Printed Letters: May 12, 2017

Thanks to Sen. Bennet for preserving methane rule

I write to express my gratitude that The Daily Sentinel has been such a staunch supporter of the November 2016 BLM rule requiring the capture of heretofore wasted gas from oil and gas wells, thus reflecting the concerns of so many western Coloradans.

I am grateful that Wednesday the U.S. Senate, in a close 51-49 vote, refused to forward the repeal of this rule under the Congressional Review Act, which the U.S. House had already done. I am grateful that all the Senate Democrats plus Republicans John McCain, Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham opposed the repeal of the rule.

I am also grateful that Colorado provided the model for BLM, establishing a methane capture rule in 2014.

Last month, I traveled west from Rangely into Utah with a small western Colorado group. One of our group was an infrared (IR) cameraman whose $100,000 camera allowed us to see and record emissions otherwise invisible.

We visited several wellheads, observing emissions at each site. In one case, in addition to constant smaller emissions, we were surprised by a sudden, large blast of gas. The surge lasted for more than three minutes. This IR camera has been used on many Colorado sites without finding such emissions. My home of Rio Blanco County, however, has been given an F grade by the American Lung Association in their 2017 Report, released in mid-April, for ozone levels.

The public and tribal lands across the border were pockmarked with wells and our camera showed how polluting these sites can be. Uintah and Duchesne Counties in Utah also received F grades for ozone with many more days of hazardous ozone levels. The natural gas emissions in Utah mix with nitrous oxides and sunlight becoming ozone smog, some of which drifts into Colorado.

The anticipated effects of the rule nationally include increased royalty revenues for U.S. taxpayers, improved air quality and reduced health hazards.  It is very disappointing that neither our 3rd Congressional District Rep. Scott Tipton nor U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner voted to keep the rule or these benefits.

REED KELLEY
Meeker

Kudos to West Slope lawmakers for supporting rural hospitals

Thank you to state representatives Dan Thurlow, Yeulin Willett and Bob Rankin for supporting Senate Bill 267.

The bill provides more stable and reliable funding for needed hospital services in the Grand Valley region and throughout rural Colorado.

Western Colorado hospitals like St. Mary’s would have lost millions of dollars, forcing medical service reductions or staff layoffs.

SB 267 is a win for rural Colorado healthcare and for our local economy. Thank you both for your courage!

BRIAN M. DAVIDSON, M.D.
President, St. Mary’s Medical Center
Grand Junction

GOP senators reject advocate for the LGBT community

The Republican rejection of Heidi Hess for a continuing position on the civil rights commission is nothing less than a demonstration of homophobia, no matter how they try to spin it.

With this vote, Republican senators rejected both an advocate for the LGBT community, so often denied a voice, and a resident of the Western Slope.

The Republicans are fighting a war on civil rights, which they believe they can define. Their version of civil rights does not include rights for their LGBT constituents.

SARAH L. SWEDBERG
Grand Junction

AHCA no solution to health 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 a 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. Cory Gardner, and tell him that the AHCA is no solution to the health care coverage problems we face.

DEBORAH STETLER
Grand Junction


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