Monday letters: Air quality, BLM, West Glenwood overcrowding, Trump and COVID, Glenwood airport, COGCC rules, and census
Protect public health and air quality
Want something you can do today to help fight the wildfires? Volunteer for the Red Cross, heed the advice of the Sheriff’s Office, continue wearing a mask and social distancing.
Something else you could do, arguably more important for preventing future wildfires, is to take two minutes and write our state regulators and urge them to adopt the strongest rules possible protecting public health and air quality.
Not many Coloradans know the state passed two laws last year vital for ending our dependence on the fossil fuel energy polluting our skies and raising summer temperatures, increasing the risk of record wildfires.
SB-181 “prioritizes public health and safety and the environment” when it comes to regulating the oil and gas industry. And HB-1261 sets targets for the state to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26% in 5 years and 50% in 10 years.
The Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and Air Quality Control Commission are currently writing the rules for how to carry out these laws. Indeed, the AQCC missed its July 1 deadline by which it had to publish its plan.
Write the COGCC today and urge them to cease issuing new oil and gas leases. It is irresponsible during a pandemic and now, while our skies are choked with smoke, to be allowing new oil and gas rigs to spew nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and methane into the air.
Urge the COGCC to require oil and gas companies to monitor for and seal methane leaks. Methane is 84 times as potent a heat-trapping gas as CO2. Scientists are detecting a “surge” of “fugitive” methane escaping from fracking operations that could erase any gains we are making in curbing CO2.
And write the AQCC and urge them to get serious about meeting their goals to cut planet-warming gases that are worsening wildfires and diminishing our water supplies.
350 Roaring Fork
Don’t tell BLM how to do their job
As with any dispute involving the interpretation of federal mining laws and their application to the disposition of a conflict, such as the Mid-Continent Quarry case, there are often differing views of the specific facts and the interpretation of how federal agencies apply the law. In a recent guest column, Harris Sherman stated his view of the facts and his legal analysis on behalf of his clients. Some Post Independent readers with passion for analyzing RMI’s activities may be persuaded by Mr. Sherman’s analysis, but in the end, it simply is not relevant. It is the analysis and decision of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that matters.
The Colorado Mining Association encourages the Post Independent, and its readers, to recognize that it is the BLM’s job to make a Determination of Common Variety (DCV), and the agency should not be pressured by anyone, including Mr. Sherman. The BLM will apply its own clearly stated regulations to the exercise and will issue a determination in line with those regulations. This truth is especially relevant when there are inaccurate statements being pushed as facts from those outside the process.
The process Mr. Sherman talked about in his column, the Determination of Common Variety (DCV), is an internal process, performed by BLM personnel, without the direct involvement of the mining company (RMI in this case) or the public. During the DCV, the BLM gathers information about the mining claims in the proposed mining area, physically visits each claim, takes rock samples, assembles market data, and produces a report (the Determination of Common Variety) based on the data they collected from the mining company, the site, and other sources. The ultimate intent of the DCV is to determine whether the potential mineral commodity meets the criteria for an uncommon variety of mineral. If it does, the potential mineral commodity is considered a “locatable mineral.” If it does not, it is considered a “common variety mineral.”
So, what are the criteria for a mineral deposit to be considered an uncommon variety and “locatable”? According to the Code of Federal Regulations in 43 CFR 3830.12, the deposit must have a unique physical property, the unique property has to give the deposit a distinct and special value, and the special value of the material must allow it to command a higher price in the marketplace. Additionally, the Code specifically states that limestone of chemical or metallurgical grade, or that is suitable for making cement, is “locatable” under the mining laws. As a note, in the majority of cement making applications, limestone with a minimum calcium carbonate content of 80% or higher is suitable. The 95% purity standard mentioned by Mr. Sherman is not a BLM requirement and is not correct.
The Colorado Mining Association encourages Post Independent readers to recognize that it is BLM’s job to conduct the DCV process, and it should not be pressured by anyone, including Mr. Sherman, to accept facts and legal conclusions other than those the agency develops on its own.
Rather than argue the finer points of the various laws governing mining in the newspaper, let us allow federal agencies do their job. They are fully competent to do the required analysis according to their proven and established rules, regulations, and practices.
