Tax bill proves special interests are in control

I don’t understand why passing an unexamined, voodoo tax bill will prove the GOP is a competent political party to manage the financial needs of our country. Getting something done matters, but it matters more that it is beneficial. 

Their zeal to pass a bad bill is evidence we are no longer a government by the people. We are governed by wealthy special interests that are demanding results from their contributions. The middle class is not stupid. We know what happens when money is supposed to trickle down. The misery tracks up. Recent history. We know that the high corporate tax rate is not what corporations ever pay, since there are healthy loopholes, and anyway, that is where all the money is. Looking at the distribution of wealth it is clear who should bear the biggest chunk of revenue contributions. This tax bill is reported to throw millions off health care and increase the deficit by another 1.5 trillion. 

It is not fair to gamble with the future of our kids and it is certainly not conservative. It will no doubt eventually require austerity (middle class austerity), which will deprive us of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. There is no freedom in poverty. There is no America without a middle class. We all need to speak up.


Grand Junction 

Energy development can be environmentally responsible  

As an environmental professional, and practitioner of science, I know the local energy industry isn’t what activists have characterized this week. Instead, the natural gas industry is an incredible conflation of physics, chemistry, engineering and environmental science all working together. The environmental work we do every day is world-class, and the idea that western Colorado can’t have a healthy, balanced energy industry in Delta County just isn’t true. 

From someone who uses science every day to protect the environment, I believe activists might have a more balanced and thoughtful perspective if they understood the industry. The people I work with on a daily basis are responsible, highly educated energy professionals. David Ludlam referred to “eco-elitism,” but I’d just say that there is simply a disconnect between those who use energy and agriculture products and their understanding of where raw materials come from. Articulating this disconnect has touched a raw nerve that warrants more discussion. 

So where do we go from here? I believe all Americans should be open to understanding that energy from fossil fuels provide for a high quality of modern life — one that makes modern mountain town living possible. To this end we should turn to science and environmental stewardship to make sure energy is produced responsibly rather than falling victim to unhealthy all-or-none thinking that results in extreme policy ideas like “Too Wild to Drill” and energy and leasing bans. 


Grand Junction

 Coloradans want energy policy that puts people before profit 

B.S. detectors should blare when the West Slope’s preeminent oil and gas lobby group calls farmers “snobs.” As the recent passage at Broomfield’s ballot box showed, Coloradans are sick of raising legitimate concerns only to be dismissed and belittled by ad hominem attacks. Such boilerplate blather is fallacious and the refuge of those who know they have no other ground to stand on. Not too long ago a Colorado appellate court found that a plain reading of the state’s oil and gas charter requires protecting health and the environment as first priority. At the same time natural gas remains over-abundant. So much so that boosters hope to ship off America’s energy resources to China — even if they have to frack our best public lands and our most critical wildlife habitat.

Coloradans want balance and an energy policy that puts people before profit. We expect rational decisions based on American need, not solely on one industry’s greed. Why should our public lands that return billions into the economy in ecological services, recreational use, and as watersheds for half the nation, be put at risk or irreparably damaged to serve a singular special interest?

One thing is certain: Coloradans are fed up with the oil and gas industry’s entitled, attack-first attitude. Across Colorado, citizens are standing up to this tyranny and saying: no more. We’re not backing down. And a bunch of self-serving abusive nonsense from the oil and gas lobby isn’t going to make us.



We’re becoming like ISIS with regard to history

The people who demand that statues and plaques be removed and destroyed from our history are no different from the ISIS terrorists who destroy ancient artifacts in the Middle East and other countries.

I am not a highly educated man but I do know the difference between hating my neighbor and respecting my neighbor. 

Try it, it can’t hurt.


Grand Junction

Violations at trailheads are an issue in Grand Valley

A few days before Thanksgiving, my hiking partner and I went to the Paleo Trailhead in McInnis Canyon. Returning from the hike we found the truck had been broken into. This is the second time in our hiking history that the truck has been violated. We know others who have had similar experiences and, of course, read about such incidents in the blotter. Perhaps when touting our great outdoors we should add an asterisk with a disclaimer: “Don’t park at the trailhead.”


Grand Junction

We have right to preserve wild lands as a space to just ‘be’

In the ongoing yin yang discussion about using America’s wild lands as a source of energy extraction, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that these special places are where we go to teach our children about the mysteries of the natural world. It is where we go to find hope and heal from personal loss and grief, to refresh our souls, and to renew our faith in a higher power that has greater wisdom than we might perceive in a world rife with tweets, anger, hunger, and materialistic decision-making. 

As Aldo Leopold wrote in Sand County Almanac, “Cease being intimidated by the argument that a right action is impossible because it does not yield maximum profits, or that a wrong action is to be condoned because it pays.”

We have the right to preserve enough wild spaces for us all to quietly just “be” without the whir of industry and extraction in the background. 


Grand Junction

Piceance Basin a resource that should be monetized

Jim Spehar’s reflective column on the minerals industry and illustrative quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson (“The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons”) should be considered in relation to the torrent of misinformed letters to the editor that contemporized it.

While Mr. Spehar recognized the obvious fiscal and economic merits of federal mineral leasing and production while disparaging the resource industry for identifying the benefits on their own, his letter-writing contemporaries, Gayle Madden and Karen Ortiz, focused exclusively on misinformed claims of adversity without any recognition of the fiscal and economic benefits of developing minerals to drastically increase the property tax base, and provide economic opportunities for persons employed in the 87 industry categories that don’t benefit from the organic farming that they espouse wholeheartedly.

I do agree with Gayle Madden “that drilling and fracking is something that affects our children’s inheritance” as the federal royalties, severance taxes, ad valorem taxes, and property taxes from mineral development will fund public education, community infrastructure, government services, and social services for children and young adults in the Grand and Roaring Fork Valleys for decades to come. 

I also agree with Karen Ortiz that the Piceance Basin should be protected for future generations to enjoy, and that is why development plans in the basin are designed to reduce surface impact as much as possible by concentrating wells into pads and minimizing and reclaiming roads. 

However, Karen’s assertion that oil and natural gas may reside in the Piceance Basin and that the presence of the resource doesn’t make the basin important is misguided as the presence of the resource has been proven while its geographic extent is finite. Instead, the very fact that oil and gas resources aren’t widespread make them a valuable community resource that should be monetized to provide fiscal and economic opportunities for the federal taxpayers that own them and the local communities that benefit from their development. Additionally there isn’t any push to open more land to drilling and mining as the same Piceance Basin minerals have been under development for decades. 

Instead it seems obvious that there is a push from self-aggrandizing eco-agriculturists to eradicate resource development from a basin where it has existed for decades despite the fact that it has never had any proven impact on agricultural enterprises in the Grand or North Fork valleys in the past and won’t have any in the future. Thus, to put it simply, we have a difference of opinion regarding the form of person that is talking loudly and the type of spoons being counted. 


Grand Junction

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