Printed Letters: March 12, 2014
Consider “devils in the details” before embracing 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 heavy toll on 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 close to the 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.
Our 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.
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 cannot 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.