President, Colorado Mining Association
West Glenwood overcrowding dangerous
We are writing to you regarding the Proposed West Glenwood Pasture Development.
We have lived in west Glenwood since 1971 and have seen many changes over the years. While change is inevitable, we feel that the above proposal is dangerous to the residents in West Glenwood, primarily because of the very real possibility of needing to evacuate and this summer is a case in point.
The danger of fire has occurred in West Glenwood twice (1994 and 2002) and we have had to evacuate. In 2002, we were stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on the frontage road while the fire roared our way just across the river. With the fire moving faster than the traffic, we finally drove on the bike path to make our way to north Glenwood and then across the bridge. And, this year, we were very fortunate that the firefighters could extinguished the 111 fire before it was out of control and threatened residents in West Glenwood.
Since the 2002 fire, the population in west Glenwood has grown substantially along with the accompanying increase in traffic. New homes and apartments have been built which have added additional population and cars. The new bridge is a beautiful accomplishment but it doesn’t move traffic across the river at a significantly faster pace than the old bridge did.
The potential increase of another 1,300 tenants and 650 more cars to the already overcrowding of the area is dangerous and ill advised.
In our opinion, a better use for the pasture would be its development as a park for West Glenwood. Currently the only park in West Glenwood is the small Gregory Park by Mitchell Creek.
Leon and Rachel Garot
Trump doesn’t know how to stop COVID
Every one of us is ready to get off of Trump’s Coronacoaster.
Sadly, he doesn’t seem to know how to stop it. He claims that his administration is effectively managing the pandemic. But last week on Tuesday, 1,504 Americans died from COVID-19; Wednesday 1,386; Thursday 1,284; Friday 1,120; and Saturday we lost 1,071. So what did Trump do? He gave up and went golfing on Sunday.
The U.S. death rate from Covid-19 is now more than 5 times the world average.
We made a big mistake letting this reality TV star run the show.
Your vote is important in November.
Glenwood Airport essential to firefighters
I hope our elected city officials realise how instrumental the Glenwood Springs Airport is to the heroic efforts of the helicopters that are fighting the wildland fires. If we had closed our airport, like some of the greedy land developers would like, helicopters would have longer routes to fly for fuel and maintenance and be less effective in protecting our community.
Hopefully this incident will remove any last doubts about the necessity of having an airport in our community that can support not only firefighting helicopters, but also EMS and SAR helicopters, and other aviation.
New COGCC rules a win for hunters and anglers
Colorado’s public lands have been a haven for hunters, anglers and outfitters for generations. They are home to pure strains of native trout, deer and elk herds, antelope, turkey, black bear and many other species.
Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) is currently considering new rules that will better protect our wildlife and the places they live. This action will also protect our entire state and way of life.
Last year, state legislators passed a bill to ensure that the COGCC regulates oil and gas in a manner that “protects public health, safety, welfare, the environment and wildlife resources.” This is a welcome change from a system that prioritized profits over people.
Those of us who hunt, fish, camp and otherwise recreate in Colorado know how important it is to maintain our big game populations. Statewide, 64 elk and deer units are under population objectives. We also know — now more than ever — that our local businesses and communities depend on the people who travel within and to our state and who contribute to our health and robust recreational tourism. Colorado’s outdoor industry currently generates $1.85 billion annually.
For me, this is personal. Our leaders, including the COGCC, need to recognize that Colorado wildlife and its habitat will impact our communities for generations.
David A. Lien
Co-chair, Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
Completing census helps community
I know there is a lot of scary stuff happening right now and I’m sure there are plenty of folks out there that are feeling anxious and maybe even helpless. But remember — our community is resilient and there are a lot of very dedicated and talented individuals working together to respond to these emergencies.
It can be difficult to think about the future when the present feels so heavy, but experience tells us that recovery after incidents is a long process requiring adequate resources. During the quiet moments of these emergencies, one important action you can take to help our community is to complete your census. By answering a few short questions, you make local data more complete which is critical to emergency planning, preparedness, and recovery efforts for all types of emergencies.
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