Why can’t we all get along? Well, name-calling for starters
David Ludlam recently wrote an opinion piece touting all the benefits Mesa County derives from the largess of the fossil fuel industry. I’ve met David. He is a nice guy, but he is also paid to be the voice of fossil fuels in western Colorado. He isn’t paid to be objective. Neither am I. This is an opinion column, and I am not a journalist. I have a few things to say in response to his column.
First, David, did you think about this quote before you made it: “Snarky sentiment sparks vitriol between business interests that all actually have a lot of common ground.” As soon as you call someone snarky because they are glad that outdoor recreation industry is getting attention, you lose the high ground. But that wasn’t enough, you went on to say: “Kooks and crazies will always oppose energy development. Curmudgeons and cowards will always hate new ideas.” Given that name-calling, it is hard to have a civil conversation.
At risk of sounding snarky or being accused of being a kook or crazy or curmudgeon or coward, the local fossil fuels industry has never demonstrated that it is a good collaborative neighbor. Have you any idea how many BLM hearings I’ve attended where industry did everything they possibly could to scare away anyone who does not agree with them? Oil field workers are paid to attend, given badges or T-shirts to wear, and served dinner. Industry has the money to do that, ordinary citizens do not. David, you did a good job of paying to get your message out, but you are not particularly good at listening to another point of view.
There are three main points industry is ignoring: The environment is impacted by industry and people get sick as a result. Colorado has a thriving and growing outdoor recreation industry that will allow us to diversify our economy and minimize the impacts of the boom-and-bust cycle in extractive industries. Coal, natural gas, and oil are not the only sources of energy. Environmentalists do not oppose energy development. We like Hillary Clinton’s idea to make America the world’s clean energy super power.
A Denver Post article recently reported that nationwide there are 750,000 summertime asthma attacks in kids exposed to pollution coming from the oil patch. Colorado ranks third, behind Texas and Oklahoma, with about 33,000 attacks every summer. This information is in a report that was conducted with help from scientists at Colorado State University. A paid spokesperson from the industry tried to shed doubt on the results, which were vigorously defended by scientists. Who are you going to believe, industry or independent scientists?
Fruita is busy promoting an industrial park designed to host manufacturers in the outdoor recreation industry. Palisade has two festivals that bring tourist and sales and lodging tax revenue to local governments: The Peach Festival and the Wine Festival. Scientists are now telling us that ozone, makes plants like peaches and grapes sick, reducing yields. If people are not coming to Mesa County because agriculture and therefore ag-tourism is damaged, or they are afraid to breathe our air, we are going to have a hard time diversifying our economy.
Ozone is both naturally occurring in the atmosphere and created by humans. The largest growing source of ozone pollution in the U.S. is the oil patch. Ozone contributes to global warming, another topic the industry refuses to discuss. In fact, they are trying to prevent an on-going investigation into shareholder fraud caused by hiding facts about the impacts of industry by suing several state’s attorneys general.
When we discuss energy development, why is our only focus coal, oil and gas? Why are we called kooks when we mention decreasing costs of clean energy and increasing externalities of fossil fuels? Am I crazy when I say that America needs a moon shot to clean energy?
Instead of insulting us, why not look at what we are advocating? How about challenge grants to help communities develop wind, solar, geo-thermal, and carbon capture and sequestration technologies? How about upgrading all schools and public buildings so that they are more energy efficient? How about building transmission infrastructure to support clean energy? How about improving public transportation to include light rail from one end of the valley to the other, with buses feeding into rail stops? How about investing in solar and wind installations on our public lands?
Fossil fuels are the past. They are not the future. True, we need to transition from one era to the next, but we can’t even begin to transition until we are all working together to think creatively and collaborate on projects that give us economic diversity and a sustainable environment. Stop insulting and intimidating us. Let’s have a real conversation.
Claudette Konola proudly stands with the visionaries taking us into a new clean energy era. Comments are welcome at: https://www.facebook.com/konola4colo/