Our letters section and your opportunity to weigh in and be heard. Send us your thoughts and profundities. You can contact us here.

A healthy solution

Dear Editors: 

It is way past time for the U.S. to have a system with the money, morals and heart to work. It could be eased into by a gradual lowering of the Medicare age, with no sudden disruptions. Single Payer is the only choice that makes financial and humanitarian sense. At the very least we must have a very strong public option that can withstand the efforts of for-profit insurance companies to weaken and kill it in coming years.

 Taxpayers could save between $224 and $400 billion over 10 years by lowering the cost of proposed subsidies for the uninsured, while still offering private coverage for most others. And, it is not necessary to turn a profit. Single Payer would make universal, comprehensive coverage affordable by diverting hundreds of billions of dollars each year from bureaucracy to patients. It would greatly reduce expensive emergency room visits by the uninsured or underinsured, which we pay for anyway, and instead bring cheaper preventative care, saving even more money and suffering.

It would allow doctor choice but not deny coverage because of a present, past or future illness. All money would be pooled, providing adequate funding for all of us. We would no longer fund insurance CEOs’ second homes, or their lawyers paid to deny treatment, or bonuses for living off the sick, that is, not paying for your illness.

Presently, we have uncaring, greedy, insurance and drug company CEOs and shareholders intent on profits only, denying their fellow citizens, not just Single Payer  care, but even the choice of any government option.

Meanwhile, stories abound about hardworking individuals, poor and rich, now bankrupt because of health problems. Families become homeless and life a constant stress about money, health and the future. This is bad for them and the economy. Why does the great U.S. of A. condone this?

Politicians, rich from huge insurance and drug company campaign contributions over the years, lie shamelessly about government insurance being a disaster – as if the present system isn’t one already. My insurance has a very high deductible, exclusions for a pre-existing conditions, and high premiums and out-of-pocket. If I become seriously ill, I have little faith that my company will pay.

And finally - to every politician - I have quietly attended meetings and events on health care beginning with the Clinton administration, without screaming at anyone or being rude. Please, please do not assume that the rudeness and shouting from opponents of reform feel more strongly than I about this issue.

– Sincerely, Jan Holt, Durango

Farewell to Durango

Dear Editors,

It is time to say goodbye to Durango. We have spent the last 16 months here enjoying the scenery and wildlife. Durango has been listed in the top 10 of just about every type of award a city/town can get. I personally spent 30 years of my vacations coming here to enjoy the same things I still enjoy.

The one thing I can not understand is the way some of the people here in Durango either just take it for granted or do not like it here, period. They live in houses that are completely neglected, paint is optional, junk is standard decoration and they grow weeds instead of grass. If you travel down a sidewalk in the city, you will always need to duck or walk off course to dodge the weeds or tree outgrowth. The city even tries to outdo the home owners with their collection of exotic 12-inch high clover and assorted weeds growing around Durango’s showcase library building.

When people do go out into the country to enjoy the scenery Durango is famous for, they are met with drivers that are not interested in the view but how fast and rude they can be as they fly down the narrow road as if they are the only one there or that it is their private country lane. They run cars, trucks, cyclists, runners and even walkers off the road. I have met dozens upon dozens of people here who never go up the valley to see the view that brings people here and makes the train ride the best in the country.

Durango wants to have meetings on where to put a graffiti wall. Why bother having a meeting to figure this out? They already exist: the back of the fairgrounds and the 32nd St. bridge are working great already.

I guess it is just me that thinks the people here should take pride in the place they live (many do, but most do not). Most people just get to dream about coming here and enjoying the view or riding the train for a few days out of their short lives if everything comes together and they get a vacation.

Durango needs to figure out how to increase the friendliness of its residents and how to get them to take pride in their town. I do not have the answer, and I will not be here to help, but I hope they can find a way before the complacent and rude people here ruin it for everyone. I will probably never return to see if Durango manages to recapture its wonderful past and remains in the top 10 of every possible award, but I truly hope it does. Goodbye Durango!

– Terry Akins, Durango


Strategic ignorance

Dear Editors,

At the July 14 business meeting, Commissioner Hotter made a very peculiar remark regarding risk. She asserted that the county builds highways knowing there is a risk that someone will be killed on them; she was making an analogy to the county accepting risk of the use of toxic fracing fluids that can kill citizens, make them sick, destroy their property values by contaminating their water or create another Superfund site in La Plata County.

When a citizen drives on a county road, he makes a voluntarily choice and understands the risks.  When Commissioners Hotter and Riddle decide that they do not want to know, or give citizens knowledge about, the risk of toxic fracing fluids, there is no individual citizen choice or knowledge. Nor is there individual citizen choice re: well drilling decisions or decisions that don’t require the gas companies to use nontoxic fracing fluids used in some other Colorado counties.

Aug. 14, the EPA confirmed that a Superfund investigation of the wells in the Pavillion, Wyo., area found the presence of 2-butoxyethanol (2-BE), a known constituent of hydraulic fracturing fluids. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality and gas drilling company EnCana had continually assured Pavillion residents that there was no evidence of hydrocarbons or toxic chemicals in their drinking water wells. Maybe strategic ignorance is a virus that afflicts oil and gas employees and their lackeys. Maybe the gas industry just didn’t hear about the toxic fracing fluids in the wells in Sublette County, Wyo., or in Silt, Colo. Strange how Gov. Ritter doesn’t want that mercury stored in the state. He has been assured it is safe; however, he and Rep. Salazar are OK with prolonged human health experimentation, using toxic fracing fluids on Colorado citizens. Follow the money. Or follow DeGette.

