Monday letters: BOCC and oil and gas, climate policy, vote Romanoff
Protect playgrounds, not gas rigs
At the April 16 Air Quality Control Commission hearing, Garfield County officials were allowed to speak for three minutes each before the public was allowed to speak at all. I waited more than two hours to speak for just two minutes. It’s hard to know if opposing points like mine are acknowledged when industry-supporting government officials are put at the top of the list and given more time to speak.
I want to say unequivocally that Garfield County’s elected officials and staff do not speak for me.
Did you know that Garfield County is spending enormous amounts of our local tax dollars to oppose new statewide oil and gas regulations designed to make the air our children and grandchildren breathe cleaner, keep our communities healthier and protect our environment? In fact, they are leading the effort and perhaps covering the costs of five Western Slope counties that also oppose enhanced air quality protections.
In June 2019, Garfield County Commissioners John Martin, Tom Jankovsky and Mike Samson voted unanimously to spend a half million dollars to hire lobbyists, lawyers, PR flacks and other “experts” in order to defeat stronger protections for the air and climate.
Fossil fuel extraction is the largest source of methane emissions in the state and the second largest source of ozone. Methane is one of the primary causes of climate change. Elevated levels of ozone in our air is extremely unhealthy for people with respiratory conditions like asthma and has been shown to be harmful to the lungs of both young children and the elderly. The new rules, including more frequent inspections for leaks within 1,000 feet of neighborhoods, playgrounds, schools and businesses, are meant to limit both.
Fortunately, last December the Air Quality Control Commission adopted the new regulations to protect our air and the climate. Unfortunately, Garfield County recently sued to overturn these new rules. Yes, there are a handful of other counties that are party to the suit, but I doubt any are paying nearly as much as we taxpayers are in Garfield County.
Put simply, our county commissioners are spending our money to argue in court that the oil and gas industry should not be required to protect our playgrounds, neighborhoods and schools in communities like Battlement Mesa. How is this keeping the public first in service?
How to gage climate policy
There are three statements by major scientific organizations that provide a valuable lens through which to view the climate crisis.
“(T)he amount of rise in carbon dioxide levels since the late 1950s would naturally, in the context of past ice ages, have taken somewhere in the range of 5,000 to 20,000 years; we’ve managed to do it in about 60.” (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Although Earth’s climate has changed before, it’s the pace of the current change that’s most troubling.
“Climate change resulting from anthropogenic CO2 emissions and any associated risks to the environment, human health and society, are … essentially irreversible on human time scales.” (Fourth National Climate Assessment, U.S. Global Change Research Program)
About half of the carbon dioxide we emit stays in the atmosphere for centuries or more.
The United States is the greatest cumulative emitter, with twice the historical emissions of second-place China. Given the long residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere, this means the U.S. is responsible for a larger percentage of the current CO2 concentration than any other nation.
“Limiting global mean temperature increase at any level requires global CO2 emissions to become net zero at some point in the future.” (Global Warming of 1.5°C, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)
Net zero carbon dioxide emissions means reducing emissions enough that they are balanced by CO2 removal, such as being absorbed by forests and dissolved in the oceans; otherwise the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will continue to grow.
Along with safety and equity, climate policy should be evaluated on its ability to achieve this net zero goal as quickly as possible.
Consequently, when a candidate presents a climate plan during this election year, it’s crucial to ask: Does this proposal match the scope of the problem?
Hales Corners, Wisconsin
An opportunity for Bernie voters
Disappointed Bernie Sanders supporters have an excellent opportunity to keep his dream of a better America alive by getting out the vote for Andrew Romanoff in his drive to face off against Cory Gardner in the coming Senate race.
His primary opponent, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, has name recognition, the support of the party establishment, and an impressive campaign war chest, much of it from out-of-state donors.
What he lacks are the enthusiasm and ideals to strive for real change in American life. Andrew Romanoff has these. Keep the faith. Stay engaged.
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