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

Health care hypocrisy

Dear Editors:

Finally, a senator points out the hypocrisy surrounding much of the debate over health-care reform.

The so-called public option is the type of health care elected officials, government workers, military retirees and veterans have for their families.

Sen. Durbin reminded the listener early this week that that Federal Employees Health Benefit Program administered by the federal government, setting minimum standards for the health insurance that they enjoy as individuals and want for their families is “all we’re asking for in this bill for families across America.”  

The military retiree benefits under TRICARE and the VA benefits for vets are similar – just not as good as the benefits that senators and representatives get for life.

Senator Durbin again: “If you think it’s a socialist plot and it’s wrong, for goodness sakes drop out of the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program. But if you think it’s good enough for your family, shouldn’t our health insurance be good enough for the rest of America? That’s what it gets down to. Why have this double standard?”

If we could just get all the Republican senators to preface their remarks on health care, with the following: “We don’t think the American people deserve the same heath care we get for us and our families and here is why … .”

How can “good enough for me, not good enough for you” be a rallying cry for quality health care?

The debate should always begin with what we as the American people value, rather than what it costs.

Call your representative at any level of government today, and ask them to put their heath care plan on their web site. It will be a lot harder for them to talk out ofboth sides of their mouth after doing that.  

– James Callard, via e-mail

Powering the people

Dear Editors:

Replying to the Soapbox letter “Something in the Water.”

Publicizing pollution and environmental issues is not only a right but a duty for concerned citizens. However I’d like to point out a few other facts. Unless we are willing to go back to hacking dirt with flint tools, most of our resources – metals, plastics, energy – come from mining. The food we eat is harvested using metal tractors that are powered by diesel fuel, to mention one example. Even if we switch to electric cars, the energy to create electricity comes from … coal plants. Heck, next time you go for a hike in the San Juans, remember who built the trails and roads into these mountains – miners.  

The oil and gas industry is not single-handedly polluting our environment. The methane that is seeping from the ground in our geographic vicinity is naturally occurring and comes from coal beds. The removal of water from domestic water wells takes hydrostatic pressure off the formations, which allows the methane gas to bubble to the surface. Drilling contributes some to the methane release but it is not the only culprit. The more houses, the more wells, you get the picture. The U.S. is lucky to have many resources including wind, solar, coal, gas and oil.

Much of the brown cloud and air quality issues come from coal-fired power plants producing electricity, not the oil and gas industry. I agree the mining corporations need to be monitored and regulated so the land is left the way they found it.  But sensationalizing and blame is not the way to go about it.

Yes, we desperately need to move to sustainable and renewable clean energy but it’s not going to happen overnight. Next time you travel to your favorite hiking trail, ski area or tundra, remember what is powering you. Next time you buy food, remember how it got to the store. Without the oil and gas industry, you would be eating very few tropical fruits, exotic vegetables, or Olathe sweet corn.  

– Ann Chernoff Allan, Hesperus

Visions of Lake Nighthorse

To the Editors:

Lake Nighthorse belongs to the residents of La Plata County and the people of the United States. After all, we the people paid $550 million for the Animas La Plata Project. Wouldn’t it be nice to get something in return? It is my understanding that only the water in the lake belongs to the three regional Indian tribes. How do we, the residents of Durango and surrounding La Plata County, wish to use this lake? I urge you to urge your county commissioners and perhaps state congress people to disallow gas-powered boats on this small lake.

Sen. Isgar made a deal with and accepted money from the gas and petroleum industry to build a boat ramp. The ramp has been completed and will be ready for use when the lake is ready to be opened to the public. This money to build the boat ramp, that was acquired by the efforts of the senator, came with strings attached, requiring that gas-powered water craft be given access to the lake. We, the people of La Plata County and the Four Corners area, should have a say – I have spoken with quite a few people who do not want sea-doos and wave runners and ski boats on this lake, many have agreed with me that we should vote to give the money back. The ramp could be named after the lone moose who lives in our area and the public could develop a new sport – skate boarding into Lake Nighthorse. In the winter when the ice is thick enough, we could ski down the ramp and with enough groomers make the ice into a large skating area.

