Category: Environment

Spring has Sprung

People enjoy a morning stroll by the Government Highline Canal as it fills the valley's massive, government-built irrigation system with water, marking the beginning of the 2015 growing season in the Grand Valley

People enjoy a morning stroll along the Grand Valley Highline Canal as it fills the valley’s extensive, government-funded irrigation system with water, marking the beginning of the Grand Valley’s 2015 growing season. The Grand Valley Highline Canal, also called the Government High Line Canal, is a federally-funded irrigation project that made settlement of the Grand Valley possible. It was completed in 1917 and is 55 miles long. Technically, walking or biking on the canal banks is trespassing, but according to former three-term Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey, not one single case of canal road trespassing was ever prosecuted in the valley in the 28 years served on the Sheriff Department. “Maybe someone has gotten a ticket,” said Hilkey, but basically MCSO considers it “the lowest priority misdemeanor there is.” Every farmer in the valley owes his or her living, and a big debt of gratitude, to the federal government for creating the canals.

 

 

 

Council Candidates Sound Like Broken Records, Ignore Constituents

It's the same-ole, same-old from Council candidates again this year. Who supports all the other folks?

It’s the same-ole, same-old from Council candidates again this year. Who supports all the other folks in town besides business and property owners?

Candidates for the contested seats on the Grand Junction City Council are all starting to sound the same. Kim Kerk supports “property owners rights” and a “business friendly community.” Duncan McArthur is for “private property rights” and the “small business owner.” They sound just the same, don’t they? Dennis Simpson says he’s a “fiscal conservative,” and McArthur is for “fiscal responsibility,” but aren’t these the same thing? Basically, it’s code for even more belt-tightening for our community.

It’s like listening to a broken record. And it’s folly for voters to listen to them.

Business owners and the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce wield outsized influence in Grand Junction, and they’ve shown citizens time and again that believing anything they say or do at election time is completely absurd.

Kim Kerk also supports the same old constituencies. Don't others matter?

Kim Kerk also supports the same old constituencies: private property owners and business owners. Why don’t the rest of us matter?

The chamber portrays itself as the single most important political voice in town because it represents businesses, but only a fraction of area businesses actually belong to the chamber and according to the chamber’s membership list, many of their members are from outside of the area. The “Grand Junction Chamber” has members in Denver, Arvada, Lakewood, Greenwood Village, Centennial, Glenwood Springs, Moab, Utah, Reno, Nevada, Houston, Texas, and even Washington, D.C…. Why should any company based on the front range or another state have any say or lobbying power over Grand Junction’s issues or candidates?

What’s more, valuing businesses more highly than ordinary, hard-working city residents has cost this city dearly and set us far behind smaller western slope towns. For years, maybe even decades, Grand Junction citizens have been craving a public recreation center, like the ones the cities of Fruita, Delta, Montrose and Durango have already built for their citizens. Over and over, our City Council has denied residents this same wonderful amenity based on an unproven premise that building such a facility might possibly be detrimental to less than a handful of private businesses in town, like gyms and athletic clubs. A couple of businesses vs. tens of thousands of citizens who could benefit from such a facility. Why are city residents always the losers in this kind of issue?

Haven’t Grand Junction residents sacrificed their quality of life on the altar of almighty private business long enough?

Businesses and the Chamber: Unreliable Voices at Election time

The chamber promised G.J. voters if they voted to zone this parcel by the river to light industrial, Brady Trucking would bring in a bunch of $70,000/year jobs, and build trails and landscaping by the river. Voters passed the measure, but this is how the site looks today.

The chamber promised G.J. voters in 2013 if they voted to zone this parcel by the river to light industrial, Brady Trucking would bring in a slew of $70,000/year jobs, and build trails and landscaping by the river. Voters passed the measure, but today, two years later, the site remains dilapidated, no jobs were ever created and no trails were ever built.

Moreover, neither the chamber nor private businesses have proven reliable proponents on issues. The chamber has gone to bat for private businesses at election time before, only to be outed as lying.

Remember Referred Measure A in the April, 2013 election? It asked voters to uphold light industrial zoning by the Colorado River so Brady Trucking, a private business, could expand its operations there. The chamber promised voters that if they passed the measure, Brady Trucking would bring a slew of new jobs to town averaging $70,000 a year and build a walking and biking trail on a 50-foot wide easement along the river, as well as fencing and landscaping. Chamber President Diane Schwenke said, “This is an issue where the voters can support good jobs and development of trails.”

