Published letters, December 9, 2012
Some press accounts have cited sources that call the Hall bill (H.R. 6603) an oil shale subsidy. It is not. Oil shale firms will not receive this funding. This funding is for research by government agencies — principally the Department of Energy — to establish independent, baseline environmental information such as water supply and quality impacts for which the public and conservation groups are clamoring.
DOE and other agencies are receiving funding to conduct research into other energy sources, including renewable energy and energy efficiency. At DOE, the 2013 budget request is $2.3 billion for the latter program — up by 29 percent from the 2012 expected expenditures.
This dwarfs the $10 million per year proposed in the Hall bill. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorized this research, which the DOE is ignoring, thus requiring special legislation from Congress.
Whether any of the discretionary portions of the DOE budget are justified is debatable, but I hope cost-conscious citizens will look beyond going only after oil shale and critique the DOE budget as a whole.
DOE was established to move the nation toward energy independence. From my vantage point, it is doing little to advance that important goal.
Remove lethal weapons if someone seems suicidal
First of all, I want to be clear that I’m not on an anti-gun mission. However, in 1970 when my dad was threatening suicide, I took custody of his 12-gauge shotgun. I still have it, and he went on to live another 10 years before his death of natural causes.
The recent and very public suicide of Kansas City Chiefs football player Jovan Belcher compels me to comment on the availability of guns and the role they play in the number of suicides in the nation and Mesa County.
The Harvard School of Public Health has found that, while some suicides are deliberative and involve careful planning, many appear to have an impulsive component and occur during a short-term crisis in which the acute period of heightened risk for suicidal behavior often lasts only minutes or hours. Easy access to guns and the impulsive nature of many suicides are a lethal combination.
Today, there is increased awareness of the danger of drinking and driving, and there isn’t hesitation about taking away the car keys when someone has had too much to drink. A lethal weapon available to a person in the depths of despair can end a life in an instant.
If someone in your house is at risk of suicide, please take away access to the means. Remove medications if that’s appropriate. Take away keys if that’s necessary. And, yes, remove or lock firearms. You’ll be glad you did.
Suicide Prevention Foundation
Selling off public lands is wrong way to fix budget
We’re lucky in Colorado because many of our state’s most remarkable landscapes are on public lands that we all own.
From iconic peaks to isolated mountain streams, these lands offer prime opportunities for reflection, recreation, hunting and fishing, among other pursuits. They’re places that have brought many of us here to live and work in the first place.
In fact, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates outdoor activities such as these brought $2.9 billion into Colorado’s economy last year. Outside projections indicate that President Obama’s recent designation of Chimney Rock as a national monument will double the economic benefit the iconic formation provides the region, bringing an additional $1.2 million to the area.
Coloradans on the whole saw nearly 75,000 jobs and more than $14 billion in economic development derived from our public lands, and that’s just in 2011.
Coloradans understand that our national leaders should exhibit a careful balance when managing the American people’s investment in these lands. Whether an area is drilled for oil and gas or preserved as wilderness (both important and legitimate uses), the proper stewardship — and continued ownership — of our public lands should be prioritized if Colorado’s going to thrive in the 21st century.
Unfortunately, that ownership and balanced stewardship are currently threatened. Some members of the House of Representatives have proposed selling off millions of acres of public lands to the highest bidder. These millions of acres you and I hold title to would be put up on the auction block if some have their way.
It’s clear the federal government must confront our fiscal challenges, but policies such as this put our economic future, not to mention our treasured national heritage, at risk. Rather, we should protect one of the key economic drivers of Colorado’s economy — our public lands —– by rejecting these misguided policies.
SEN. MICHAEL BENNET