Email letters, May 6, 2014

BLM clerical error shouldn’t put hundreds of jobs at risk

As your article from May 2, “BLM hears pro-energy side,” made clear, there is a tremendous amount of support for the continued responsible development of the natural resources of western Colorado.

There is also a tremendous amount of support for the idea that a lease contract should be binding and that to arbitrarily renege on it is contemptible. The only reason these contracts are being revisited at all is because the BLM neglected to staple a piece of paper onto the mound of paperwork that said it accepts the U.S. Forest Service’s environmental assessment. That’s it.

The BLM could easily rectify this oversight by providing the requisite formal acceptance of the Forest Service’s environmental review – instead, it is opening up a whole new review of 65 leases, with the option of outright voiding them, on the table, and putting at risk the capital, plans and investment of a number of private businesses, not to mention the hundreds of jobs and millions in local revenue that will be lost if these leases are yanked by the federal government. Individual companies entered into the 65 leases in question in good faith. These companies – and their employees and their employees’ families – should not be left holding the bag for the BLM’s procedural error.

The message delivered in De Beque Thursday evening was that the people of the West Slope deserve a say in these decisions, and we will not lie down and accept the taking of our livelihoods.

MIKE FOSTER
Grand Junction

Sentinel keeps on hounding Wright

You people are positively childish. You are going to continue hounding Jared Wright when you are all using walkers. Every time he sneezes, you make it front-page news. Good gracious, leave the man alone. You have hounded him out of office, so you should be satisfied.

Your last headline, “Wright crossways with GOP” is inflammatory and opinionated. What happened to objective journalism? The Daily Sentinel and Charles Ashby don’t know the meaning of the term.

JANET BLACKMAN
Grand Junction

Shrinking of energy industry continues to hurt our schools

It is ironic that this discussion should take place in De Beque.  Our rather byzantine school-funding formulas result in some schools which have high property tax values receiving no funding from the state.  Aspen, Telluride, Gunnison and Lake City all fall into this category … as did De Beque (and Meeker).

Last year, thanks to shrinking energy returns, both of them fell out of that category. This was even more troublesome for them, in that they had never been subject to the dreaded “negative factor” which other schools have gradually adjusted to (not happily).  In De Beque’s case it amounted to a $2,000-per-student decrease in funding.

This is only one example of the harm that has been done to school funding by the shrinking of the energy industry.  In addition to a lower tax base, funds that flowed directly into education, such as Payments in Lieu of Taxes and school trust land income, have also been on the decline. 

Three years ago I was able to convince the entire state board to sign a letter to the Bureau of Land Management secretary protesting the closing of the Vermillion as numerous school trust lands existed there and our ability of reap profits was greatly affected.  Unsatisfactory reply … but at least we’re on record.

As the only western Colorado state board member,  I almost solely made this effort.  My fellow Republicans are supportive, but, remember, five of the present board members live on the I-25 corridor.  I care about this issue passionately.

I recently received the following endorsement from David Ludlam:  “Marcia Neal’s tireless efforts in promoting the benefits of school trust lands and the ability of these lands to generate money for schools and kids, demonstrate Marcia’s out of the box thinking when it comes to funding education.”

MARCIA NEAL
Grand Junction

Special interest groups should not drive effort to take away legally acquired leases

Last Thursday, I joined over a hundred of my fellow citizens at a Bureau of Land Management hearing in De Beque, where we told the agency to honor its commitments to oil and gas businesses who entered into lease agreements with them. That a long, drawn-out legal process is necessary to help ensure that is troubling enough.

The fact that at the end of that process the BLM may still yank these companies’ leases from them is unconscionable. Especially when you consider that the entire debacle is over nothing more than a minor paperwork error on the part of the BLM. Do we really live in a system where a business can have its legally acquired property taken because some bureaucrat forgot to check a box in some ream of paperwork?

There are some, mostly in unaffected Carbondale and Aspen, who think that canceling these leases is a great idea because drilling for and producing oil and/or natural gas is somehow terrible for the land, air, water and even human health. As a rancher and a mom, I know a thing or two about the land, the environment and healthy kids. We run our cattle and work our land in the midst of the natural gas fields south of Rifle, and we have never suffered any ill effects. The air and water on our ranch is among the cleanest in the world. The folks in the local oil and gas industry have been outstanding neighbors. They go and do their work every day, providing a necessary commodity to their fellow citizens, just as I and my husband work every day to do the same.

