The lawsuit being brought against the Garfield County Commissioners by the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance and the Western Colorado Congress is a waste of county money, and a slap in the face to the people of Western Colorado.
The resolution adopted by the Garfield Board of County Commissioners in April reflects the views of most citizens of Garfield County, and indeed of the Western Slope. Oil shale is an incredible resource that has the potential to not only create hundreds of jobs and support this area economically the way few other industries can, but also to provide for America’s energy security and ensure a domestic supply of fuel for decades to come, providing the government stays out of the way.
Unfortunately, the government isn’t staying out of the way, recently releasing a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) that foolishly reduces the amount of land available for oil shale leasing and development to a handful of small, isolated, uneconomical plots, effectively keeping oil shale research, development and commercialization a dream only realized by other nations.
That this is being done at the behest of the radical environmentalist movement, whose lawsuit was settled by a friendly administration to create this devastating PEIS, just makes the whole episode even harder to stomach.
So now that the Garfield County commissioners have joined with the rest of the local governments in the region to stand up to this egregious act on the part of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the environmental fanatic groups are grasping at whatever straws they can find to shut them up, resorting to a lawsuit over what at worst was a clerical error. It’s a lawsuit that will tie up county resources that would be far better spent elsewhere.
Personally, I am more concerned that our elected officials in this region are doing their jobs and promoting the economic survival of their county than I am about making sure they waste time and public resources seeing that minute technical details are taken care of in the paperwork.
What a ridiculous waste of time and resources for a couple of extremist environmental groups to sue the Garfield Board of County Commissioners for doing their job and representing the interests of their county and constituents.
If there is any impropriety involved in the oil shale issue, it is with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which wasted millions of taxpayer dollars and violated several statutes in completely re-doing a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS), overturning the work and extensive community input of a few short years ago, and placing nearly all of the richest oil shale land off limits to development – all because of a friendly settlement with a few whiney, but well funded, environmental groups that sued over the outcome of that first PEIS.
Now, when the elected leaders of one of the counties most hurt by this unjustified reversal take measures to counter it, the greens head directly back to the courthouse to do what they do best – file frivolous lawsuits.
It is disgustingly obvious that the real motivation behind this legal action has nothing to do with any feigned concern over government transparency and Sunshine laws, and everything to do with extremist groups using the legal system to help push their anti-energy agenda on the rest of us.
Like usual, they know they can’t win in the court of public opinion. The people of the Western Slope overwhelmingly support the pursuit of energy development, including oil shale. So they abuse the legal system instead, aided and abetted by friendly ideologues in the federal government.
The real outrage is not whether the Garfield County commissioners did or did not break some minor technicality; it is in the manipulation of our system by the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance and Western Colorado Congress to further an agenda that is not in the interest of the Western Slope.
GOP pro-life rhetoric insists there is no anti-woman bias in either opposing abortion or opposing the definition of basic health care for women to include birth control, regardless of the religious beliefs of employers, insurance companies and direct health care providers on the subject. The GOP insists that this position is consistent with its value on personal, individual responsibility applied to the realm of sexual behavior.
Parents are solely responsible for their children – from the moment of conception through independence (when and if that occurs).
To enforce this responsibility, several states have made child abuse laws apply to pregnant women, with penalties for things like smoking or drinking while pregnant, and trying women on charges of manslaughter or even murder after failed suicide attempts resulting in miscarriage.
I wonder how these lawmakers would feel about the following modest proposal, in the interest of fairness, that would allow the equal application of law to the male parents?
Since the technology exists, why not mandate the immediate creation of a national identity database that would include a DNA sample, allowing every child to unerringly claim support from its father? No male could marry, enlist in the military, enroll in college, obtain a passport, open a bank account, purchase property or receive a paycheck without establishing that he is not in arrears in support of any and all children he sired. His credit history and rating would reflect his standing vis-a-vis child support all his life, and unmet obligations would have the same consequences as other debt default.
Am I just a cynic to think so, or would a pro-life, individual responsibility policy like this result in a sudden reversal of great magnitude? Would Republican men become the biggest supporters of Planned Parenthood, applying pressure on that organization to add reversible vasectomy services to its repertoire? A whole new category of insurance – unintended parenthood liability – might spring to life. Imagine the job creation potential of this new growth industry. And of course, health care for men would include male birth control, by definition.
Anybody want to do a poll?
The lawsuit claiming the Garfield County commissioners violated the Colorado Open Meetings Law may have merit, but shouldn’t be needed. And for anyone paying attention, it goes beyond politics, as claimed by a commissioner. Even the final decision to adopt a seemingly unpopular position has become a lesser issue.
The public entrusts commissioners to make decisions based on a full understanding of an issue, while putting aside personal politics. Politics can cut both ways when a commissioner’s decisions are perceived as politically motivated. Politics aside, what is important are the actions taken leading up to the decision.
The media reported that the position statement was discussed at the “secret” meeting, and following that meeting, the document was provided to oil and gas industry, in advance of public review. If true, then at face value this seems an inappropriate action. Worst, it appears to be collusion, and that’s a problem.
What’s truly at issue? Perceived unethical behavior and the value commissioners place on earning and maintaining public trust. Unfortunately, a commissioner’s suggestion to rescind the vote and take another would only amplify their recent behavior and create more mistrust.
More important is the commissions’ willingness to disclose some things. So I call on the commissioners to please tell us:
What was discussed in Utah that resulted in 400-plus pages of documents?
Was the position paper provided to oil and gas officials in advance of its public release? If so, who received it and why?
If provided in advance, and changes made as a result, what changes were made and why?
Ethical behavior and restoring public trust must take a front seat. The commissioners’ declaring they did nothing wrong and blaming it on politics insults this constituent’s intelligence. Let the people decide if an error in judgment was made or if the commissioners callously disrespected the trust we placed in them.
Let us decide if the errors are egregious enough to warrant action, most likely at the polls or in calls for resignations. Simply answer the questions. Then the citizens can start rebuilding trust, and the commission can start rebuilding a culture of ethical behavior.
As the big election approaches, we are starting to see our candidates posting yard signs and highway signs to encourage your vote. It has been brought to my attention now on a few occasions that there has been vandalism and removal of yard signs on both sides. This act is not only unethical, but an insult to the candidate that you do support.
Whether you are a Republican, Democrat or Independent, your power lies in your vote. May it be suggested that action is taken instead.
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