Oh, really?

Voters listened to the chamber and duly passed the measure, and now, two years later, the site is still untouched. No trails were ever built, and no additional jobs ever brought to the area.

The vaunted chamber, the “voice of business,” spoke and told voters the best thing to do, and it was a lie.

The arrest of Chamber-backed city council candidate Rick Brainard in April, 2013 shocked Grand Junction citizens and embarrassed the entire City.

The arrest of Chamber-backed city council candidate Rick Brainard in April, 2013, for beating up his girlfriend, shocked Grand Junction citizens and embarrassed the entire City.

Remember the infamous 2013 chamber-backed city council candidate, Rick Brainard, and what a debacle he was to the City? Brainard got arrested four days after being elected and appeared on TV news broadcasts in a yellow jumpsuit. He later pled guilty to assault.

After these kinds of terrible candidate endorsements and lies, should voters really listen to the chamber any more about which candidates and issues to back in local elections?

Of course not.

The better idea is to listen to the chamber so you can do the opposite of what they recommend.

There are plenty of good and important people in Grand Junction besides business and private property owners, yet in every election cycle, council candidates ignore them. What about retirees, students, disabled citizens, people who work for salaries like nonprofit workers, retail workers, landscape workers, day care workers, restaurant workers, teachers, government employees and volunteers, to name a few?

Don’t these people matter to candidates and elected officials, once they get into office? Why are none of these groups considered viable constituencies worth pursuing at election time and serving once in office?

Arguably, these citizens are the real lifeblood of our area. Not only do they provide important local services, but they earn the money that gets spent at local businesses. Without these people as customers, local businesses would die. But who fights for THEIR best interests?

No one, so far.

ManBalloonIt’s way beyond time for council candidates to acknowledge that there are many voters in town with needs besides private property owners, business owners and people who want more belt-tightening by City Council. There are plenty of business-friendly tightwads on Council already. What we need at long last are candidates who care about average, hard-working Grand Junction residents, many of whom live on the edge, have difficulty feeding their kids, making ends meet and affording medical and dental care. We need council candidates who will vow to support these people’s interests and needs if elected to Council.

Now THAT would be one giant breath of fresh air.

Scot McInnis: Mesa County’s Land Conservation Hypocrite-in-Chief

Former Congressman Scott McInnis won a race for Mesa County Commissioner in November, 2014, even though his campaign broke several rules, including illegally posting campaign signs on power poles without permission and standing on city medians in violation of City Ordinance 9.04.250, "Prohibition against standing on or occupying medians."

Former Congressman Scott McInnis won a race for Mesa County Commissioner in November, 2014, even though his campaign broke several rules, including illegally posting campaign signs on power poles without permission and standing on city medians in violation of City Ordinance 9.04.250, “Prohibition against standing on or occupying medians.”

Mesa County Commissioner Scott McInnis has carefully cultivated an image of being a land conservation maven. Until recently he was a member of the board of Colorado Open Lands, a statewide land trust that holds the largest conservation easement in the state. That group’s mission is to conserve productive farmland and scenic areas of the state through voluntary partnerships with private landowners and federal, state and local agencies. Ostensibly, Mr. McInnis served on this board because he believes in the value of land preservation. As a U.S. Congressman, McInnis so closely linked himself with boosting land conservation that he even got his buddies in Congress to rename a 200,000 acre area public land on the western slope as “McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area,” even though doing so violated a House Rule created specifically to prohibit Congressmen from naming public works or lands after themselves.

Quite an accomplishment for Mr. McInnis.

So if we could presume that anyone on the western slope would be a champion for the value of land conservation, you would think it would be Scott McInnis, right?

Nope.

Since being elected Mesa County Commissioner just last year, McInnis has suddenly turned skeptical of the value of land conservation, and so far, he hasn’t explained to the public why he’s had such a radical turnabout in his views.

When the Mesa Land Trust asked the Mesa County commissioners earlier this month for a letter supporting a Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) grant application to put a conservation easement on 22 acres of productive private agricultural land on East Orchard Mesa, McInnis threw on the brakes and denied the request, claiming — of all things — that he needs more time to learn about easements and what they mean for the county’s future.

