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

The bigger land swap picture

Dear Editors,

I’ll be honest, I love to hate golf courses as much as the next guy. But this has gone too far. The debate on the proposed Hermosa/Mitchell Lakes Land Exchange (a.k.a. Haviland or Chris Park Land Swap) has been completely bogged down by uninformed arguments. In this case, the self-righteous vilification of developers and unrealistic demands on the Forest Service have been truly counterproductive.

In an ideal world, we could preserve all the parcels in the proposed land swap, but that is simply not the reality. So, enough with the arguments that consider only the value of one parcel and not the value of the others.

I am asking the community that is passionate about our lands to consider the full picture and to be fair. If you want to be part of this public debate about our public lands, it is your responsibility to do the following:

- Consider the value of ALL the parcels when evaluating the net cost and benefits of the proposed land swap. This includes the Chris Park, Hermosa Park, Mitchell Lakes and Iron Clad parcels.

- Look at the data: http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/sanjuan/projects/projects.shtml. Call the Forest Service with questions. Go hike around. Inform yourself.

- Consider the ecological value and natural resources, not just human values (remember, it’s the Forest Service, not the Recreation Service). The Draft EIS breaks down each category of resource, making it easy to analyze and easy to dispel many of the rumors surrounding this proposal.

Be passionate AND be intelligent. Let’s get away from the hyperbolic editorial cartoons and one-sided accusations. It’s a complicated issue, treat it as such.

– Ryan Huggins,  Durango

Head in the tar sands

Dear Editors,

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, has proposed an amendment that would stop the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases from nonmobile sources. This would leave 70 percent of U.S. emissions completely unregulated, including industrial polluters and all coal plants. Too, she seeks to delay action on emissions for another year. Lisa either has her head in the (bad) tar sands or her hand in the corporate till, or both.

What we need from Congress is a strong energy/climate bill, based on science only. Otherwise, our future is bleak. Millions are already affected by and suffer from climate-altering pollution – reason enough to act wisely, and now! But we must also address lowering our consumption and population if any bill is to be effective.

The proposed Senate standard is too low for renewable electricity from clean sources, such as wind, solar, and biomass. It has many exemptions and loopholes that would undercut Colorado’s good, present state standards. We need 25 percent renewable electricity by 2025, and a requirement that payments made by utilities in lieu of meeting this standard be invested in renewable and efficiency projects - but NOT for subsidizing nuclear, coal or rebates.

Biomass crops require so much energy, land and water that they are not presently cost-effective, environmentally friendly or useful in reducing CO2. Fund the science before farmers but create sustainability standards for biomass so it can advance.

Nuclear power plants cannot be built and brought online fast enough to alleviate climate change and global warming, so funding them is useless and a waste of taxpayer dollars! Funding should go to much-cleaner, cheaper-to-make, faster-to-construct alternatives, like micro-power, including wind, solar, small hydro, co-generation of electricity and heat in buildings, and the most effective – energy efficiency! 

No plant has been ordered since 1977, as no company owning and operating one wants to be liable for accidents, insuring the plants or dealing with the dangerous wastes – leaving that largely to taxpayers. Ninety billion dollars just to open and operate the nation’s first nuclear waste dump is the Energy Department estimate – even if a state would take the waste. Nuclear power only exists and is competitive now because of massive taxpayer subsidies. We should not waste more on plants that aren’t clean and can’t be up and operating in time to slow or stop climate change!

Colorado is already a sacrifice area from uranium exploration, mining, milling and dumping of waste, yet we have no one qualified to inspect, monitor, or act on water, chemical, toxic pollution or illnesses. We have 3,000 abandoned uranium mines that are being ignored, while nationwide there are about 14,000. Regulation of this industry is very weak and protects the plant owners to our detriment. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not. The industry is poorly controlled. Taxpayers are not protected from financial risk if nuclear or advanced coal plants default on their loans – another waste of money for a poor power choice.

The House proposal for coal gives industry lobbyists exemptions from future limits for greenhouse gases coming from the dirtiest existing, oldest coal-fired power plants – a disaster for the planet! Industry already gets huge subsidies for coal that cannot be made clean. Funding should go to cleaner options. Older coal plants are extremely inefficient, expensive to maintain, more polluting and use more coal than newer ones. Any newer coal-fired power plant should be required to co-fire with natural gas, giving preference to gas. This would reduce outages and maintenance costs and be more cost-effective in reducing CO2 emissions. Plans to build new plants should be scrapped, as they will not be able to capture and store their CO2, thus continuing pollution and warming. We would be crazy to let this happen!

Emissions offsets and cap-and-trade both just make polluting legal!! The planet needs every source to reduce emissions. Given the seriousness and urgency of climate change, all companies should be reducing their own emissions. Better to auction off any emissions allowances, thus bringing in money for the development of more climate-friendly energy sources good for the environment and a clean economy. Oversight and transparency in setting prices on carbon emissions must be implemented also. Emission performance standards for new transmission facilities must be set to encourage clean production.

Scientist Amory Lovins, of the Snowmass Rocky Mt. Institute, advises to mine Detroit first. That is, greater efficiency and mileage from all vehicles would, along with energy efficiency in general, be the most effective, least damaging, least costly way to deal with climate change. Tell your senators and reps to fund renewables first for a growing, clean economy and planet.

All will fail if the House and Senate let energy “special interests” win again in Washington.

– Jan Holt, Durango


Dismissing ObamaCare

Dear Eds,

I’m confident that Bill Vana will read this and respond in next week’s paper.

First off, if health reform is so urgent, explain why it doesn’t kick in until 2013 after Obama’s out of office? Using your numbers, that means another 180,000 uninsured people will die before the bill is enacted. In as much as I cherry pick statistics to bolster my point of view, I can’t fault you for doing the same. How about explaining why Republican measures like proof of citizenship, tort reform and offering insurance plans across state lines are killed by the Dems? Wait a minute, Howard Dean (former chair of the Democrat Party) answered the question on tort reform when he said the Democrats are in the pocket of the trial lawyers. Several years ago, I worked very hard on behalf of several trade associations to get Congress to pass a bill that would allow trade associations to offer discounted health care insurance like SEIU and the AFL-CIO unions do for their members. We had broad support (including Ken Salazar) until the senator from New York, Hillary Clinton, claimed that there wasn’t enough coverage for women’s reproductive issues (read abortion) and turned Ken into her lap dog. So, co-ops have been shot down by the Dems already.

Medicare as it’s currently administrated is not the answer for a single-payer system. Last week, I got a flu shot for $25. It was a genuine hassle to get the provider to take cash instead of filling out all the paper work for a $7.50 medicare reimbursement! If Medicare is the basis for a single-payer system, where are the liberals on means testing? Explain to me why we have to wait four years before there’s a real effort to eliminate waste and fraud in Medicare? Don’t know where you’re cherry picking your numbers, but the only one that’s close to being accurate is the fact that 90 percnt of the American public wants change in the health-care system. However, ObamaCare has yet to crack the 50 percent approval rating according to all of the major polls. Interesting reach with this statement, “no one paying taxes should go broke keeping a loved one healthy and alive,” considering that the top 5 percent of wage earners pay the majority of taxes.

– Have a nice day, Dennis Pierce, Durango

P.S. I’m still trying to figure out if Shan Wells called me a racist two weeks ago.



In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows