Printed letters, October 25, 2013

Columnist Jim Spehar could barely contain his glee over another employer pulling up stakes, while displaying his incomprehension of how business and the economy works.

Shell did not abandon its oil shale project to reinvest in other endeavors. It just moved the project to countries where jobs, economic growth and energy development are more welcome. Earlier this year, the oil shale industry was devastated by a retooled environmental impact statement that, among other things, made it all but impossible for a company to capitalize on successful R&D investment.

Shell made the only decision the government left available. This may be what Spehar and the Sierra Club consider “an evolving marketplace.” But to the rest of us, it is a vindictive government agency, allying itself with a powerful special-interest lobby, singling out a specific industry and imposing on it an unsustainable regulatory environment in pursuit of an agenda.

For all of their talk of “progress” and of being pro-science, the leftist community sure seems regressive in this case. If the federal government would have just stayed out of industry’s way, or at least been reasonable in its approach to oil shale development on federal land — instead of kowtowing to the Luddite, anti-everything lobby — who knows what technologies could have grown out of oil shale research? The applications might very well have spread beyond just freeing up an enormous domestic energy source which could have weaned us completely off Middle Eastern oil.

Now, of course, we may never know. But thanks to Ken Salazar’s vindictiveness, Spehar’s cheerleading and the deafening silence from Gov. Hickenlooper and Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, maybe we will be able to ask the Jordanians, hat in hand, for some technological help in the near future.


Grand Junction

Penry’s strategy won’t affect Mark Udall next November

Josh Penry’s Oct. 18 column proposes a 2014 election strategy based on making Harry Reid’s recent Senate performance the centerpiece for GOP victory. Thus, tie Sen. Mark Udall’s re-election bid to Reid, tie Reid to a despicable (although true) image and, Voila!, Republican candidate X has the race in the bag.

What, then, is to be said of Republican strategists who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the recent budget-default-Obamacare debacle, when much more was at stake than one Senate seat? Hadn’t they yet discovered Reid? Did the cat have their collective tongue? Or, did they just forget to call Penry?

Start with the basics: The Republicans were fools. They abandoned legitimate constitutional footing and yielded principled action to selective public polls and masterfully delivered propaganda. The sad truth is that, on that basis alone they deserved to lose. The sadder truth is the abominable result.

Most Coloradans probably have no idea who Harry Reid is. Fewer probably care. By November 2014, still fewer will likely remember these recent, fateful days, which by then will have been diluted by relentless new drama, trauma, scandal and treachery.

Penry is likely correct that Udall is a Reid minion. But he will come across as a big-picture guy (NSA spying inquiry), and an advocate for the little guy (Western Slope listening tour on the critical federal matter of what name the Colorado National Monument should bear.)

The best lies always contain persuasive elements of truth.


Grand Junction


Democrats refused to let 
GOP take Obamacare hostage

I read Josh Penry’s recent twisted diatribe, “Reid’s shutdown partisanship will haunt Colorado Sen. Udall.” First, Penry claims he supports and is “glad Sen. Ted Cruz did what he did.” And what did Penry claim Cruz did? He fought, “increasing the debt.”

No! The shutdown that Sen. Cruz supported, along with tea-party crazies in the House, had to do with holding the government hostage over what should have been routine legislation to keep the government open and running and to extend and increase the government’s borrowing capacity to pay our debts.

Why did Obama and Reid refuse to negotiate? Because what Cruz and the tea party were demanding was for the White House and the Senate to negotiate, under this hostage threat, to modify Obamacare that had passed legislatively and had been upheld by a conservative Supreme Court.

Not once in Penry’s column does he mention that this outrageous fight was over Obamacare. Why? Because even Penry knows that the fight was ridiculous and anti-democratic. If legislators do not like existing law, their options are to fight it in court or introduce modifying legislation — not to shut government down.

In a bizarre twist of logic, Penry claims that “from the shrill, partisan lips of the majority leader” came this repetitive message: “I will not negotiate with Republicans.” No! There was nothing to negotiate unless he wanted to erode our democratic processes.

Finally, in another distortion, Penry claims that Sen. Mark Udall will lose in his reelection bid because he is “on Reid’s leash.” In this convoluted interpretation of events, Republicans will take over the U.S. Senate. What?

Where are reasonable, thoughtful Republicans who represent different positions and opinions with Democrats, but understand good government is respecting and negotiating out differences? It is clear that Penry does not represent this caliber of Republicans.




Ohio visitor recommends 
park status for monument

Several friends recommended that I visit the Colorado National Monument on my September trip to the West. They were right. It was amazing.

So why, I asked, isn’t it a national park like the other 11 great parks that I also visited? I was told that it was because of one politician. I don’t know who he is, but the people of Grand Junction should implore him to sponsor the bill that would make it a national park.

I live next to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Just recently it became a national park, and it has brought lots of tourists and their dollars to the area. We’re the 10th most visited in the U.S. You could be benefiting in the same way if you had a national park.

I look forward to my next trip back to Colorado to have a longer stay at your “monument.”


Sagamore Hills, Ohio


Self-help housing program 
may lose USDA funding

Housing prices are rising, according to national reports, and that’s good for the economy and homeowners, but it makes finding affordable housing even more of a challenge. At the nonprofit Housing Resources of Western Colorado, we address that challenge in part through “The Mutual Self-Help” housing program — a nationwide program offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and facilitated by nonprofits in rural areas. The program enables prospective homebuyers who are without a down payment and require an affordable monthly payment to help build the homes themselves.

The homebuyers are, by definition, hard-working members of our communities who simply need an alternative way to buy a home. Eighty percent have never owned a home.

We’ve helped build more than 310 self-help homes since 1996 in Mesa County and surrounding areas, and more are being built. Unfortunately, the USDA’s Rural Development programs, including the self-help housing program, are under budget review, and certain communities are at risk of losing access to USDA funds. Ongoing discussions in Congress will determine the future of many USDA programs.

The value of self-help housing extends to the entire community, because home ownership helps stabilize families. That’s why Housing Resources of Western Colorado is pleased to be in the forefront of a new movement called Home Matters ( It’s a unique national initiative that aims to unite America around the essential role that a home plays as the bedrock for thriving lives, communities and a stronger nation.

The Home Matters initiative means a lot to Mesa County. Home ownership is key to community revitalization, and self-help housing is an essential tool for making home ownership affordable.


Executive Director

Housing Resources

of Western Colorado

Grand Junction


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Though I appreciate Sarah Young’s passion for playing the blame game, that passion blinds her to the truth.  The truth is that oil and gas companies operate with profits.  When R&D shows that a process does not merit further study because there is no foreseeable profit, the company pulls the plug.  The ONLY entity that supports R&D with real long term benefits (not just profit) in mind, is the US government.  A good example of what I speak, is the advantage of telemetry.  NASA developed, and the US taxpayers paid for, the R&D for telemetry development with NO profit margin in mind.  So the next time someone you love has a heart attack or goes in for some type of monitoring, thank your the NIH/NASA and the long term vision of development without profits.  OMG….that’s socialism!

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