Friday letters: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, New Castle P&Z, and Capitol terrorists
As a longtime local and advocate for wildlife and wild places, I even had the privilege during the Obama administration of going to Washington, D.C., to lobby on behalf of protecting forever the Endangered Species Act. Like many, I have been dismayed about the Trump administration’s numerous attacks on the ESA, our wildlife and our national parks and monuments. Right now, I am angry about the current rushed and behind-the-scenes sabotage of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Did you know that the Trump administration has rushed to sell parts of the coastal plain of the Arctic National Refuge to oil and gas development? In fact, the illegal lease sale was held Jan. 6, which was a date way before usual protocol allowing input from citizens and other analyses. The result of the lease sale was pathetic — Congress vowed to generate $1.8 billion from the lease sale and only $14.4 million was generated, or less than 1% of what was promised.
It is just wrong to turn the Arctic coastal plain, an area totally unsuitable for oil and gas development, into an industrialized wasteland — this is a major anti-environmental effort in the closing days of the current administration. The Arctic Refuge is one of the last huge and intact landscapes in America. It is home to unique and diverse wildlife, which have adapted to life on those frozen shores. These include musk oxen, wolves, grizzly bears, arctic fox, lemmings and over 200 species of migratory birds. Please understand that 75% of this area is critical habitat under the ESA for polar bears. It provides on-shore denning for the threatened Southern Beaufort Sea polar bears. Industrial activity, traffic and humans there could destroy dens and cause abandonment of cubs. This is only one example of the devastation that drilling on the Arctic Refuge coastal plain would cause to wildlife.
The area is also spiritually and culturally important to the native communities. The indigenous Gwich’in are all opposed to drilling. Urge Congress and President-elect Joe Biden to protect the Arctic Refuge, please.
As I watched the New Castle Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Wednesday, my heart sank. On a 6-1 vote, commissioners approved an application for an 85-unit development on just 13 acres to be built next to existing single-family homes, with little regard for the effect of that development on residents and adjacent homeowners.
This development, the largest in over a decade, was voted down 7-0 by the same commissioners in May, then returned to the commission on a 5-2 vote by the Town Council for reconsideration. Since that time, few significant changes to the original application have been made. Issues still concerning citizens include inadequate buffers between existing homes, inadequate parking, no wildlife corridors, unusable land fronting the main road or in the drainage area accepted as open space, no attention paid to multi-use zoning in the involved parcels, no updated water study or evacuation plan in case of a wildfire, little attention paid to traffic flow or pedestrians safely crossing heavily-used Castle Valley Boulevard, and no real attempt to minimize lost property values that the town’s own report acknowledges.
The developer, CVR Investors from Castle Rock, owns 120 acres bought for pennies on the dollar, and I believe could address these concerns but chose instead to build tightly packed units to maximize profits (grossing over $30 million), and the town acquiesced. This development is destined to repeat the same mistakes recognized by residents in an existing multi-unit development by CVR. Over 70 residents signed a letter in May asking the town to adhere to its own comprehensive plan, which places a high value on open space and recreational opportunities, and many have continued to ask the town to develop responsibly and in a way that makes New Castle a good place to live. How ironic that the New Castle website declares that the town values civic engagement. This decision says otherwise. The town appeased the developer, and by doing so wasted an opportunity for valued development and a nice neighborhood.
DNA test Capitol terrorists
Here’s an idea that I’m sure will get some interesting comments from both sides of the debate.
In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police can take DNA samples from anybody under arrest for any crimes, regardless of whether DNA is relevant to their arrest. The Supreme Court’s ruling said that DNA swabs were more like fingerprinting and photographing than like searching, therefore a search warrant is not needed, and it is not an invasion of privacy.
Let’s swab all the domestic terrorists arrested for the Capitol invasion. After they are convicted as terrorists and sent to Guantanamo Bay detention camp, we test their sample. Next, we do a ancestry report, and show the white supremacists, Proud Boys, Neo-Nazis and other hate groups that we and they are all a mixture of cultures, nationalities, races or other ethnic groups.
Hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign entire classes of people, typically for their immutable racial characteristics. They assume they do not have any of those characteristics.
What would they say if it could be proved without a doubt that they are not “white” or “pure” but have black, native American, Jewish or other ethnic or racial blood? How could they defend their purity if the fact is they are not “pure”?
I’m sure there would be an outpouring of funds to cover the testing costs if we had a process to release the results to those domestic terrorist organizations and their members. Would Proud Boys then have to be called Proud Melting Pot Boys?
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