Letters 3/10/22

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Correction: Originally, the article “Get out of Boulder” (News, March 3, 2022) incorrectly stated that initial costs for a new day shelter in Boulder will be funded by part of the $20 million Boulder is set to receive through the American Rescue Plan Act. To clarify: it has only been put forward during council meetings that a portion of the city’s ARPA money be dedicated to a day shelter, but the money has yet to be allocated to such a project yet, according to an email from councilmember Nicole Speer.

Thacker Pass

Electric vehicles are becoming more common. This demand is increasing the cost of, and the profit in, “green” metals.  That may be why a subsidiary of a Canadian corporation is proposing to build an open pit lithium mine at Thacker Pass in Northern Nevada. Is the “Green Revolution” becoming a “Greed Revolution”? 

Choosing “n” for green or “d” for greed might be part of the “nd” game for life on Earth. Lithium is used in the batteries of electric cars. Neither sage grouse nor pronghorn antelope drive. They will, however, be driven closer to extinction if the mine on Thacker Pass is allowed to proceed.

This mine will not only destroy habitat.  It will also suck up water. A lot of water.  It is estimated that this mine could use 5,200 acre-feet per year.  Nevada is one of the driest states in the nation. It only gets 8 inches of rain, on average, per year. 

There are alternatives to this mine:

REDUCE: Curb our demand.

REUSE: Hot waste water from geothermal power plants could be a rich source of lithium.
(sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0262407909632486)

RECYCLE: “A study last year found that recycled retired batteries could supply more than half of the global demand for cobalt, lithium, manganese and nickel by 2040, thereby reducing the need for new mines.” (High Country News, February 2022, pg. 17)

Recently Serbia Prime Minister Ana Brnabic stopped the development of Jadar, Europe’s biggest lithium mine. She cited environmental concerns. Let’s stop the mine at Thacker Pass for the health of our planet and the survival of the sage grouse.

Kristen Marshall, Boulder

Rebuilding after the
Marshall Fire

Many homeowners in Louisville and Superior are beginning to understand that they were significantly under-insured and therefore lack sufficient resources to pay for rebuilding. Lower- and middle-income homeowners will not have the resources to rebuild what they had.  

One rebuilding option could help not only homeowners, but displaced renters, too. The homeowner could build two smaller homes, where once stood a larger home. The second unit would provide rental income, and help create a revenue stream to cover costs. Or a smaller home could be built on a lot, with an ADU within it or behind it or over the garage. These options would both create a revenue stream for the homeowner and  provide much-needed rental housing. 

This option is not for everyone. But it will be a solution for some owners if the cities will flex the zoning to enable it to happen. There are numerous examples of lovely townhouses, duplexes and ADUs throughout Boulder County. These units blend in with the existing community seamlessly and protect neighborhood character. Where whole neighborhoods were destroyed, a new neighborhood character can be created—one that includes a diversity of housing types, suitable for people at different price points and ages, including renters. We encourage the communities of Louisville and Superior to review their building and zoning codes to create needed flexibility for those seeking to build back, and for those renters who are now being priced even further out of our community through rising rents. Let’s keep options open for rebuilders and give people a chance to stay in our community, while creating opportunities for our fire-displaced residents (both homeowners and renters) to afford to live here.  

Annmarie Jensen, East County Housing Opportunity Coalition;

Geof Cahoon, Boulder Area Labor;

Annett James, NAACP Boulder County;

Rev. Dr. Charisa Hunter-Crump, Senior Minister, Cairn Christian Church (Disciples of Christ),  Member Together Colorado, Boulder County;

SarahDawn Haynes, Chair, Indian Peaks Group of the Sierra Club 

Finding a way forward on
the Child Tax Credit 

Over the last two decades, Congress has enacted $8 trillion in tax cuts, almost all of which have gone to the wealthiest people in this country. And each time those tax cuts have approached expiration, I’ve witnessed Congress go to great lengths to extend them. 

 But when the biggest tax cut for working families in modern American history was on the line in December, Congress went home. We let a lifeline for tens of millions of children disappear, while we allowed the Trump tax cuts for the wealthy to endure. 

 And now, as we predicted, nearly four million kids have been plunged back into poverty—in the middle of a pandemic that has already taken so much from them. 

 This should be a wake-up call for Congress and the White House to come together and find a way forward on the Child Tax Credit. We must not turn our backs on America’s children. 

Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet 

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