Time to clean up our own mess
To the editor,
It’s been amazing to read all the letters containing excuses about why we shouldn’t pass a ban on plastic bags. In the air, soil and water there are toxic chemicals that we have put there, grocery store shelves hold food full of man-made substances that aren’t healthy to eat. Landfills, overflowing with packaging from “convenience-foods” emit ever more greenhouse gases. We carry purchases home in a plastic bag that we use once and toss in the garbage while the rest of the environment pays the price.

We are apparently too dumb to get it that an environment full of toxic chemicals eventually means our bodies will be filled with the same stuff. Apparently we don’t understand – because we can’t or we won’t – that yes, all that stuff is making us sick regardless of how many corporate-owned “scientific” studies say it isn’t. How many times have we been assured something was safe only to find out later that it wasn’t?

Instead, we keep making excuses of every variety about why we should be allowed to continue the very behavior that is harming us. Do we teach our children to trash the place and then not take one shred of responsibility for cleaning it up? If your child makes a mess in your house, do you tell him or her “Just pretend you don’t see it because it will cost you too much time and energy to clean it up?” Perhaps those city councilors and residents who think plastic bags are not a problem won’t mind having everyone’s throw-aways in their yard.

How hard could it be to become the stand-up generation that actually takes the initiative to fix things? How hard could it be to exhibit the leadership to clean up our own garbage? How hard could it be to care enough about our nation to do what is right instead of what’s easy? How hard could it be to take a very small step toward stewardship and get a re-useable bag or pay for a plastic one? I urge the City Council to pass the bag-ban.

– Rebecca Koeppen, Ignacio

McLachlan values education
To the editor,
I recently wrote a letter to the editor criticizing J. Paul Brown for voting against a bill to protect the homeless youth of Colorado, a vote he defended by saying “politicians keep expanding the government to buy votes.” Protecting at-risk youth isn’t simply trying to “buy votes.” Taking action to protect children is a worthy cause that everyone can rally around; the Colorado State House passed the bill 64-1 against Brown’s objections.  However, Brown’s refusal to help children doesn’t end; he voted against Senate Bill 11-177 which extended the Teen Pregnancy and Dropout Program, a program to help teens avoid pregnancies and stay in school.

I am a senior in high school. At my age, there are plenty of distractions, and a strong support system is everything. By voting against extending this program, Brown voted to remove what could be the only support for many at-risk teens. Keeping our population well-educated and well-supported is one of the main roles of government, and it is especially important in the current economic climate. Without a well-educated and well-trained populace, our country will not keep up with China or India.

Staying in school is imperative. Statistics from the government show that by simply getting a high school diploma, the average person increases their earning potential by up to $1 million. However, for many kids, this cannot happen without a support system that helps them overcome challenges in life. Once again, J. Paul Brown’s radical ideology failed his constituency.

Mike McLachlan, Brown’s opponent, understands the need for children to stay in school. Both of his children graduated from Durango High School and have or will graduate from state universities. His wife, Barbara, has taught at Durango High School for 20 years and was named the 2012 Teacher of the Year. Please join me in supporting Mike McLachlan and bringing common sense back to House District 59.

– Ben Marvin-Vanderryn, Durango

Vote out Tipton’s toxic ideology
To the Editor:
Anyone remember the Summitville Disaster? The people of Rio Grande County do. Twenty years ago, the Canadian mining operation at Summitville declared bankruptcy and walked off, leaving a moonscape with piles of cyanide-treated rubble draining acidic, mineral and cyanide laden water into streams and groundwater, rendering the Alamosa River lifeless and the downstream users and well owners out of luck.

Two-hundred and fifty million taxpayer dollars later, the site is somewhat remediated. A $16 million water treatment plant provided by the 2009 stimulus is allowing the river to recover, a process the EPA estimates will require 100 years. The mining company paid not one penny of the $250 million in gold it extracted to the citizens of the United States, thanks to the archaic mining law of 1872. Under this law, mining proposals cannot be denied, and provisions of the Clean Water Act do not apply. Some environmental review does remain in the permitting process.

Now comes HR 4402, masquerading as a “strategic and critical minerals” (like sand and gravel) bill, it effectively eliminates environmental review and greatly limits recourse of any mining- impacted communities. Scott Tipton sponsored this bill. Why? The environment should not stand in the way of private profit. This is progress, and those downstream users should know that.

An amendment was offered to the bill that would provide for a small royalty, the proceeds to be set aside for the cost of future inevitable cleanups. Scott Tipton voted no. Why? Privatize the profit and socialize the damage. Gummint is bad; I signed Grover Norquist’s pledge to starve the beast, and The National Mining Association has been good to me.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a congressman who represents his constituents instead of his extreme ideology? Sal Pace will represent the people of the Third Congressional District with moderation and rational thought, not ideology. Get acquainted at paceforcolorado.com

– Christopher Isensee, Durango

Unplug, tune in when using trails
To the editor,
In the past couple years, I’ve noticed a slightly upsetting trend among people and their iPods or MP3 players. More and more people are constantly “plugging in.” It’s become a norm to walk around with headphones and tune out the world around you.