McInnis is suddenly very concerned that conservation easements might be harmful to Mesa County because they protect land from development in perpetuity. He now suggests open lands only be conserved for just 30 years, instead protecting them in perpetuity for later generations to enjoy.

McInnis’ new stance is a 180-degree flip-flop on land conservation, and has rendered him a complete and total hypocrite on the subject.

Land conservation seemed valuable enough when it meant McInnis could get a federal conservation area name after himself, but now, not so much. The idea that it might be inappropriate for a private landowner to choose to preserve his or her own farmland for future generations is incredible. But if we are to now believe Mr. McInnis, this is what he thinks.

Scott McInnis dropped out of the race for governor in 2010 amid plagiarism allegations, and got a national conservation area named after himself in violation of federal House Rules prohibiting Congressmen from naming public works and lands after themselves.

Scott McInnis dropped out of the race for governor in 2010 amid plagiarism allegations, and got a national conservation area named after himself in violation of federal House Rules prohibiting Congressmen from naming public works and lands after themselves.

It’s not as though Mesa County citizens had no warning that McInnis would be untrustworthy in public office. His 2014 campaign for commissioner violated several laws and ordinances, his infamous plagiarism scandal while running for governor in 2010 and the subversive way he got federal lands named after him in 2004 in opposition to what Coloradans wanted all made it painfully clear that McInnis was far from being a decent candidate, to put it charitably.

So now that McInnis has suddenly changed his mind and believes land conservation is a bad idea, what happens now?

Maybe he will now be willing to let the name “McInnis Canyons” expire, so the conservation area so mistakenly named after him can revert back to its original name, “Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area.”

Or, if you’d rather not wait for that to become reality, we can initiate that action right now, so Mesa County citizens can finally end the embarrassment of having a national conservation area in their backyard named after a total hypocrite.

To get moving on fixing the “McInnis Canyons” mistake, click here to sign the petition to Colorado Senator Michael Bennet asking for legislation to revert “McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area” back to its original name, Colorado Canyons National Conservation area.

Open Polluting Continues Apace in Mesa County

JoBlo

Thinking of retiring to Grand Junction or Mesa County? Think we have clean air and a fabulous springtime here? Think again. Relocation packets supplied by the Chamber of Commerce and Visitors’ Bureau don’t mention our area’s dirty little secret: Open Burning, the five months of the year when for the miniscule $5-$15 cost of a burn permit, any Joe Blow can openly burn dry hay fields, unlimited piles of dead grass, yard refuse, dead tree branches and other debris without any legal repercussion or consideration for neighbors. For months out of what would normally be the best times of the year, smoke fills the valley’s air with particulate matter and a putrid stench that makes many area residents sick and drives them indoors just at the time the warmer spring weather arrives. Spring Burning Season runs from March 1 – May 31, and Fall Burning Season runs from Sept. 1 – Oct. 31.

 

Open Burning Suffocating Entire Neighborhoods

Smoke from an open burning fire smothered an entire neighborhood this afternoon just 1/4 mile from Mesa Mall.

Smoke from an open burning fire suffocated an entire neighborhood this afternoon on F 1/4 Road, just 1/4 mile from Mesa Mall.

Suddenly you can’t breathe inside your own home. Parents rush their asthmatic children to the doctors’ offices and emergency rooms. People at home on oxygen have to leave their homes or head to hospitals for relief. People attending weddings, dining, shopping or otherwise enjoying their Saturdays as normal are forced to leave events early because they feel sick, with sore throats and eyes that are burning and tearing uncontrollably.

Welcome to springtime in Mesa County, where open burning season ruins springtime for thousands of valley residents who have the misfortune of living near a burner. The normally clear, fresh valley air at this time of year gets pumped full of particulates and ash, as a smoky haze casts a pall over the area as residents suffer when neighbors burn their leaves, grass, branches and garbage openly.

Is this legal?

Yes.

Mesa County in one of the few areas left in the country where people can openly engage in the archaic practice of openly burning debris and freely polluting the air at the expense of their neighbors.