Residents of Pavillion have been experiencing miscarriages, rare cancers, central nervous system disorders, seizures and liver disease. All of these are documented as health effects of 2-BE. You know your driving risks. Do you know your drinking (water) and groundwater contamination risks?

– Christine Eleanor Anderson, Vallecito


Another industry take on fracing

To the Editors,

I am always entertained, to say the least, by the article written by Will Sands – “Closing the Halliburton Loophole - Groups, scientists push for drilling disclosure.” The blatant lies and misstatements presented are at best pseudo factual. If people were to actually believe what is said, it would be a clear indication of their blatant lack of understanding of the myriad of regulations currently in place through the numerous government agencies. Government agencies such as La Plata County, State of Colorado (COGCC, Dept of Health, Dept of Labor, etc.), Federal Agencies (BLM, BIA, OSHA, Dept. of Transportation, EPA, etc.) all have staggering volumes of rules, standards and regulations that do pertain to Mr. Sands’ article which he, for some reason, chose to ignore.

Those of us that work or have worked within the oil & gas industry (or have a reasonable education) and are familiar with both all of the rules and regulations enforced by the numerous agencies listed above and the science behind the activities mentioned in the article would tend to wonder why people don’t realize how flawed the diatribe is. The very first paragraph has more to do with wells that were drilled in the early 1900s and never abandoned properly to begin with than current active wells. If Shirley McNail has an issue, there is a state agency in New Mexico called the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division (http: //www.emnrd.state.nm.us/ocd/index.htm), strangely enough with an office in Aztec that would love to help with her problem if indeed there really is a problem (all very conscientious, hard-working people).

The third paragraph states “The unknowns of oil and gas drilling are presenting increasing concerns for conservationists and scientists throughout the region.” Most reasonable, well-educated, technical professionals, many with PhDs in things such as geology, petroleum engineering, chemistry and chemical engineering, would tell you that if you’ve drilled tens of thousands of wells into fairly well-known geologic provinces, you reasonably well understand what you are doing and how you go about it.

The seventh paragraph states “‘All along we’ve been told that companies only use guar gum, soap and water for drilling,’” Colborn said. “‘In fact, there are hundreds of chemicals being used for drilling, and many of them are not safe.’” All chemicals used on location must be transported and regulated in many various forms from the manufacturer to the actual well location. Surely the standards that OSHA and the DOT require labeling and MSDS sheets (and all that handle the chemicals must surely be OSHA and DOT trained) on anything and everything brought from the manufacturer to the location through the entire chain of custody and transportation?

However, the biggest misstatement that I find the most entertaining is “Most significant of all, Colborn noted, is that drilling companies are not regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency and are not required to disclose the chemical recipes in use,” and “‘There’s no way we can get the information on what’s actually being used,’” Colborn said. “‘This is the problem, and for most people it comes as a big surprise.’” Perhaps Mr. Sands should go out and research just what it takes to get a permit to drill a disposal well from the EPA, which is used to safely dispose of any and all produced and frac water from a well. I suspect if one were to employ google to ascertain what chemicals are used they could readily find out, not to mention the other regulatory agencies involved in the whole process.

In the end, what is most scary is due to Mr. Sands either blatant lies or shear ignorance he is in favor of more rules and regulations. Perhaps the next time he shares such an inflammatory, lie-filled diatribe, he should research out the facts and rules that currently exist on our books as a society, a county, a state and a nation. Also keep in mind there are thousands of very high-trained, skilled professionals all around the Four Corners area that safely and happily work within those conditions, rules and regulations every day. Who knows, maybe one of them could help you to understand what really goes on out there in the giant gas field that exists all around those of us that choose to live here. The bottom line is the information is readily abundant to anyone who wants to find out. Beware of the ignorant diatribes, for I sense (know) he is clearly mistaken and the REAL question is why and what’s his REAL agenda?

I sincerely challenge the wonderful DurangoTelegraph to please publish my response and seriously ask the question is there another side to this story that too can be entertaining and informative in the classic form Benjamin Franklin so very well utilized so many years ago.

– Most Sincerely, Sue Lin Woo, via email


Looking forward fiscally

To the Editor,

Colorado is facing a $384 million budget shortfall this fiscal year. It is expected that our General Fund revenues will drop to 3.2 percent of the overall state economy, a figure that is 24 percent below the average for the last 28 years. Gov. Bill Ritter has asked all state departments to submit proposals for a 10 percent reduction to their budgets. These proposed cuts were sent to the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee on Aug. 24. 

The League of Women Voters of La Plata County (LWVLPC) has invited Carol Hedges, senior fiscal analyst with the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, on a speaking tour of Southwest Colorado. Carol is a recognized expert on the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), and conducted research for the recent report Looking Forward: Colorado’s Fiscal Prospects Amid a Financial Crisis (http: //www.thebell.org/node/3353). Carol will discuss Colorado’s fiscal crisis, proposed cuts and possible solutions at a forum, co-sponsored by the City of Durango, on Tues., Sept. 1, at 7 p.m. in the Durango Public Library, Program Room 1. Bring your questions and find out how this predicament may affect your family and La Plata County.  

– Stephanie Huss, president, League of Women Voters of La Plata County