Our county commissioners should be protecting our water, not wasting taxpayer funds to stump for oil companies. Yet on Dec. 4, the commissioners once again sided with the oil and gas industry, against the economic well-being of our county. (See the Post Independent’s story of Dec. 5.)Why our county commissioners are so determined to spend county staff time and money to challenge the BLM oil shale plan is a mystery. Garfield County should not waste taxpayers’ money on protests to the BLM so that companies can gamble on oil shale speculation and threaten our precious water supplies.The BLM’s plan for oil shale development has broad support in Colorado and should be finalized. It offers a sensible approach that still makes plenty (677,000 acres) of public lands in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming available for oil companies to continue their oil shale research, development and demonstration (RD&D) projects. There are currently six oil shale RD&D test sites on public lands and three new ones about to be added. Shell has also been working to develop oil shale on private lands for decades. These companies have yet to come up with a commercially viable process for extracting fuel from the rock called oil shale. The impacts an oil shale industry might have on our water supply remain unknown, but should give anyone pause. In contrast to the testimony given by our county attorney on Tuesday, the best estimates are that full-scale oil shale development could require as much as 123 billion gallons of water per year, enough for a population 46 times the size of Garfield County.Our commissioners would do better to focus on issues of today, and not chase after fleeting hopes of an oil shale industry. With global temperatures and sea levels rising at alarming rates, it would make more sense for our commissioners to look to the future and devote more effort to develop nonpolluting renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.Bob Millette and Maggie PedersenGlenwood Springs
At the Dec. 6 Glenwood Springs City Council meeting, I was not surprised that council voted for a resolution approving the Alternate 3 alignment for the Grand Avenue Bridge replacement. However, I was surprised at the comments of some of the council members. Stephen Bershenyi scolded the Citizens to Save Grand Avenue for not exercising leadership to get citizen agreement on a route for the relocation of Highway 82. A relocation of Highway 82 requires an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is a comparative evaluation of the practicality, performance, cost, social, economic and environmental impacts of all feasible routes (in addition to a no-action alternative). The “Preferred Alternative” will be determined by the EIS process, comparing all the feasible alternatives. It will not be decided by a vote of the public, although public input is an essential part of the EIS process. Since nearly everyone in the room agreed that a third route through town is or will be needed, and since an EIS is not cheap, the City Council needs to exercise the leadership to initiate the EIS process, which it should do immediately. Mr. Bershenyi also pointed out that 600 members of the community were not a majority of the 9,000-plus residents of Glenwood Springs, but it is very unlikely that a majority of the other 8,400 would not agree with the Citizens to Save Grand Avenue’s position. Later on he stated that the residents have been divided: One third wanted an alternate or to reroute Highway 82, one third didn’t want things to change, and one third wanted a new bridge. If only one third want a new bridge, that means two thirds don’t want a new bridge, so there is the answer to where the public stands. Todd Leahy expressed the opinion that the new bridge would enhance downtown and pedestrians would actually benefit from it. This in spite of steadily increasing numbers of cars and trucks approaching at speeds of up to 45 mph. It’s about as logical as balancing the budget by cutting taxes. I don’t know that I agree with Mr. Leahy’s ideas, but time will tell. John HainesGlenwood Springs
During the recent election I listened to several of the Garfield County commissioners in debates. My initial take was that they lacked vision other than turning Garfield County into a center for the production and use of hydrocarbon fuels. Lately they have taken aim at the BLM to prevent reducing the amount of oil shale leases in the county. Encana has a deal with a steel recycler to drill more wells.None of this activity changes the basic chemistry we are dealing with. The chemistry is simple. Burn oil, gas, coal, hydrocarbons and you get carbon dioxide in the air, which is warming the planet, changing the global ecosystem and the weather.Garfield County has 2,947 square miles all under the beautiful western sun and only 56,000 people. Sunlight bestows a whopping 12.2 trillion watt-hours per square mile per year. Even if we were at 18 percent efficiency in converting the solar energy to electricity, it seems we are set up perfectly to produce all the energy we need from this naturally abundant source without grinding up mountains, sending