A Great Place to Retire? Think Again

Open burning of fields along roads in Grand Junction's residential areas creates a visibility hazard for drivers, as well as a health hazards for residents, pedestrians, bicyclists and more

Open burning of fields along roads in Grand Junction’s residential areas creates a visibility hazard for drivers, as well as a health hazards for residents, pedestrians, bicyclists and more

Grand Junction get marketed as a great place to retire, but relocation packets handed out by the Visitors and Convention Bureau and the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce don’t tell potential relocatees about the many months each year where for the very small cost of a burn permit, anyone in Mesa County can burn waste piles and inflict suffering on other residents.

Judging from the amount of smoke overtaking the valley, plenty of people are burning this year.

Medical Burn Ban: An Answer?

Smoke from open fires isn’t just smelly, unsightly and uncomfortable. It poses a distinct health hazard to people with reactive lung diseases like asthma and bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or heart disease. Since Grand Junction has the biggest and most advanced medical facilities between Denver and Salt Lake, many people with heart and lung disease settle or retire here, only to discover they suffer for a total of months in the spring and fall seasons when open burning is permitted.

What can be done?

It’s Open Polluting Season Again in Mesa County

Smoke from open burning sends area residents with asthma and COPD running to doctors, hospitals and emergency rooms with breathing problems.

Smoke from spring open burning fires in Mesa County sends area residents with asthma, COPD and heart ailments running to doctors, hospitals and emergency rooms with breathing problems

In a cultural throwback to a mostly bygone era, anyone in Mesa County can still buy a permit to burn agricultural waste on their property. It’s called “Open Burning Season,” and the ubiquitous plumes of smoke seen — and smelled — throughout the county at this time of year increase the level of particulates in the air and send people with asthma, COPD and heart disease who live near these running to area doctors, hospitals and emergency rooms due to exacerbation of their illnesses.

Open burning is any open, outdoor flame where pollutants from the fire are emitted directly into the surrounding air. This includes the burning of leaves, wood and trash. Open burning doesn’t actually get rid of any waste or garbage. It just sends it into another chemical form that affects the people who breathe the air around the burn. Open burning is a legal way to dispose of one’s waste into the common airshed. It is akin to dumping waste on common public lands. It is very common, but very unhealthy method of disposing of garbage in western Colorado.

In some parts of the country, open burning is prohibited near roads, to preserve visibility for drivers

In some parts of the country, open burning is prohibited near roads, to preserve visibility for drivers

Burning waste outdoors — any kind of waste, whether it is agricultural or garbage — is unhealthy, unsafe and unneighborly. It’s also costly. The Grand Junction Fire Department spent over $11,000 responding to out of control fires during the 2013 open burn season. Some of those fires resulted in property damage, to, and people who suffer with breathing illnesses and have to see their doctors or go to emergency rooms due to smoke from open burning incur significant medical bills for treatment and medication.

Energy Expo Protesters Shame Organizers over Fringe Speaker, Demand More Focus on Clean Energy

Crowd of protesters at Grand Junction's Energy Forum and Expo 2015

Crowd of protesters at Grand Junction’s Energy Forum and Expo 2015

A crowd of people rallied outside Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction today to protest Energy Expo speaker John L. Casey, who lectures on climate change but does not have any qualifying degrees or peer-reviewed publications on the subject. Casey is known for pandering to the belief popular among the tea party fringe that global warming is a massive scientific fraud perpetrated by the U.S. government and the United Nations. YouTube videos of Casey speaking before tea party groups in Florida show him to be a fear monger whose talks devolve into race-baiting and instilling fear in ILoveSciencehis audiences. He warns people to lay in a year’s supply of food to deal with food shortages he predicts will occur in a coming ice age, and tells them to be ready to defend their stored food supplies from urban minorities whom, he says, will try to beat them up and kill them to get it.

Colorado Mountain College on Energy Expo: “We are not hosts of the event”

CMCRachel Pokrandt, Dean of the Rifle Campus of Colorado Mountain College (CMC), says she didn’t know anything about the Energy Expo’s speaker program and the school is not a host of the event, despite being listed as a host on the event’s promotional materials.

“We never agreed to be a host” of the event, Pokrandt said. She says the event organizers “Really did represent us quite horribly.”

Pokrandt says CMC just has a small booth at the event, which they have rented annually for the past 10 years, to educate people about their solar, biofuels and other programs.

