Wednesday letters: Evacuation plan, local leadership, Jordan Cove
Hope for representatives that seek smart growth solutions
I first want to thank the fire crews for the quick response to the 111 Fire. I was in awe of your efforts and appreciate your ongoing bravery.
Community. What does that word mean to our town’s officials? Is it thought of as individuals sharing common interests and goals, or simply people living in the same place? No matter the answer, those who have called Glenwood Springs their home for years, decades or a lifetime deserve to be heard, and listened to.
Aug. 5 posed many challenges for local citizens, along with those passing through. I reside on Mel Rey Road, off the roundabout. The traffic that flooded Mel Rey wrapped around to Donegan, down Storm King, up Mitchell Creek, and back to Highway 6 leaving us residents out here feeling trapped. What would we have done should we have needed to evacuate?
On July 2nd a couple neighbors and I got together to create a Facebook group to share information about a 418 unit apartment complex being proposed in West Glenwood by a developer out of Cincinnati, OH. (To learn more find us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/203281687630716) To the county and city officials who’ve met with the developer privately, did the thought of natural catastrophes cross your mind when you recommended more units than the amount originally proposed?
In my research for this page I found a Community Wildfire Protection Plan dated April 2007. Despite it being an older document, the content is valuable to all in this moment. Figure 2 has much of West Glenwood at a Hazard Rating of Very High to Extreme. On page 29, a high priority recommendation was made to educate citizens on proper escape routes. Was this ever enacted?
Vulnerable communities should look to examples like the socio-ecological mitigation approach Montecito County used to successfully fight the Thomas Fire. As a 38 year old Glenwood Springs native, I plan to live out my days here. But what I hope for are leaders that value common interests and goals and that work hard to achieve them — representatives that seek smart growth solutions that encapsulate a true sense of community.
Where are the leaders in time of Covid?
I have observed with increasing distress as the many schools and school systems in the Roaring Fork Valley have come to a different conclusion about what is safe for their staff and students. It has become apparent that each school or school system is focused narrowly on their own micro-community, and is not thinking about the implications for the larger community.
In Carbondale alone, the three elementary schools are opening in three entirely different structures, with different protocols. Crystal River is all virtual to start the year; Ross Montessori will open for in-person learning; Carbondale Community School is opening in-person two days a week. Meanwhile, the other major district in the Valley, Aspen School District, is opening its elementary school in-person, but middle and high schools will be virtual.
One way of looking at the different school decisions is through the lens of race and equity: the schools with primarily Hispanic populations are not opening for in-person education. The schools with primarily white populations are opening.
This situation, where our many different schools are opening in many different ways, has created chaos in our community as families scramble to make parenting, employment, economic, and educational decisions. This situation is also putting us on a path toward dramatically increasing educational inequality in our community.
This is a moment for the Valley’s leaders (including the mayors, town councils, county commissioners, school boards, and heads of charter and private schools) to demonstrate their leadership by working together to create whole-Valley solutions. The process of making a decision about what a single school or school system does without considering the implications for the whole Valley is an abdication of leadership and has put us all in a situation that is exacerbating chaos and inequality.
Since Covid is now a long-term health and economic crisis, our leaders have time to step up and bring our community together, rather than splitting us apart.
Jordan Cove will use only a small amount of Colorado gas
During 15 of my 50 years in Coos Bay I have opposed the proposed Jordan Cove LNG plant. I’m not a landowner on the pipeline route, although letting a foreign company condemn American land by eminent domain is outrageous. And it’s not because of global warming, which is far too speculative.
Instead, my reason is safety. It’s being sited in flagrant violation of the LNG industry’s own safety recommendations, based on its incredible burning characteristics. An ignited spill from a damaged LNG tanker would kill everyone within one-third of a mile, although admittedly those people would die very quickly and get a free cremation too. Even people 2.2 miles away could still get serious burns. All this is documented in the government-sponsored Sandia-Hightower reports. It is why the LNG industry’s safety agency recommends that LNG plants and ships be kept far enough away from populated areas to avoid massacres. But Jordan Cove will be less than a mile away, and the ships will pass within less than 1/3 of a mile; and Pembina has no plan for controlling them during the expected tsunami.
Pembina has insinuated that Jordan Cove would save Colorado gas producers’ bacon by exporting their gas. This is false. The plan has always been to bring Canadian gas down to Coos Bay to export it as LNG. Anybody can look up online the ‘Letter Decision’ dated 20 February 2014, in which Canada’s Energy Board granted them a ‘license’ to export 1.55 billion cubic feet of Canadian gas per day for 25 years, through the Kingsgate pipeline hub on the Canadian border. From there it will travel through Canadian-owned pipelines to the Malin hub in Oregon, and next to Coos Bay.
1.55 bcf/d is more than enough to feed the Jordan Cove plant. But, in a ploy to generate American support, the Grand Junction Sentinel of Sept. 12, 2018, reported that a company rep had promised that Jordan Cove would use between 75 and 150 million cf/d of Colorado gas. By my calculations that would make up between 5.8% and 11.5% of the total volume used.
Wim de Vriend
Coos Bay Oregon
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