Letters: 6/22/17

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Management needed on oil and gas

After the Firestone explosion, the Mead tank-battery blowup, the truck fire on south I-25, ad nauseam, it should have occurred to us that we in Colorado and most everywhere else are in thrall to the wrong industry.

The oil operators are drilling everywhere for the same reason we all drive everywhere — we have little choice. The hydrocarbon fluids firms know well that the low-hanging fruit is long gone; until their lenders get itchy, they will drill and pump and truck virtually without regard to markets. Their thinking is viciously simple: If they don’t extract and frack, someone else will.

Moreover, if they don’t buy a legislator or a regulator or two, someone else will. It is easy to visualize the State Capitol full of many who cower at the thunder generated by the apocalyptic pronouncements and lugubrious lobbying ploys to underpin their “plays.” All’s fair in love and war, and oil.

Instead of allowing ourselves to be rolled over, instead of buying into Eddie Chiles’ 1980s television commercial theme, “If you don’t have an oil well, get one!” we need to manage the actions of these land-rush snake-oil salesmen. That we still (think we) need copious quantities of energy may be an open question. The undeniable fact that there are already other means to get it is settled.

Over 918,000 people in the U.S. are employed in wind energy. Pretty strong stuff there. And as climate change wheels along down a slippery slope, it leaves behind stronger and more pervasive winds. Talk about a “play” on a conundrum.

What do the rape-ruin-run folks with the rigs and VOC vents and compressors leave for the “fortunate” few who earn royalties? Go ask one. Or two. Ask the folks in north Firestone. Why should we think the oil squeezers are unwilling to tell us where the flow lines and associated “infrastructure” might be? Has it occurred that maybe they don’t really know?

Not that long ago, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission regulated nuclear power plants by itself or through certain states. These “agreement states” (including Minnesota, following the famous Northern States environmental case) could regulate plants within their borders so long as their criteria and standards exceeded the federal ones. How we could use such a rule for oil and gas in Colorado.

Trouble is, the industry wails at such ideas, because (they say) they would be hard-pressed to remain aware of, and adhere to, differing regulatory regimes in various places. As if they don’t already do so.

Who believes the rules are identical in all 50 states? Yet drilling continues in roughly half of them. Poor dears. They have plenty of lawyers drawing up confidentiality agreements to silence those aggrieved by poisoned wells and the like, following monetary settlements for damages.

Are we to remain willing to sacrifice the health of our children in order to drive 70 miles every day, to this fast-feeder, or that activity? When do we take back our land, our air and our water? Not to mention our self-respect.

Gregory Iwan/Longmont

Gardner crafting health care behind closed doors

Republicans in the Senate are secretly crafting a repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). What has Senator Cory Gardner told the citizens of Colorado about this bill?


Why the secrecy? Why no open hearings? (The ACA had 100 open hearings.) Currently in Colorado, 175,964 citizens are enrolled in ACA plans for 2017. About 407,000 Coloradans obtained health insurance through expansion of Medicaid. Loveland Sunrise Clinic serves predominantly low-income citizens. Before ACA, 50 percent of their patients were uninsured; with ACA, just 25 percent are. Since 2010, Sunrise added 10,000 patients and 130 new jobs. Repeal of the ACA will result in huge losses to Colorado hospitals, especially the small rural hospitals. As a family physician for 35 years in rural hospitals, I have seen the devastating effects on families without health insurance, from delayed care, to no care, to bankruptcies and increased mortality. The amount of uncompensated care for Colorado hospitals went from $2.3 billion in 2009 to $1.1 billion in 2015. 

The American Health Care Act passed by the House does not cover millions of people with pre-existing conditions. Will Sen. Gardner stand up, along with the national organizations of family doctors, pediatricians, OB/GYNs and internists to demand that any new Senate bill:

1)  not increase the number of uninsured

2)  continue the Medicaid expansion

3)  continue affordable coverage for pre-existing conditions

4)  cover preventive services, psychiatric care, maternity care and substance abuse care

5)  continue premiums based upon income, not age

With so much at stake regarding the health care of Coloradans, Sen. Gardner, stop the secrecy and tell us just what you stand for.

Scott Johnson/Loveland

Automatic Voter Registration Act is good for democracy

Recently, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. Robert Brady (D-PA) introduced the Automatic Voter Registration Act. The League of Women Voters is proud to support legislation that enhances access for eligible voters in our elections and works to modernize our electoral system. This bill will improve the accuracy of voter records, cut down on costs and modernize outdated registration systems while supporting implementation in states across the country.

The League is a leader in voter registration efforts across the country. Expanding voter registration has been a principal goal of the League since its founding in the wake of the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, which gave women the right to vote. We are proud to see Congress embracing new technology that expands access to the ballot while still taking the necessary safeguards to secure personal information.

Please support the League’s efforts in Making Democracy Work for All and urge Congress to support this important legislation (S. 1353, H.R. 2876). For more information about our local League and its voter registration efforts, please visit our website at lwvbc.org.

Peggy Leech/League of Women Voters of Boulder County

Food choices affect the climate

Are you, too, fighting mad about Trump pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord? Then let’s fight back three times a day by adopting an eco-friendly plant-based diet.

Yes, our diet is pivotal. A 2010 United Nations report blames animal agriculture for 19 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, 38 percent of land use and 70 percent of global freshwater consumption.

Carbon dioxide is emitted by burning forests to create animal pastures and by fossil fuels combustion to operate farm machinery, trucks, factory farms and slaughterhouses. The more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are released from digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools, respectively.

In an environmentally sustainable world, vegetables, fruits and grains must replace meat and dairy products in our diet, just as fossil fuels are replaced by wind, solar and other pollution-free energy sources.

Stanley Silver/ Boulder