My concern is not with boats per se. It is with the noise pollution and water pollution that gas-powered boats produce that I find troubling. I am hopeful that Lake Nighthorse and the surrounding land could be a wonderful recreation area that includes camping, fishing, water sports, canoeing, kayaking and sculling. Fishing boats with small electric motors could troll the waters without disturbing anyone. What a peaceful dream I have with regard to this beautiful lake and the amazing ridges that surround it?

– Mac Musick, Hesperus

Gambling at Wolf Creek Pass

Dear Editors,

On Feb. 17, Congressman Salazar held an informative Village at Wolf Creek panel discussion with representatives from government, business, environmental groups, Mr. McCombs and Mr. Jones, the developer. The Congressman’s goal was to get all the stakeholders together and find a path toward consensus so that the Village at Wolf Creek project could finally move forward.

There will be more meetings, but the vehicle for getting this project back on track appears to be an environmental impact study, fast tracked, while at the same time Congressman Salazar will start shepherding McCombs’ land swap legislation through Congress. Thereby, getting both completed and wasting no more time in getting shovels into the ground.

Everyone seemed clear on why we need this project. Our mountains are desperate for economic stimulus. Mr. McCombs was optimistic in assuring us that he would build a first-class luxury resort and provide local economic growth.

But, what services does this project provide? A luxury vacation getaway that requires rich people willing to spend a lot of money. But, there are limited rich folks, and most already have their retreats. As for the up-and-coming professionals, they have been taking serious financial hits and have become cautious with their money.

Panel member comments reflected an assumption that the status quo American business plan remains solid. I had to wonder: what’s that based on? What if our problems go deeper than getting back into the spending mode?

Look at economic indicators, something new and challenging is bearing down on America and the world. Our understanding of economic development is going to have to get smarter with an eye to sustainability, that is, nurturing the biosphere - which is, after all, our life support system.

There is reason for pessimism. For instance, an internet search revealed 23 luxury resorts gone bust, or close to it (see www.citizenschallenge.blogspot.com ). Some of these foreclosures have abandoned hulking, half-built rusting monuments to hubris. These foreclosures span exclusive places throughout the world, indicating the risk.

There’s more, from the CoStar Group, Commercial Real Estate Information Co., “Just how tough a year 2008 was on property-investment companies is evident in the fact that accountants for at least 15 firms issued ‘going concern’ doubts in their year-end annual reports filed with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission.”

Is this the economic climate for gambling away a pristine high-mountain watershed?

Also being ignored is the medical situation at VWC. This parcel is at 10,000 feet, higher than any other U.S. overnight resort. At 10,000 feet, our lungs absorb one-third the oxygen as at sea level. This alone creates a raft of potential medical, marketing, even ethical, perhaps liability questions since medical experts advise against lowlanders spending nights at that extreme altitude.

So hello, all you folks with the “No Pillage by the Village” bumper stickers. Our call to action has arrived! We have a rare, short-lived moment when thoughtful, reasoned arguments will be read. Each will carry some weight. Help pile the straws of reason upon this VWC camel. Decisions will be made in a matter of weeks that will set the course for the next years. If you have anything intelligent to say about why the Alberta Park area should remain unmolested, now is the time to speak up, you’ll be heard. Spread the word. And write or call Congressman Salazar plus others.

Perhaps ask: Why is Congressman Salazar trying to accommodate a new land swap anyway? Why is Mr. McCombs’ risky speculation more important than the public’s long-term needs? Why won’t Congressman Salazar take the lead and capitalize on this opportunity to recover the Alberta Park parcel and return this gem to its rightful protected fold? What about the altitude sickness situation?

– Sincerely, Peter Miesler, Durango



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