“We don’t want to be connected with that type of speaker,” Pokrandt said, referring to Energy Expo speaker John L. Casey, who speaks on the topic of climate science despite having no degrees in climatology and never having published any peer-reviewed research on the subject. His talks typically start out with charts, statistics and scientific claims, but by the end of his talks, he devolves into fearmongering and racist statements.

Videos posted online of Casey’s talks show him speaking before tea party groups. He says anthropogenic climate change is a scientific fraud perpetrated by the U.S. government and the United Nations. He says global warming is over, that sun entered a period of “hibernation” in 2007 and the earth is now entering a prolonged period of cooling that will lead to an increase in earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Casey further says this cold phase will cause the world’s food supply to diminish and people will need to lay in a year’s supply of food and be ready to flee to the countryside and defend their food stores from urban minorities who, he says, will start beating and murdering people to get their food supplies — after government food stamp programs can no longer sustain them.

Pokrandt said that in the past, the Energy Expo and Forum has been “fairly level” in regard to balance in the types of speakers they’ve had, and between renewable and non-renewable types of energy, but that unfortunately due to the circumstances this year, CMC may have to withdraw its involvement from the event in the future.

 

Protest Planned at Energy Expo

W.Slope stupidty signGrand Junction residents concerned about integrity in science, environment and education are planning to protest at this year’s Energy Expo and Forum at 1:00 p.m. Friday on the south side of Two Rivers Convention Center, and are inviting others from around the west slope to join in.

The reason for the protest — the first ever at the Energy Expo — is this year’s speaker, John L. Casey, who claims anthropogenic global climate change is a scientific fraud and government conspiracy. Casey writes and speaks about climate change, yet has no degrees in climate science, nor has he ever published any peer-reviewed information on the subject. He appears almost exclusively before tea party groups.

Online videos of Casey’s prior talks reveal him to be a fear monger and a racist. He starts out with a dry talk using charts and statistics and says global climate change is a fraud perpetrated by the United Nations and the U.S. government. He then tells his audiences that the sun has gone into a “hibernation” phase and the earth is entering a cold era that will devastate crops and lead to food shortages. He then tells audiences they need to store away one year’s worth of food, and get ready to defend their food stores from starving, inner-city minority groups, who will rise up in mass and try to assault and kill people to steal their food.

The Energy Expo is a privately-owned event that is free and open to the public. The event owners are former Club 20 Executive Director Bonnie Peterson and former Mesa County Commissioner and oil and gas lobbyist Kathy Hall. Peterson was responsible for choosing Casey as a speaker this year. Neither event owner informed the event’s supposed “hosts” or sponsors, including Colorado Mountain College, Colorado Mesa University and the John McConnell Math and Science Center, about the choice of speakers until event materials had already gone into production. When “hosts” then complained about Mr. Casey being a speaker, they were told it was too late to change the lineup, because event materials had already been printed.

Two Rivers Convention Center, where the Expo and protest will be held, is owned by the City of Grand Junction.

The public is invited to join the protest at the Energy Expo and the organizers’ shocking choice of John L. Casey as a speaker.

Online Videos Reveal John L. Casey to be a Fearmonger and Racist

Online videos of talks by John L. Casey, the 2015 Energy Forum and Expo’s keynote speaker, reveal him stimulating fear and racism by telling audiences that in the coming cold era that will occur on Earth, minority groups in urban areas will rise up to become thieves and murderers who will try to steal your food.

In videos of his talks, mostly given to Florida tea party groups, Casey tells his audiences that anthropogenic global warming is a “widespread fraud of climate science.” He says carbon dioxide (CO2) has nothing to do with climate change, that changing climate is purely related to the sun. Casey says the sun is now in a period of “hibernation” that will lead to extreme cold that will devastate crops and result of massive food shortages globally.

One of Casey’s talks in reveals his fearmongering and cultivation of racism.

In a video published to YouTube on December 4, 2014, around minute 56, Casey tells his audience:

“After the first panic, when the shelves are cleared out…your neighbor is going to come across the street — maybe your neighbor’s wife — and say ‘sorry to come to your house’ and say there’s no bread and no milk, would you give me something because we know you have a one year food supply. What are you gonna do? What are you gonna do? You’re gonna try and help of course. That’s the human thing. But at some point you’re gonna have enough neighbors lining up and at some point you’re going to have to say ‘I’m sorry we need to preserve our food for ourselves.’