I, for one, feel very blessed to live in a part of the country that provides heat, electricity and food to my fellow citizens, and I am not about to stand by and let the BLM and a special interest group take that ability away from us.

CARRIE COUEY
Silt

Social Security funds raided, COLAs ‘downright pitiful’

Our government now calls Social Security an entitlement — as though “benevolent” politicians see us as a charitable cause. What they now give out in the form of cost of living adjustments is downright pitiful and insulting.

Perhaps these people in Washington D.C. have forgotten than it was an older generation that nurtured, housed, fed, clothed, prepared and cheered them on to a bright future. It seems that more than ever in our society a person’s worth is based on age.

Seniors are regarded as second-class citizens. Haven’t many of us over 65 been ignored while a young store clerk stares into space or chats with another younger person?  Haven’t many of been called “sweetie” by a waitress, which I feel is condescending.  I also believe that many in D.C. can only picture the more fortunate retired couples who can travel or own vacation condos.  

The fact is that many more retirees are just squeaking by from month to month —  no travel, no entertainment and often not even higher-quality grocery items. The bottom line is this: During our working years we turned over a substantial portion of our  wages or salaries to the feds for retirement. The criminal part of the story is that they spent it.  

Literally thousands of government-funded programs could and should be cut to boost Social Security —  so many things that the government has no business doing with our tax dollars. Of course, there never was a separate and secured Social Security fund, but we were misled to believe that we could count on the word of politicians.  

Here is a reality check for the young who will someday face this situation: My monthly COLA for 2014 was exactly $9.95 — not even enough to buy a pack of hearing-aid batteries.  Of course, the newest insult is this administration’s health-care bill which also shows that we are unworthy of existence.  

CAROL K. ABBOTT

Parachute

Good politics for billionaires mean jail time for average voters

Let me understand. If I offer my local legislator $5,000 to vote the way I wanted to on a bill, I go to jail. If a billionaire offers the Dems $100 million if they vote against the Keystone Pipeline, that’s good politics. Go figure!

L.W. HUNLEY
Grand Junction

Story on ill effects of fracking, legal verdict merited coverage

The Daily Sentinel has conspicuously omitted coverage of a recent legal case in which members of a Texas ranching family won a $2.95 million civil judgement against Aruba Petroleum for ruining their health by fracking around their home.

Evidence presented in the case was meticulously collected and well-documented, and it drew a clear line from drilling and fracking operations within several miles of their home to the onset of severe illnesses in an otherwise heathy mother, father and 6-year-old, to the point that their family physician said they had to move out of their home or risk death.

Blood tests showed the mother, a stay-at-home mom, had 20 different constituents of petroleum in her bloodstream — the same constituents emitted by the nearby drilling operations and found in the air in the family’s home. The mother’s visits to the doctor coincided with recorded emissions from the drilling operations around her home. The mother developed constant nausea and open sores so severe she had to go to the emergency room, where doctors had to pack her body in ice to relieve her pain. The 6-year-old got severe nosebleeds in her sleep and repeatedly woke up in pools of blood. The husband started losing his memory.

The verdict and award have been covered by major news outlets around the country and the world, but not in The Daily Sentinel. Why not? As drilling and fracking closes in around local residential areas, this information is very, very important to our area. People should be informed about it.

ANNE LANDMAN
Grand Junction


Dr. Pramenko ‘flip-flops 180 degrees’ on Obamacare

Recent commentary headlines in The Daily Sentinel have been:  “Despite glee over health care woes, GOP has no real health reform plan,” “Obamacare repeal advocates haven’t offered good alternatives” and “Republicans should declare victory on health reform, but they won’t.”

What do these headlines share?  They all were by Dr. Michael Pramenko, published Nov. 10, 2013;  Jan. 26 and May 4 respectively.  

But how do we describe someone who so effortlessly flipflops 180 degrees and offers irrational, conflicting arguments? To me, this appears to be a case of bipolar affective health-care advocate disorder.

This is a truly destructive disorder in which the bipolar health-care advocate tends to want to spend the taxpayers’ money on reckless schemes while accusing the opposition of obstruction and being the responsible for the schemes. Thus, this individual harms others, but not himself, which makes him more of a danger to society than a typical bipolar individual.

In this case, a truly confused health-care advocate accuses the opposition of having no plans, then no good plans, and finally, being responsible for the plans. If there were anything good to say about Obamacare, Pramenko wouldn’t be in such a conflicted state of being. 

