Printed letters, August 22, 2012

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Larry F. Brown’s letter “Government subsidizes wind-turbine slaughter of wildlife” (August 22, 2012) presents a classic conflict between energy and environmental policies.

However, it should be noted that “we have subsidized the wind power industry” only in fits and starts “for 30 years”.  During the periods when those subsidies have been allowed to lapse, our once world-leading wind power technology industry migrated abroad.

Under the expiring subsidy (which provides a 30% tax credit for installed wind turbines),  manufacturers – including Vestas, a Danish company – have returned to “where the wind is”, creating jobs in Iowa, Wyoming, and Colorado (including Mesa County).

Likewise, wind power is fast becoming “economic”.  Two weeks ago, Excel Energy generated an all-time record high percentage of its total electricity output from wind – and expects to double its average percentage output in a year.

Colorado owes much to the foresight of former Democratic Governor Bill Ritter, who persuaded Excel to accede to legislation requiring it to link rural sources of renewable energy to its power grid and to meet graduated production goals.  With the advent of technology that allows it to predict the wind, Excel can now efficiently take coal-fired plants off-line when wind power is sufficient to satisfy the demand for electricity. 

While “wind turbines kill more than 500,000 birds and bats each year”, British scientists found that 5x more birds die annually from encounters with other man-made objects (cars, sky-scrapers, and airplanes).  Nevertheless, bats remain problematic – because air pressure changes caused by rotating turbine blades may interfere with bats’ innate sonar navigation.  More careful site selection for wind turbines could mitigate this problem.

Meanwhile, wind power remains an integral element of the suite of energy alternatives advocated by both Presidential candidates.  Thus, even though real environmental issues remain, the Wind Energy Tax Credit should be extended.

              Bill Hugenberg
              543 Rim Drive
              Grand Junction, CO 81507
                  257-1998

Thursday’s timely editorial – “Stumbling toward the fiscal cliff” – should focus the attention of “every sentient” Sentinel reader on the origins of our impending “fiscal catastrophe”.

While it is refreshing to see Scott Tipton depart from his Tea Party colleagues and join our two stalwart Democratic Senators in calling for “bipartisan” solutions, informed observers can interpret that as his recognition of Republicans’ culpability for the crisis.

Thus, the Sentinel’s endorsement of the Simpson-Bowles “plan” is quite revealing.  After a bipartisan House majority passed legislation establishing a fiscal commission, President Obama endorsed the proposal—but the Senate then rejected the legislation, with six of its Republican co-sponsors voting against their own bill!

President Obama then established the “National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform” by executive order and named Republican Alan Simpson and Democrat Erskine Bowles as its co-chairmen.  The House named Paul Ryan as a member.

When the chairmen confirmed that both “long-term spending cuts and broad tax reform that eliminated most tax loopholes” were under consideration, anti-tax extemist Grover Norquist (whose “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” both Tipton and Ryan signed, thereby by subordinating their oaths of office to ideology) announced that “closing loopholes” were “tax increases” and were therefore “off the table”.

In response, former Senator Simpson (R-WY) observed that not “doing something with the income tax is a fakery”.

The “final report” called for annual discretionary spending cuts of $200 billion, “revenue enhancements” of $100 billion (raising taxes and closing loopholes), retaining the $716 billion Medicare savings under “Obamacare”, cutting some popular subsidies, raising the Social Security income cap, and reducing the corporate tax rate.

With all three House Republicans (including Ryan) voting against these “all or nothing” proposals, the Simpson-Bowles “plan” failed to achieve the super-majority required.

So, when will the Sentinel begin exposing Republican “fakery” and Romney-Ryan lies?

              Bill Hugenberg
              543 Rim Drive
              Grand Junction, CO 81507
Word Count = 300         257-1998



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