president purported his chief piece of legislation to be. It has turned out to be yet another lie…
DAVID F. ZULIAN
Despite detractors, ACA showing strong results
Dr. Michael Pramenko’s column – “Republicans should declare victory on health reform, but they won’t” – sardonically laments the tragi-comic inconsistency of Republicans’ refusal to take credit for their own “market-based” approach to reforming “our broken health care system.”
On Oct. 1, 1989, with health care costs consuming 11% of our GNP, the Ronald-Reagan-revering Heritage Foundation first advocated the “individual mandate” in a lecture entitled “Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans”.
That proposal was then refined to incorporate insurance exchanges (on which private insurers could compete for business), and premium subsidies (to make those premiums even more affordable).
In 2006, these features were successfully implemented by Republican Governor Mitt Romney in Massachusetts (“RomneyCare”), and were endorsed by both Club 20 and Colorado’s Republican Governor Bill Owens’ Blue Ribbon Commission in 2008.
By 2008, health care costs consumed 16 percent of our GDP (the highest of any industrialized nation), health insurance premiums were rising at double-digit annual rates, the health insurance industry was rife with coverage-denial abuses, and middle-class Americans faced the specter of bankruptcy due to uninsured medical expenses.
While “liberals” favored the “public option,” on Aug. 15, 2009, in Grand Junction, President Obama embraced the “conservative” alternative – seeking to gain bipartisan support for health care reform while avoiding disruption of some 1300 private insurers and their 500,000 employees, when the economy was emerging from near-Depression.
Had Nancy Pelosi named it the “Ronald Reagan Memorial Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act” (“ReaganCare”), “red state” Republicans might have supported it – rather than wage an incessantly dishonest disinformation campaign against it.
Nevertheless, today, at least 7.5 million have obtained qualifying insurance through federal or state exchanges, 6+ million through Medicaid/CHIP expansion, 1+ million “under26ers” remain covered on parents’ policies, and some 8.2 million have obtained qualifying coverage directly from insurers or through brokers.
Phillips’ run and Manzanares’ run for public office should be covered
I am writing to express my continued frustration with the Sentinel’s editorial policy regarding political races. The most recent oversight came when Benita Phillips announced that she is running as a write-in candidate for Mesa County sheriff.
I did not see even one mention of her announcement in your pages. Is that because nobody read the press release? Or maybe you decided that no woman could possibly be a serious candidate for sheriff? Or maybe you decided that a registered nurse who wants a county as a patient is just too extreme for
the delicate eyes of your readers?
Likewise, I’ve never seen any reporting on the candidacy of Jennifer Manzanares, running for county clerk and recorder.
How do you expect the voters of Mesa County to make informed decisions with their precious votes if you never inform them of the wide array of choices that they have?
It is time to revisit your editorial policies so that you are performing a real service to the community, instead of pandering to the status quo.
CLAUDETTE J. KONOLA
Candidate for Colorado Senate District 7
BLM urged not to cancel any of the natural gas leases
Last Thursday night the executive director of the Thompson Divide Coalition advocated that other leases in Western Colorado are OK but that all the leases in their backyard should be canceled.
This is just the kind of hypocrisy that hundreds of us gathered in De Beque on Thursday night to fight. And so to the BLM: Don’t cancel even one of Western Colorado’s natural gas leases.