Guess what happens after that point? They’ll beat you up and they’ll kill you. …Nothing is more driven than a starving person. They will do anything, especially if they have children who are starving….

Worst case, have a sanctuary away from urban areas…this may not apply too much here…but it absolutely applies if you live in Miami, New York City, or Atlanta, Georgia,…I mean, pick a major metropolitan area, especially those that are heavily minority and dependent on government food. That’s another reason we need to get rid of the food stamp program, ladies and gentlemen. We need people to be self reliant, not dependent. By making them independent and self-reliant, we give them a chance…”

“The death and destruction will be biblical in scale,” Casey tells the crowd.

See the clip here.

 

 

 

Area Educational Institutions Blindsided by Choice of Expo Speaker

Bonnie Peterson is said to be the person responsible for inviting Casey to speak, without  informing hosts or sponsors of the Energy Expo.

Bonnie Peterson is said to be the person responsible for inviting Casey to speak, without informing hosts or sponsors of the Energy Expo.

Neither Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster nor Teresa Coons, Executive Director of the John McConnell Math and Science Center, were consulted or informed about the controversial speaker that members of small Expo subcommittee quietly selected to keynote this year’s Club 20 Energy Expo in Grand Junction.

John L. Casey, slated to give the keynote talk at this Friday’s Energy Expo, has alarmed citizens with his extreme fringe views.

In videos of his talks publicly available online, Casey tells audiences that man-made climate change is a scientific fraud perpetrated by the U.S. Government and the United Nations. He says global warming has ended, that in 2007 the sun entered a “hibernation” phase and now we have to prepare for a coming ice age that will devastate our food supply. In a November, 2014 video, Casey predicts dire food shortages worldwide. He urges people to lay in a full year’s supply of food to cope with it, telling people to ignore the expiration dates printed on food containers. He predicts that the diminished food supply will lead to massive social panic and tells his audiences that they need to get ready to defend their food stores from rioters, murderers and thieves. His mission is to “get the message out” about the purported coming devastation.

George Rossman, one of the three committee members responsible for inviting Casey to speak

George Rossman, one of the three committee members responsible for inviting Casey to speak

The Tea Party News Network bills Casey as a “climatologist,” and though he has made a name for himself speaking and writing about climate science, he has no degrees in climatology, nor has he ever published any peer-reviewed research on the topic. He is a favorite speaker of Florida tea party groups, and available videos invariably show him speaking before far-right conservative audiences and talk show hosts.

Foster and Coons are both quick say that their organizations have not contributed any money to the Energy Expo, but neither has stepped up to condemn the invitation of Casey.

Casey was selected to speak by a three person subset the committee that organized the Energy Expo. Members of this committee reportedly are Bonnie Peterson, former chair of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and now Executive Director of the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado, Kathy Hall, a former lobbyist for the Colorado Oil and Gas Association and George Rossman (who is a woman), a professional event organizer. None of these committee members informed the Expo’s hosts or sponsors about their choices of speakers prior to finalizing the schedule.

There are only two possibilities these women could claim that led to selection of this embarassing speaker: 1) They were fully aware of Casey’s fringe views and lack of credentials, and invited him anyway, or 2) they didn’t properly vet Casey prior to hiring him to keynote the event.

Neither scenario is acceptable.

If the first scenario is true, then these three acting alone pulled the Energy Expo into the tea party political fringe zone without informing the hosts or sponsors whose organizations’ names appear on Expo promotional materials about their choices.

If the second scenario is true, they neglected a duty to vet Mr. Casey by checking out his previous talks, and should be held accountable for this mistake and the shame it has brought to the event.

The event’s biosketch of Casey, whichi says up front that he’s been called a scam artist and a fraud, would seem to indicate scenario #1 is the case, and that Peterson, Hall and Rossman knew exactly what they were doing, and what they were bringing to the Expo by inviting Casey.CaseyEnergyForum

Event hosts Colorado Mountain College, CMU and the Math and Science Center, may not have contributed any money to the event, but they have put their credibility as respected educational institutions on the line. By trusting the Expo organizers, they’ve shot themselves in the foot. In exchange for lending their names to the event, the organizers have dragged them into the mud by purposely choosing a wacky, fringe tea party speaker who trades on generating fear to make a name for himself.