Nowhere do I find this trend more upsetting then on the trails around Durango. People are tuning into their favorite music rather then absorbing their surrounding fully. So for all users of our wonderful local trails I have a polite request: unplug and listen while you’re on the trails. Hear the leaves and the birds, hear your breath and your footsteps, take a minute and tune into a different station: the nature station.

And for those who love their background noise too much to surrender their headphones, do us mountain bikers a favor, only listen with one ear in, so when we come ripping down a trail, you can hear when we’re asking you to move. Thanks!

– Casey Rhea, Durango

Romney a thin guise for Dubya 2.0
Dear Editors,
I’ve just figured out the real reason for Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s sporadic behavior. He’s actually an Avatar. No really, this makes sense. If you didn’t see the movie “Avatar,” it’s simple. An avatar is a biological vessel that can be inhabited and controlled by the mind of the “occupant.” This is probably some sort of final test drive by the NSA or CIA.

In Mitt Romney’s case, it seems he’s been driven by a wide variety of well known conservative players, most recently, George W. Bush. Apparently, all it takes to drive the Mitt Machine is money, lust for power or political desperation. This explains why we didn’t see Bush at Mitt’s convention or on the campaign trail. It seems the GOP felt that Bush needed a third term and so now it’s his turn in the Avatar Mitt. Remember “corporations are people” or “I enjoy being able to fire people” and my favorite “I’m not concerned about the very poor?” That’s sooo Bush, but only the handsome Mitt could make such outrageous statements really fire up the Republican crowd when campaigning.

Romney’s claim that cutting taxes for the rich would promote job and economic growth while reducing the deficit is just as false, as it so clearly was under Bush, but nearly word-for-word a Bush statement. Don’t forget, the Bush tax cuts did in fact blow a $2.5-trillion hole in the federal budget. Romney’s tax cuts are even more expensive, clocking in at a cost of more than $10.7 trillion over the next decade and reducing revenue to a paltry 15 percent of GDP. Just like under Bush, the same policy would achieve the same results. I don’t quite understand why the GOP thinks that deficits are good for America, but obviously they do. And they’re great at creating them.

The Neocons, when choosing to put Bush behind the controls of the Mitt Machine, felt his foreign policy strategery just needed more time. That’s why Avatar Mitt has chosen the heart of Bush’s old foreign policy people, and quite a hawkish list it is: John Bolton (once suggested a nuclear attack against Iran); Eliot Cohen (Dick Cheney’s advisor, pushed hard for the Iraq war and pushing hard now for a war with Iran); Michael Haden (one of the most vigorous defenders of torture); and Max Boot (called for “America to embrace its imperial role,” staying in Afghanistan, invading Syria and bombing Iran). I’m guessing that just the face of George W. Bush is so politically toxic as to turn away the electorate, but the same ideas coming from Mitt Romney? These will sell.

The Mitt Romney presidential model Avatar is essentially Dubya 2.0; more tax cuts for the rich, more war and more debt but with a great smile! So, if you’re one of those people who miss the good ole Bush years, you’ll get another chance by voting for Bush’s Avatar, Mitt Romney.

– Bill Vana, Durango

Let your voice be heard on lease
To the editor,
Durango and this entire region has always been tied to the special resources that lie below the ground. However, a new process to extract a liquid geologic gem has significant potential to make people sick both from both radioactive dust and contaminated water. The nation’s energy crisis has come home to Durango. Combine fracking with the United States’ desire to be energy self-sufficient, and we have a problem on our hands. Does our town want to know what the oil and gas industry is capable of doing? For a video explanation of what may be coming to our special town, go to youtube.com and search: “Marcellus Shale.”

Recently, the BLM opened for lease 12,000 acres for oil and gas exploration in our region; most of it near Hesperus. Don’t be fooled! There is plenty of land close to Durango that can be opened up with only 45 days notice! Unless concerned citizens and residents of La Plata and Montezuma counties come forward and make their opinions known – right now – then we will have what happened on the East Coast happening right here, in our precious Durango.
Please take the time to e-mail the BLM at: tres_rios_lease_sale@blm.gov. Please reference Hesperus Parcels: 6433, 6434, 6447, 6448, 6449, 6450, and 5452. An instant letter can be sent via: http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-fracking-sw-colorado . We have until Tues., Oct. 2, to comment.

Until the government is able to create specific regulations that put human health before the profits of oil and gas companies, we need to stand up as a community and let our voices be heard.

– Anne Marie Greenberg, Durango