Letters | Greenwashing, revisited


Correction: The article “The aftermath” (Dec. 5, Buzz) incorrectly stated that 211 structures and 175 homes in Lyons took flood damage. The correct number given to BW was 211 total structures, including 175 homes.

Greenwashing, revisited [Re: “Hickenlooper’s new oil and gas regulations: Real substance or fracking greenwash?” Cover story, Nov. 28.] Thanks for the great article on Hickenlooper’s new fracking regs. You put it all together. In my limited time, I did similar but far less extensive research as you, reading the regs, thinking about enforcement, examining the process by which the draft was developed and looking at EDF’s money trail. I came up with similar though far less detailed observations. Unfortunately, your article was very helpful in confirming what I suspected. You and Jeff do a fabulous job bringing the facts to bear on important issues — a thousand times better job than the Post and 10 thousand times better than the Camera.

Ken Bonetti/Boulder 

Facts matter. Unfortunately, they’re in short supply in Joel Dyer’s story “Hickenlooper’s new oil and gas regulations: Real substance or fracking greenwash?”. Rather than discuss the merits of Gov. Hickenlooper’s proposal, Dyer dismisses it out of hand — basically saying there’s no point in having tough rules, since he doesn’t believe they’ll be enforced.

At Environmental Defense Fund, which was involved in negotiations leading up to the proposal, we completely agree strong oversight capacity is needed. Where we diverge is on the idea that we can’t improve regulations at the same time. We can do both.

If this proposal is adopted in February, Colorado will have the nation’s strongest rules for controlling oil and gas air emissions. It would be the first state to directly regulate methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, and have the strongest requirements for finding and fixing equipment leaks — or “fugitive emissions.” New, strong requirements would be implemented for other equipment too, like tanks, dehydrators and valves. Critically, these requirements would apply to existing well sites, not just new ones — which most other states and the U.S. EPA fail to do in their rules.

Colorado’s Air Pollution Control Division estimates these measures would reduce smog-forming volatile organic compounds by 92,000 tons annually — about the same amount that comes from all the cars in Colorado — and would eliminate tens of thousands of tons of climate-damaging methane emissions.

In attacking EDF and some of our supporters, Dyer also takes the position that anyone who ever worked in the energy industry, or invested in it, should be barred from supporting or working for environmental protection. We couldn’t disagree more. In reality, we need more industry leaders and investors to stand up.

We also want to correct Dyer’s implication that EDF accepts money from energy companies. We don’t. EDF doesn’t accept any corporate contributions, not from energy companies or any others.

EDF has always used an approach that draws on science, economics, partnerships and bipartisanship. We believe that by working with diverse groups, including energy companies, we can foster solutions that aren’t available otherwise.

Dyer may not like that EDF worked with Colorado’s three largest energy producers to help shape Gov. Hickenlooper’s proposal. He may believe opposing all oil and gas development is the right path forward. We don’t begrudge him those beliefs. He’s entitled to his own opinions. But he’s not entitled to his own facts.

Dan Grossman, Rocky Mountain Regional Director, Environmental Defense Fund/Boulder

Best coverage I’ve seen on the subject yet. Important research, and strong piece of journalism.

One key omission: The Air Division in its press release admits the deal only reduces 34 percent of VOC emissions from oil and gas operations. As the largest contributor after vehicle tailpipe emissions to ozone formation in the ninecounty Front Range nonattainment area for ozone, a lot more than 34 percent reduction will be needed to bring the region into attainment of the national health standard for ozone. By cutting a deal that omits any accounting for the industry’s contribution to the health impacts of ozone on 3 million Front Range residents, the industry gets off the hook for much more extensive and expensive controls.

Bob Yuhnke/via Internet

I have continuing admiration for your environmental investigative reporting, especially for this week’s article on fracking.

This new industry tactic you explain — plan B — is even worse than their direct affront on election results, because so many people may be lulled by the indication of regulation without “teeth.” And it is shocking to have direct evidence of the complicity of environmental organizations such as EDF.

I have a minor question concerning my surprise to learn of the $6 million contribution of Mayor Bloomberg to support fracking regulation study by EDF. I assume that was his own personal contribution.

Could you please delve a bit more into why Mayor Bloomberg would make such a sizable contribution for this purpose, eg., does he hold stock in fracking industries or is New York involved in fracking issues? (You did explain about heavy contributor Robertson on the board of EDF being tied to energy development.)

Edna Loehman/Longmont

Your new food critic is good I read the Cuisine Review “Brunch without the wait “ [Nov. 28] this morning.

I have not seen your new food critic before. She is a keeper. Rarely do I come across such excellent food writing. Her descriptions of the food at Aji’s made me want to jump in my car and go right over there. Don’t let her get away. She will be a great resource to the Boulder food scene. Thank you.

David Segal/Boulder

Do more obituaries [Re: “A remembrance: Gary Thomas Mueller,” Nov. 28.] As far as I know, this is the first obituary I have read in the Boulder Weekly. I never met Mr. Mueller, but after reading this, I feel like I know him. Kudos to the author. I would sum it up by saying his was a life well-lived.

I hope others were as inspired by it as me. Therefore I would like to see obituaries as a regular feature. Remembering the great things that our neighbors and friends do is good.

Jim Wilkinson/Boulder

[Re: “You say you want a revolution?” Screen, Nov. 28.] Critics and reviewers keep proclaiming that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a “dangerous” and “bold” movie because it dares to take on the subject of income inequality in America, but nothing could be further from the truth. Katniss Everdeen is about as threatening to our plutocratic overlords as a free Justin Bieber concert held at the Bank of America Stadium and sponsored by Walmart.

