Cheap coal comes with heavy costs
To the editor,
We all make daily choices about our health; yet we have no choice when it comes to the air we breathe, the water we bathe in or the soil in which our food is grown. All are negatively affected by industry emissions.

Coal-fired power is responsible for over 50 percent of air pollution in the U.S., causing respiratory ailments such as asthma in children. Two new studies indicate poor air quality raises the chance of a heart attack by 5 percent and stroke by 34 percent within a few hours of exposure. Just a teaspoon of mercury deposited annually can contaminate a 20-acre lake; over 1,100 pounds of the heavy metal are emitted in Colorado every year. Limits set by the EPA on amounts of toxic mercury, arsenic and other pollutants emitted into the atmosphere are necessary for the protection of public health.

Fortunately, new rules require power plants to capture 90 percent of their mercury emissions.

This is good news for those of us who live downwind from two of the dirtiest power plants in the nation. Claims have been that upgrades to them are too expensive. We suffer from their emissions, yet reap none of the benefits. These plants do not reside in our state nor does our electricity come from them. They aren’t the only ones who refuse to upgrade. Four out of 10 plants have no emission controls. It is clear the industry will never achieve self-regulation.

However, it takes more than EPA rules to address the threat. It takes leadership at every level starting with the board of directors and ending with the president. Vote for protections not profits. The time has come to stop subsidizing the coal industry. The huge externalized costs of cheap, dirty energy are passed on for all of us to bear including, but not limited to, health costs. We must advance the transition from dirty coal to clean renewables because there is NOTHING more valuable than good health. It should be protected at all cost.
– Lissa Ray, Durango

Ode to Peter Grajirena
To the editor,
It has been almost a year ago that a fine Durango-Mancos artist, Peter Grajirena, passed. His works were 4 shown in Telluride and Santa Fe. He was a personal friend and fellow artist. This is a humble tribute to him.
Ode to Pete
(In memory of Peter V. Grajirena)
You painted on large canvases
In a small house,
In a small town.
I remember the stacked
Framed muslins and
Most of all,
That painting which was a
Tribute to Hart Crane,
A haunting Rothko-like work,
Eliciting a hint of light
Out of a dark, ultramarine abyss.
Your kindnesses are not forgotten:
How you opened your studio to my students,
How you helped to stretch canvases,
How you cared for animals
And celebrated a dog’s life.
Often, on summer evenings,
We would discuss the musings and
Paradoxes of an artist’s journey.
Today, I look out over snow-bent pines
And in my mind’s eye,
Picture you nervously brushing the canvas
To the steady, rhythmic, choral chants
Of Carmina Burana,
Creating and recreating
Of what the soul instructs,
Of what the soul summons!

– Burt Baldwin, Ignacio

Pointing out the real extremist
To the editor,
It is not hard to tell who the extremists are concerning the La Plata County Planning Commission. Shan Wells’ idiotic and classless cartoon from Feb. 23rd says it all.

– Bill Robertson, Durango

Young kids and condoms don’t mix
To the editor,
I am writing to voice my concern regarding business zoning allowances near a local elementary school.

The fact that the business known as The Fallen Angel, which carries adult novelties, lingerie, “costumes,” “toys” and DVDs, was allowed to relocate within a few blocks of Park Elementary School seems inappropriate enough. But when they advertise by placing a large eye-catching green sign on the sidewalk saying “Condoms on Sale” in bold print, I felt compelled to write.I think this business belongs back on N. Main.

– Sincerely, Elizabeth Somers, Durango

Just say ‘no’ to conservatism
To the reader,
I’ve been hearing that word again in the media, “Conservative.” Rick Santorum is a “staunch conservative” proud to stand next to the dying, Christian Right, as he desperately pulls the “family values” card. He’s proud to expand oil and gas exploration, removing all restrictions!
Obama, who plays the Conservative game, is proud of our “rugged individualism,” a phrase used by many presidents. I think Conservatives choose these kinds of phrases as a continued effort to keep the same old myths about freedom and military might alive.

The millionaires now obviously own the world, giving the poor people jobs. Jobs that ruin their health. Isn’t that handy? Then the pharmaceutical companies can sell poison drugs, to kill us some more. Don’t you think people crave meaning in their lives, and real connection with others, not just a factory, or drone job? Conservatives made up the 40-hour work week, leaving the average wage earner no financial freedom to advance.

Mitt Romney, a billionaire, also claims to be a Conservative, and believes America is the greatest nation in history. If he becomes president, he will have an “Army so big, nobody would think of messin’ with us.” That’s scary foreign policy.

Conservatives are bent on following their ideology based on the following principals: Every rugged individual for himself; use religion and birth-control issues to enslave woman; continue to dredge the earth for precious metals, in spite of the ecological devastation; keep your head in the sand about nuclear waste, war or any other unpleasant, impossible dilemma; give lip service to ecology and green energy; make profit above all else; and finally, talk a great line about family and values.

Let’s also not forget “competition.” America always has to be the best.

And despite all the anti-life, anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti- contraception philosophies, none of the Conservative nominees are anti-war, except Ron Paul. He is worth my vote for that ONE paramount issue.

Obama thinks our youth is looking forward to more factory and highway jobs, and if nothing else, they can join the Army! The Conservative Right will always be wrong about war! The human costs far out weigh the benefits, especially because our wars have been based on corrupt government interventions.

I would like to call a general strike by all women. Men need to get their hands off our legislative bodies, and women need to be heard in politics! No sex, no way!  Yeah, we’ll hold that aspirin between our legs, for as long as it takes. Just say no to Conservatism.
– Heather Snow, 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