 

 

 

G.J. Energy Expo Keynote Speaker is a Tea Party “Clown Act”

 

John L. Casey, who will be a featured speaker at this year's G.J. Energy Expo, gives a talk titled "Man Made Global Warming: The Biggest Scientific Fraud in History" to a tea party group in Florida

John L. Casey, a featured speaker at this year’s G.J. Energy Expo, gives a talk titled “Man Made Global Warming: The Biggest Scientific Fraud in History” to a tea party group in Florida

Club 20 is outing itself as a tea party group, and in so doing joins the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce in shedding any pretense of being politically even-handed. Unfortunately, it looks like the same can now also be said for Colorado Mountain College, Colorado Mesa University and the other hosts and sponsors of the Club 20 Energy Expo and Forum.

Club 20’s annual Energy Expo and Forum is scheduled to be held at Grand Junction’s Two Rivers Convention Center February 27, and the keynote speaker at this year’s event is raising lots of eyebrows.

He is global warming conspiracy theorist John L. Casey.

The Energy Expo is dominated by extractive energy pursuits, like drilling and fracking, but that is nothing new. It is hosted by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce (already a well-established arm of the local tea party), Club 20, Colorado Mesa University, Colorado Mountain College and the John McConnell Math and Science Center.

Given the respect for education and level of intelligence the public expects of at least some of the above sponsors (CMC, CMU and the Math and Science Center), members of the public are left scratching their heads about how such a nutty keynote speaker got selected this year.

G.J.’s North Desert Trashed by Off-Road Vehicles, Shooting, Dumping

Off-roaders revel in tearing up the North Desert area after rain and snow, creating rutted mud pits for fun.

Off-roaders revel in tearing up the North Desert area after rain and snow, creating rutted mud pits for fun.

If you want tourists, friends and family to see the best our area has to offer, whatever you do, don’t take them up 27 1/4 Road into the desert north of H Road. While the panoramas from the north desert area are spectacular, this formerly stark and beautiful range of mancos shale hills running along the base of Grand Junction’s iconic Bookcliffs is now defaced from virtually end to end with trash dumps, mud ruts, shotgun shells and makeshift religious memorials to people who have died out there in accidents.

What used to be a marvelous place for a long, peaceful walk with your dog, is now so disappointing it tries the soul.

An airplane flies over areas on BLM land where shooting is permitted, right underneath the takeoff/landing patterns for G.J. Regional Airport

An airplane flies over BLM land where shooting is permitted underneath the takeoff/landing patterns for G.J. Regional Airport

Since the shooting range opened several miles out on 27 1/4 Road, and since the North Desert started being included on OHV (off-highway vehicle) maps, the area has turned ugly. It’s also a more dangerous place for peaceful users, like walkers, bikers and horseback riders.

Recipe for Disaster: Colorado Riverfront Trail Users Unprotected from Gunfire

The morning sun glistens on the Colorado River on the Monument View section, where hunters are allowed to shoot at birds in the very same vicinity where paths beckon people to run, walk and bike by to the river.

The morning sun glistens on the Colorado River on the Monument View section, where hunters are allowed to shoot in the same vicinity where people run, walk and bike by the river.

The Colorado Riverfront Trail is a huge asset to Mesa County citizens’ quality of life. It beckons residents and tourist to run, walk and bike amid the beautiful scenery alongside the river.

But frequently gunfire occurs around parts of the paths located outside City limits. Many times the sound of loud gunfire next to the path has reduced my dog to a quivering, drooling mass of fear. He digs in his toenails, shakes uncontrollably, refuses to walk any more and has to be lifted or dragged away from the area. The gunfire turns an otherwise pleasant, enjoyable time on the path into a nightmare for us and our dog, and cuts short the time we usually reserve for our morning walk. We have to drag the dog back to the car, leave the area and find somewhere else to walk where he — and we — don’t feel threatened.

So many of our riverfront walks have been ruined this way, I start to wonder why we ever go back. I have quietly wondered, too, if my dog is justified in being so frightened, and whether I should be a bit more concerned for my own safety.

Based on what I found out, I absolutely should.

