Printed letters, May 5, 2012
I’ve been perplexed by the continuous battles about the future of oil shale in Colorado highlighted in recent newspaper articles.
I started in the oil shale industry in Garfield County in the 1950s, worked on oil shale projects here through the 1980s, and recently became involved in new oil shale venture on one of the BLM’s RD&D projects. During these times, oil shale contributed to the vitality of downtown Rifle and surrounding areas, and key infrastructure projects funded by the industry provided significant improvements that continue to benefit us today. I have also seen the positive results of increased number of high-paying jobs and tax revenues on the local area.
During the 1970s, the oil shale trust fund contributed over $100 million to affected communities for roads, schools, hospitals, city buildings, and water treatment plants. Mesa County governments received over $16 million, and Rio Blanco county governments received over $35 million. Rifle alone received $2 million for the Highway 13 bypass and an estimated $10 million dollars for various expenses.
In addition, Exxon spent over $100 million to build a new town and schools near Parachute, and Unocal built apartment buildings and schools and supported other local governmental expenses in the Parachute and Rifle area — all without any tax dollars.
Although the termination of the Colony project in 1982 (Black Sunday) was devastating for many, the Unocal project operated until 1991 and provided a continuing source of employment for thousands. Moreover, all the infrastructure improvements funded by oil shale remained after 1991 and provided a foundation for eventual recovery of the local economies.
The Rifle bypass, for example, was critical for the uranium tailing remediation projects. The old Unocal plant provided infrastructure for the American Soda project, parts of which are now operated by Solvay and Encana. Also, the stress of the recent natural gas boom would have been far more painful without the infrastructure paid for by oil shale development funds.
Modern oil shale projects will be more phased in development and will require far fewer employees due to process improvements and advances in automation. Companies universally support the use of advance contributions to local infrastructure that can be applied as a credit to later bonus and royalty payments as a way of making sure that the infrastructure is available when needed.
It is time to take a more balanced view of our past and move on to a well-planned future involving stepwise development of oil shale.
Gambling is not an enginefor creating wealth
Special interest groups are trying to pass HB 1280 as a jobs creator, but the bill would have a lot of negative impact because it would expand gambling on the Western Slope. It is a black hole for wealth, not an engine for creating wealth.
Wealth is created by extraction and use of mineral resources, agriculture, ranching, the timber industry, manufacturing, science and technology. These things enhance and advance people’s lives.
Gambling has been limited in Colorado for good reason. The gambling habit deteriorates the well-being of families and communities. It is common knowledge that gambling is a magnet for prostitution, drugs and increased crime. The Western Slope has been a wonderful place to live and raise families. Most people like it that way and want to preserve that heritage. Just a few years ago, gambling was voted down by 78 percent of Mesa County residents and 81 percent of Colorado.
Who is pushing this unhealthy habit? Is it the operators who would keep 70 percent of the “winnings?” Meanwhile, the taxpayers would be charged for all the fallout of increased crime and social services needed to provide for the destroyed families that will inevitably follow in its wake. In these perilous economic times we don’t want to gamble on this.
Some will say you can’t legislate morality. Really? Don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t slander. Every law on the statute books is an example of enacted morality or it is procedural thereto. It’s not a question of is morality being legislated, but whose morality is being legislated?
John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Our constitutional republic has been undermined too much already. Please urge your representatives to vote against HB 1280.
How does vetoing oil pipeline make any sense?
I am sorry, but I don’t have a Harvard degree nor am I touted as one of the most intelligent people in the country as our great leader claims he is. I don’t understand some of his reasoning.
He vetoes the Keystone XL Pipeline that would deliver millions of gallons of oil from Canada to our refineries that would help reduce our dependency on foreign oil and reduce our prices, as well as put thousands of workers back to work and off of welfare.
What is his reasoning? Is it that the pipeline will be dangerous to our environment? Instead lets put it in 3,000-gallon-oil tankers and run them at 75 mph on crowded freeways through our countries’ most populated cities and not think there will ever be an accident.
Sure doesn’t make sense to this GED holder.