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Fracking out of focus

To the Editors,

The oil and gas industry’s latest attempt to dodge the disclosure bullet is through a website named “Frac Focus.” The website, launched last month, states that already 42 companies are participating in an effort to “…provide the public with objective information on hydraulic fracturing, the chemicals used, the purposes they serve and the means by which groundwater is protected.” While there is plenty of information on fracturing, the website falls short on the very issue of disclosure, of all things.

Frac Focus is voluntary, not mandatory, and simply maintains the status quo: companies can hide the chemicals used in their proprietary blends or secret fracking recipes under “Trade Secret” provisions.

In December 2003, a few months before the first, and highly controversial, EPA study on fracking was released, three companies signed a voluntary agreement with the EPA to stop using diesel fuel in coalbed methane gas wells. A Congressional investigation released this February has revealed that 32 million gallons of diesel fuel were used to frack wells in 19 states between 2005 and 2009.

That voluntary agreement was simply an attempt to throw the public a bone before the 2004 EPA study was released stating that fracking posed little to no risk to the environment. Today, we get a new version of an old trick. Frac Focus is another attempt to sidestep full disclosure and thwart passage of the federal FRAC Act which proposes to repeal the exemption of hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act and require the full public disclosure of the chemical constituents used drilling operations.

 Full disclosure, no exemptions.  

– Gwen Lachelt, Oil & Gas Accountability Project, Durango

Local all stars

Dear Editors,

Congratulations to Missy Erickson who was recently awarded one of the five spots on the Ryan Collegiate Bicycle All Star Team and to her Fort Lewis College teammates: Sarah Sturm, Lauren Catlin, Lauren Taylor, Kaila Hart and Tilly Field, who had such a fine showing at the National Bike Race in Wisconsin and to Jimmy Kight, their terrific coach.

– Sandra Mapel, Durango

An education in options

Dear Editors,

Uh oh. It looks like my fellow Leadership La Plata graduate, educator, and personal friend Tom Morrissey forgot to mention an important educational setting here in Durango in his letter last week: The Durango Adult Education Center. (That’s okay, Tom. I know we all want the same thing for our youth and young adults here in Durango and La Plata County – the best student-centered education we can provide.)

For those students who thrive in a more non-traditional setting (with more small group and one-on-one attention than other settings can provide), the GED (General Educational Development) diploma may be the way to go. By way of comparison, a full 40% of high school graduates are unable to pass the GED due to its academic rigor. The Durango Adult Education Center works closely with each student to ensure that those wishing to continue on to college receive the support they need; several graduates each year receive scholarships and extra tutoring to help them successfully transition to college-level academics.

We at the Durango Adult Education Center enjoy a strong working relationship with School District 9-R and other educational institutions in Durango. It’s only by working together that we can truly meet the myriad needs of La Plata County’s youth and young adults. For more information, contact 385-4354.

– Sincerely, Tim Birchard, Durango Adult Education Center


New energy for the future

To the Editors:

The increase in gasoline prices reflects the instability in the Middle East and attendant speculation in the oil markets. We need to address the huge run-up in oil prices with comprehensive policies designed to provide solutions to our energy consumption problems. Unfortunately, past administrations have failed us.

The Obama administration should continue to promote democracy in North Africa and the Middle East, and hopefully democratic reforms in these countries will provide some stability in the region and thereby help decrease speculation in the oil markets.

The U.S. has to increase domestic oil production, including oil derived from our Western U.S. oil shale and Alaskan oil deposits; build new refineries; build nuclear power plants meeting stringent U.S. specifications, including strict siting requirements; increase power production from natural gas and alternative energy sources, e.g. biomass, wind and solar; promote public transportation; and conserve energy in our homes, businesses, vehicles and in our travels. Another way to conserve gasoline consumption is to decrease the speed limits to 55 mph or 60 mph on our expressways, and we have to enforce these limits. Unfortunately many states have increased speed limits to between 70 mph and 85 mph. Some studies have shown going from 75 mph to 55 mph will reduce gasoline consumption by 33 percent.

U.S. nuclear plants should be designed to withstand a 9.0 earthquake, tornadoes, category 5 hurricanes and floods, and have battery and diesel generator back-up to provide power to coolant water for at least one month. Existing plants can only withstand a 7.5 earthquake and have four hours battery back-up; and spent fuel rods are currently stored on site. A reprocessing system must be established to neutralize or reuse these fuel rods.

We need the Obama administration to provide some leadership and implement a comprehensive energy strategy.

– Donald A. Moskowitz, via email


Told you so

Dear Editors,

Hopefully this “I told you so” letter gets printed. If you are able to comprehend chronological and sequential milestones derived from repetitious positive or negative sub-events, then the news that Tea Party politics will cause the Republican Party, the mouthpiece of large corporate America, significant losses in 2012 will not come as a surprise, and I can proudly say I told you so! But you will need to wait or just follow the often-obvious Republican self-destruct milestones.

The 2012 results shall cause significant re-examination of right-wing entrenched unpopular ideologies in fringes of true Republicanism. The often racist rooted, irrational talking points repeatedly broadcast and preached to minority party right-wingers but deafening for the rest of us. They simply do not understand that they are against mainstream America wishes. They incite themselves with irrational arguments and causes. How I wish President Eisenhower were a candidate, we all loved him.

– Edgar Towers, via email



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