toxic chemicals into the ground, or building roads in the wilderness for heavy machinery.Germany set a world record in May of 22 gigawatts during their midday hour. On midday of Saturday, May 26, 2012, solar energy provided more than 40 percent of total electricity consumption in Germany.The Fukushima nuclear disaster kicked off a new solar renaissance in Japan. Large-scale solar projects in the country are materializing, and solar companies everywhere are making sure their Japan strategy is in place. In May this year, Japan took its last nuclear reactor off the grid.If we were really serious about the future for our children, the goal would be to make Garfield County the new Garden of Eden and use what is bestowed on us every day to grow crops, run our cars, heat our houses, cook our food and enjoy the blessings of this beautiful natural environment.I recommend that we begin the process. Establish a small team of physicists, designers and engineers and an operations team to begin the process.Tom RutledgeGlenwood Springs
A certain part of Congress behaves like a bitter spiteful mate. Imagine a couple with a child that went through a nasty divorce and decided that the child between them was the most important thing in their divided lives to think on. Now imagine the Democrats and Republicans deciding the middle class tax cuts are the most important piece of a complicated puzzle to build first on; this would be a beginning point to solving the rift that’s causing the stalemate on the “fiscal cliff” between both political parties. It would be like the child needing her divorced parents to see her as the most significant part of the present and future moments. The behavior and actions of the parents toward the child determines the future of the child.If that extreme part of the Congress continues to dig in their heels and take the middle class down with them, no one will win. It is my opinion that the extremists in Congress have lost their focus after the re-election of President Obama; Obamacare is no longer in danger, and cannot be used as a wedge issue. This, I believe has left many in Congress in a very disgruntled state. Like the child that needed her parents to overcome their bitterness, the middle class needs that part of Congress to overcome its arrogance.Alfred WaddellWest Dennis, Mass.
When you squeeze the top income earners, they don’t stick around to be taken to the cleaners. In England, the number of taxpayers falling into the higher income categories fell 60 percent. They left their country. The total number of millionaire tax filers went from 16,000 to 6,000. Their new tax was supposed to raise more than $3 billion in additional revenue. How can you blame them? If our president thinks it won’t happen here, he better think again. Let me simplify our debt crisis and relate it to your personal life. Our country is $16 trillion in debt. We have approximately 310 million legal citizens in the United States. Each and every citizen actually owes $51,612.90 ($16 trillion divided by 310 million people). Just the interest alone on this debt equals $1,858 per person per year ($51,612.90 x 0.035 interest rate). Divide $1,854 by 12 months to get $154.84 per person per month. That’s what each of us are responsible for each month in just paying off the interest on the loan, not the principle. For a family of 4 it costs $619.36 a month, again just to pay the interest on the loan. By 2016, when President Obama’s term is up and at his current spending rate, the national debt will increase 25 percent, topping off at $20 trillion or $774.20 per family of four per month. We have no right to squander the freedoms and property of future generations. Just think, if we didn’t have any debt, what life would be like? All that extra expendable income for whatever you want to buy. Try and relate this thought to your own everyday life. I’ve been trying to say that Obama and his kind want to bankrupt the country and install a socialist system that will make people totally dependent on the government. How does one control the masses? Keep them poor and dependent.Stan RacheskyGlenwood Springs
We are angry that the City Council has voted 100 percent in favor of this divisive plan to split our town by dumping traffic onto the middle of Grand Avenue, shutting down and rerouting streets that thousands of our population have used and enjoyed for decades. What are they thinking? The Glenwood Springs City Council has not considered what the people want. I am in favor of this city council honoring the people by putting this bridge proposal to a vote.My husband and I have lived here for 33 years. We have been against CDOT’s bridge plan since inception. What poor planning for the harmony of our beautiful town and its increasing traffic flow. We were depending on City Council to do the right thing and vote it down. We vote no. Please think again about what is best for this valley: a bypass.Sylvia and Buck LincolnGlenwood Springs
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Burning Mountain Park in New Castle will illuminate Saturday evening at the town’s Holiday Tree Lighting and Chili Cook-off between 5 and 7 p.m.