Letters: 5/18/17

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Rocky Flats unsafe for public use

Thank you for the excellent article on the former Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant by Josh Schlossberg [Re: News, “Buried in the past?,” May 11]. I am a member of the Rocky Flats Technical Group. We are scientists who were contractors and members of advisory panels, and some of us worked at the plant.

The plan to open this contaminated site to public recreation is dangerous. Department of Energy’s “subsurface remaining contaminants” map shows tunnels, imploded building remnants, original plutonium process waste lines and unlined trenches remaining on the Superfund site, which is inside of the Refuge. No cleanup under 6 feet. Additionally remaining are sprayfields and a 40-foot deep ravine called the Original Landfill, which is sliding and polluting Woman Creek. Winds, floods and burrowing animals distribute radioactive carcinogens to the Refuge.

Our situation is similar to that of Flint, Michigan, where there was a failure of the local, state and federal authorities to protect the population from lead in the drinking water in spite of repeated warnings from a local pediatrician.

DOE, EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) are insisting that there is no problem despite the fact that it is scientifically accepted that 1 microgram of plutonium inhaled is potentially fatal and that it is known that the 1957 and 1967 plutonium fire distributed a great deal of it.

Facts are real, and the public should be warned.

Anne Fenerty, Boulder

Danish Wrong on GMOs

Like most readers of the Boulder Weekly, I stopped bothering to read Paul Danish some time ago. But Paul Monsanto Danish’s column on April 27 [Re: “The March for Science and the missing protest sign”] was hard to avoid, given editorial enhancement by large boxes with half-inch letters quoting some of Danish’s absurd claims.

Danish has spouted his spurious claims repeatedly and they were his main platform in his failed run for commissioner. To clarify with facts: All agriculture is scientific, and has been for thousands of years. Agriculture is based on domesticated plants and animals. Don’t underestimate the ability of non-literate humans to engage in systematic observation and experimentation to achieve domestication. The process of domestication involves human selection of desired phenotypic traits effecting and altering genotypes.

What Danish erroneously terms “scientific agriculture” is qualitatively different, involving splicing of genes foreign to the organism, that could never occur through natural or human selection. Some have termed this genetic engineering Frankenscience, as in horribly monstrous. But it’s worse than that. The overriding purpose of GMOs is profit. It’s greed science.

GMOs are not being developed to increase the food supply and alleviate hunger in Third World countries. They are being developed by corporate capitalist agribusiness to control agriculture for profit in First World countries. Almost all GMO crop production (soybeans, corn, canola and cotton) is for crops not consumed by humans for food, but used for animal feed, oil or clothing, all grown in a few temperate First World countries. GMO “Roundup Ready” corn is not eaten by humans; it is fed to cattle so that First World inhabitants can have tasty steaks.

Monsanto Corporation develops GMOs that respond to herbicides they develop so that they can control the sale of seed and the poisons that let it grow unhindered by weeds. Monsanto Corporation develops seeds that produce sterile seeds, so that farmers are dependent on the corporation and must buy new seed every year.

There is no profit in developing GMO food crops such as cassava or sorghum for tropical Third World countries. The farmers there are too poor. Even if GMOs were designed to increase the food supply in Third World countries, that would not alleviate hunger. The Malthusian dilemma is that increasing the food supply causes an increase in population, another fact distorted by Danish’s disinformation.

The County Commissioners were entirely right to ban greed science GMOs from county Open Space.

Pete Gleichman, Ward

Keep municipalization tax going

I want the City Council to know that I am in favor of extending our current tax to support municipalization.

While the total amount spent on municipalization is a large number (about $10 million from 2011 through 2016), on a per-person basis it is not very much. If you do the math, it is only about $1.60 per person per month — about the cost of a cup of coffee.

I consider this an excellent use of my money in exchange for all the benefits of local control, resilience, local entrepreneurial opportunities and especially for the benefits of clean energy. I’ll gladly pay a couple of bucks a month to help avoid the worst of climate change. I’m grateful to the citizens and the community leadership for giving me a chance to do something real right here in my hometown. And when I consider what Xcel is taking from our community, the investment in municipalization seems a real bargain. In contrast to what we’ve spent on municipalization, Xcel’s after-tax net income from Boulder is over $20 million every year. With municipalization, much of this money could stay in our community. Without municipalization, this drain on our economy will continue in perpetuity.

Suzanne Spiegel, Boulder

Open Letter to Boulder County Commissioners

I am making a formal request that the Board of County Commissioners do the following as soon as possible to protect the health and safety of the citizens of Boulder County:

1. Mapping of all oil and gas wells, active and inactive, within unincorporated Boulder County.

2. Mapping of all flow and gathering lines, active and inactive, within unincorporated Boulder County

3. Inspection of the above by an independent agency not allied with the industry but contracted by the County or answerable to the County alone.

4. Immediate repairs of any defective or unsafe wells and lines to be paid for by the industry, not the taxpayers.

5. Issue an emergency proclamation for the health and safety of county residents that prohibits the approval of any new oil and gas operations within unincorporated Boulder County until it can be clearly shown that such operations are guaranteed to be safe based on the conditions of existing wells and flow lines. (“Safe” to be defined as a failure rate of less than 1 percent based on results of inspection of all existing lines and wells). Any approval of new permits would be in reckless disregard of public health and safety.

6. Meet with the Governor ASAP to demand that he declare an emergency and prohibit further oil and gas operations until such time as all wells and lines are mapped and inspected and determined to be safe and any wells and lines not safe to be immediately made safe. (Bring in other commissioners as needed or appropriate).

7. File an Amicus brief in support of Martinez v. COGCC.

8. Make a public commitment to 100 percent renewable energy in county government by 2030. This is to include all buildings and vehicles operated by the county.

9. Establish building codes by 2030 that require the use of ground source heat pumps and solar electric on all new homes permitted in the county to eliminate the need for natural gas heating and coal-generated electricity.

10. Establish building codes by 2030 that provide very strong incentives for not using natural gas heating or coal generated electricity in areas of the county where ground source heating and solar electric are not feasible.

11. Adoption of a Climate Bill of Rights including the Rights of Nature, whether assumed to be legal or not by county attorneys.

12. Be willing to stand with the community and be arrested if necessary to demonstrate solidarity with Boulder County citizens who are protecting their health and safety.

I respectfully make these requests as a private citizen who is concerned about the activities of the oil and gas industry and the proven harm its operations do to public health and safety and the environment. I would encourage the commissioners to take a more proactive stand against the oil and gas industry and to question any legal advice that claims the above items are not enforceable or are illegal. We are all morally bound to disobey unjust laws, and I ask you to be morally strong and show courage and leadership to the citizens of Boulder County.

Jim Wilson/Longmont