Fortunately, there are treatments for this affliction, if only he will admit to having a problem.  I’m not holding my breath for that but instead waiting for another argument completely at odds with his previous arguments supporting Democrat Care. 

RICK L. COLEMAN
Grand Junction

Republicans’ mantra that government cannot create jobs ignores facts
 
In 455 B.C., Vandals sacked Rome. In today’s parlance, vandals are those who willfully and/or ignorantly mar and/or destroy property belonging to others and/or to the public.
 
From 1928 through 1932, Republican economic policies – decried by leading economists (and Henry Ford) as “economic stupidity” – precipitated the Great Depression.
 
Beginning in 1933, FDR used deficit federal spending to “prime the pump” of economic recovery through investments in public works projects and by creating a social safety net (Social Security and unemployment insurance) to sustain it during downturns.
 
While Republican still mindlessly claim that “government can’t create jobs,” that mantra willfully ignores the facts. Overall demand for domestically produced goods and services creates jobs, and that demand can originate from the private sector, from government or from overseas. World War II proved that the federal government’s demand for public goods (war materiel) created millions of jobs – many of which survived into peacetime.
 
In 1956, Republican President Eisenhower initiated the Interstate Highway System – which brought jobs all the way to Western Colorado and (along with the GI Bill and VHA home loan guarantees) spawned our vibrant Middle Class.
 
Beginning in 1981, Republican Ronald Reagan’s “voodoo economics” tripled the National Debt.  After Democrat Bill Clinton’s policies created 22 million new jobs and achieved a budget surplus, Republican George Bush’s tax cuts doubled the National Debt again (while “investing” trillions in Iraq and Afghanistan but nothing in the U.S.) – bequeathing President Obama the largest annual deficit in our history.
 
President Obama’s efforts to emulate FDR’s and Ike’s stimulative “prime the pump” policies were initially successful, but then thwarted by tea partiers in 2010 – who seem intent on destroying the social safety net and what remains of our middle class.
 
Thus, as Bob Dylan wrote in 1965, “The pump don’t work ‘cause the vandals took the handles.”
 
BILL HUGENBERG
Grand Junction

Nurses everywhere deserve recognition and appreciation

Having been a registered nurse for so many years, I sometimes forget how many times I have had a opportunity to make a difference in the life of those I served. I was always honored to serve the community in which I lived and worked.

Nursing, as a career, reaches into one’s soul and extracts the best of its practitioners. Nursing is the oldest vocation for women and became a real profession during the most horrible moments of the Civil War. Nursing is an honorable and noble profession.

This was sent to me by a friend who is a veteran: “This is the week that we honor those individuals who are always there to answer the call when needed but seldom are recognized for their dedication
to their profession and their compassion for those in pain. They don’t ask who you are or what your politics are. And they provide their services even to those who have no means to pay. They are the front line that stands between all the people and the suffering and death that sometimes life throws at us.”

To all nurses wherever you are:  Good on!  This week is for you.

BENITA PHILLIPS
Palisade

Conserve backcounty to help hunting and fishing economy

My family owns and operates an outdoor gear manufacturer based on the Western Slope. We supply hunters, backpackers and other outdoors adventurers with some of the finest tents, wood stoves and backpacks one can buy, and our products are made here in Colorado (mostly in Grand Junction). Our bottom line depends on the conservation of wildlife habitat and the maintenance of high-quality recreational opportunities on public lands.

Oftentimes economics drive the debate over public lands management. The billions of dollars in economic activity generated every year through hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation should get the attention it deserves. This is true locally, where the Grand Junction and White River BLM field offices are currently considering how to manage over 2.5 million acres of public lands, many of which are high-quality backcountry, providing intact wildlife habitat and superb dispersed recreational opportunities to the public.

Here are some statistics according to studies conducted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and American Sportfishing Association that reinforce the power of the hunting and fishing economy in Colorado and the nation:
• In Colorado, hunting and fishing accounted for $1.3 billion in direct expenditures in 2011.
• Hunting and fishing generated more than $171 million in state and local tax revenue in Colorado in 2011.
• If hunting in the U.S. were a company, the amount spent by sportsmen to support their hunting activities would place it at number 73 on the Fortune 500 list. Fishing would come in at number 51.

For hunting and fishing to remain an economic boon in Colorado and the Western Slope, the BLM must conserve intact and undeveloped backcountry lands as it revises the Grand Junction and White River resource management plans.

KEVIN TIMM
Ridgway


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