In the film the citizens of District 12 are impoverished, but don’t blame capitalism! Oh no, the only reason anyone is poor in Panem is because of an evil government. But not even a government that closely resembles our own, staffed with Paul Ryan wannabes cutting food stamps and access to medical care because they think the poor are lazy and undeserving. Instead what we get is a relatively safe movie trope. The government of Panem is depicted as cartoonishly evil to the point of being farcical and has no resemblance to our government at all.

And what about the lives of the poor people? In Collins’ Panem all we see of the poor are mostly white citizens working crappy jobs and wearing unstylish clothes, but otherwise treating each other with good old-fashioned American dignity and respect. No drug epidemics. No alcoholism aside from Haymitch. No rapes or beatings from other impoverished members of District 12. Clearly Mrs. Collins and director Francis Lawrence has never heard of East L.A. or Detroit. The only violence in the entire film is when the noble poor are forced by the government to kill each other. In other words, poverty itself never caused any real breakdown of the social order, only bad government. A message the Tea Party would no doubt wholeheartedly embrace.

Real socio-economic revolutions are not accompanied by a 32-ounce collectors cups from McDonalds.

Chris Robison/Boulder

Goodbye, Madiba Nelson Mandela died on Dec. 6 , but his ideas live on. Since returning from a 2011 Fulbright in South Africa, I have taught Mandela’s autobiography Long Walk to Freedom to CU-Boulder students in an anthropology course called Regional Cultures of Africa.

Though some students complain about reading a 656-page book, others understand that Long Walk to Freedom is an important history. Last spring, Claire Elizabeth France started her presentation on the 1964 Rivonia trial by saying, “This is so amazing — we are lucky to read about Mandela, who said: ‘I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for, and to see realised. But my Lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.’” Claire explained to the class that Mandela intended to use the trial as a platform for his beliefs. Mandela knew that defending himself in a moral sense might result in the death penalty, but that didn’t stop him. When Ms. France learned of Mandela’s death from a CNN update on her phone she wrote in an email, “I have been having flashbacks to your class when we read and discussed Long Walk to Freedom. Nelson Mandela, to this day, actively is in my thoughts when I need inspiration in my life … I admire Nelson so much because he had qualities that I am working on having. He had the ability to, no matter what, stand up for himself and for what he believed in.”

Now Madiba (Mandela’s clan ancestral name) has passed to the realm of the ancestors, but his autobiography continues to inspire CU students in ANTH 1150.

Laura DeLuca/Boulder

History is on the side of freedom fighters.

God bless Nelson Mandela. May he rest in peace.

Tommy Holeman/Niwot

Repurposing Walmart mailers I really didn’t want Walmart in Boulder and was angry when they managed to sneak into the Diagonal Mall, so you can imagine my annoyance when I recently started finding large advertisements from the new Neighborhood Market in my mailbox.

“What a waste of paper,” I complained to my wife, “when Walmart knows most Boulderites will never choose to shop there, even if they can get some lower prices.”

But then, suddenly, an idea hit me, and I went to my desk, took out scissors, a marker, and clear tape, and set to work. Minutes later, I had a durable, tape-covered badge affixed (with double-stick tape) to my shirt: below, on corporate green background, was the Neighborhood Market logo, above, bright red on bright white, the words “I BOYCOTT”.

Who needs to buy buttons to promote the local campaign to close this Walmart store when the corporation sends us nicely printed material that we can use to make our own counter-ads? And every time another Neighborhood Market mailer arrives, we can make additional badges to pass on to our friends. I’m looking forward to seeing what creativity my fellow shoppers employ in making their badges!

John Russell/Boulder

Hemp rules go too far This letter is to whomever is concerned with the industrial hemp industry in Colorado. With the passage by the people of Amendment 64 the possibility of a viable and profitable industry in the state was open. After attending the Industrial Hemp Forum hosted by Rep. Jared Polis in Fort Collins it is questionable if hemp production will take place.

After reviewing the criteria for farmers to grow industrial hemp, the odds are signif icantlyagainst it. Usually when an industry is encouraged by the community it is offered incentives in the form of tax breaks, free land and other aids to get it off the ground. Not so with industrial hemp. Despite the rhetoric by the newly formed Colorado Department of Agriculture Hemp commission that they want to be “partners” in the research and development of this brand new industry, their regulations speak just the opposite.

In the guidelines the individual farmer must bear all the costs for such research and development (the state agricultural schools are not allowed to do research and development).The farmer first must pay a registration fee and then pay a fee for each acre cultivated (what other crop do you know has this requirement?). The farmer then must have the seeds smuggled in through undercover operations. After bearing the cost to purchase, plant and grow the crop the farmer must then pay for the inspection and diagnosis of the THC content. The risk being that if it is over 0.3 percent THC content his entire effort is destroyed by methods of arbitrary discretion by whom?

No remuneration of any kind will be made and any chance of selling it are forbidden. If it is over 1 percent THC the federal authorities will be called in and the farmer stands the risk of arrest as a felon and even the loss of his property! Couple all of this with the fact that no one will sell crop insurance for this crop.

All of this when certified seed of THC balanced industrial hemp are available in Canada, the European Union and Asia.

Why remake the wheel? Allow for transport of certified seed to come to this state!

Actually become a partner bearing some of the cost and risk involved in research, development and testing! Promote business by making a profit a sure thing!

Consumers and users of industrial hemp attended the forum and are poised to purchase this crop in Colorado, and the possibility of moving those processing industries to the state of Colorado is high.

As it stands none of this will happen under these criteria. Would you as a farmer venture into this field with these criteria?

I am asking the governor to recall the commission and re-evaluate this criteria and truly become partners with farmers that want to re-introduce this crop in Colorado.

Randy Luallin/Louisville