On the Monument View section of trail, about 1/2 mile east of the Walker Wildlife parking area, there are two small, ominous signs — one facing in either direction — that say “Active Hunting Area. Please stay on trail and respect hunter’s rights.” But what, exactly, does this mean to people using the trail? The signs don’t say what to do if gunfire comes your way. They give no assurance you will not be hit by errant gunfire while on the trail. It doesn’t say where the hunters are or in what direction they shoot. It doesn’t give the dates of hunting seasons or point to protective barriers or cover.

Time to Wind Down Open Burning in Mesa County

Spring open burning at G and 26 Roads create a traffic hazard as well as a respiratory hazard for many residents.

Spring open burning at G and 26 Roads created a significant traffic hazard as well as a respiratory hazard for many residents.

It’s another beautiful fall day in Mesa County, but it’s also the time when rabbitbrush, ragweed, juniper and other potent local allergens fill the air with pollen, making fall miserable for thousands of people who suffer from allergies. Add to this mix the clouds of black smoke from open burning that envelope entire neighborhoods, and beautiful fall days turn into days of utter despair for many western Colorado residents.

With a wide variety of retirement housing and the biggest medical center between Denver and Salt Lake, Grand Junction is a mecca for retirees. But many retirees who settle here have some degree of heart or lung disease, making them more susceptible to breathing problems and medical emergencies caused by exposure to smoke from open burning. Even healthy people who have never had a heart or lung diagnosis during their lifetime can count on losing up to 25 percent of their lung function as they age, making them more susceptible to health problems from air pollution.

A surprising number of people in Mesa County have respiratory or cardiac diseases, or use supplemental oxygen at home for heart or lung disease. In 2009, 7.5 percent of Mesa County children ages 1-14 reported having asthma, and 9.4 percent of adults in Mesa County reported having asthma during 2008-2010. In 2011, fully 58 people per 100,000 in Mesa County died from chronic lower respiratory diseases like emphysema and chronic bronchitis, and 159 people per 100,000 died from cardiovascular disease. Both of these disease states are exacerbated by exposure to air filled with smoke.

Open Burning Causes More Problems and Expense than it Solves

Contrary to popular local belief, open burning doesn’t get rid of yard or farm waste. It just changes the waste into another form — smoke — and pumps it into the air for everyone else to deal with. With burn permits ranging from just $5 to $15 per season locally (depending on the jurisdiction) the pricing of burn permits doesn’t come close covering the cost of putting out even one runaway fire caused by careless burning. From the frequent stench of the night time air, it’s also obvious that lots of people aren’t even bothering to buy permits, and instead burn illegally after dark. An obvious step cities can take to cover the cost of putting out out-of-control fires from open burning and reduce the amount of burning taking place would be to simply raise the ridiculously low price of the burn permits — something that hasn’t been done in many years.

CO Senate District 7: Claudette Konola vs. Ray Scott, the Club 20 Debate in Full

Many Mesa County residents noticed the almost complete lack of local media coverage of the Club 20 debate between the candidates for Colorado’s State Senate District 7, Claudette Konola (D) and Ray Scott (R). The Daily Sentinel offered only one short quote from each candidate, and the local television stations ignored this important debate completely. In the interest of helping western Colorado citizens get adequately informed about the Senate District 7 candidates, we offer a two-part video (credit: Bill Hugenberg) and a transcript of the Senate District 7 candidates’ debate.

Petition: Change the Name of “McInnis Canyons” back to Previous Name

NoMcInnisCanyonsA new Change.org petition asks to revert “McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area” back to its original name, “Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area.” The federal land was renamed in 2005 for then-sitting Congressman Scott McInnis. Prior to that time, no federal conservation area was ever named for a person. Under U.S. tradition, they have been named only after geographic features.  The area was also previously known as the Black Ridge Wilderness Study Area, after Black Ridge, the highest point above the Colorado National Monument.

When the change of name happened in 2005 it was a surprise to most Coloradans. It came about after an Oregon congressman mysteriously introduced a bill to change the area’s name to honor McInnis in 2004. The bill’s only co-sponsor was another congressman from California. Coloradans were unaware that the bill had been introduced. Neither of the congressman who sponsored the bill sought the opinion or consensus of Coloradans for the change. No one knows why these two out-of-state Congressmen initiated the change, and Coloradans remain unclear why it happened.