Science

Colorado Editorial Roundup

Posted August 9

The Daily Sentinel, Aug. 9, on Trump Administration needing to take climate change seriously:

Science says hydraulic fracturing is safe when done properly. Science says wildfires are essential to restoring the ecological health of forests. Science says human activity is increasing global temperatures, leading to potentially catastrophic climate change.

Yet science is hardly the last word on any issue. Otherwise, there would be no anti-fracking activists, no expensive fire-suppression policies enacted by federal agencies and no climate-change doubters.

A report leaked Tuesday by scientists within the federal government concludes that Americans are already feeling the effects of climate change. Included in the evidence: The average temperature in the United States has risen rapidly and drastically since 1980.

"Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change," the scientists wrote in a draft obtained by The New York Times.

Fearful that the Trump administration might try to suppress the report, scientists took a page out of Trump's playbook and took their findings directly to the public.

This end-around will likely have zero impact on an administration that has already enacted regulatory moves designed to roll back reductions on emissions and speed up drilling and mining on federal lands —not to mention withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate treaty.

There was ample evidence of climate change before this report. New information or an amplification of previous findings will only push climate change doubters further into a corner. They either have to continue ignoring real scientific findings or accept increased regulation of a key economic sector.

It doesn't have to be that way. Accepting nearly universally held scientific conclusions would be the first step in addressing the problem rationally and offering market-based alternatives to the government-control demands of radical climate activists.

But that debate can't happen in an anti-science environment. The longer conservatives wait to acknowledge that climate change is occurring as a result of human action, the fewer opportunities to stave off extreme measures: cap-and-trade scenarios, carbon taxes or government rationing of energy sources.

Ignoring the evidence now could mean expensive investments down the road. How many dikes and levees will be required to save coastal cities from rising seas? In Colorado, rising temperatures could threaten the ski industry, the water supply and our forests, making them more susceptible to insect infestations and fires. Streamflows are under threat. All of this comes with a real cost.

As we've long asserted, the conservative position should be mitigating future risk with measured action now. Responsible politicians of all stripes must impress upon the presidential administration the extreme penalty for failing to take climate change seriously.

Editorial: http://bit.ly/2upxwI2

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The Denver Post, Aug. 8, on Stapleton's fundraising scheme breaching public sentiment:

Walker Stapleton, the Colorado treasurer, has attracted front-page attention for a novel strategy to raise big bucks for a likely gubernatorial run. While his move can be viewed as an understandable and inevitable outgrowth of the reality of how tangled campaign finance laws corrupt our politics, we wish the treasurer had set a better example and not led us down this path — for others surely will follow.

As The Denver Post's Mark K. Matthews reported, the Republican plans to appear at a high-dollar fundraiser Aug. 21 on behalf of BetterColoradoNow, an independent expenditure committee that seeks to cause trouble for Democratic candidates. Stapleton is doing so even though he hasn't made his candidacy official. His coyness allows him to avoid rules that prohibit cooperation between such committees and candidates.

We argue that Stapleton's planned workaround violates the spirit of the law and the clear expectation of Colorado voters, who have consistently sought to set strict limits on political fundraising. Such dodges add to the reasons voters feel down in their bones that the system is falling apart.

That said, Stapleton would be a strong candidate for governor, and his decision to appear at the BetterColoradoNow fundraiser could be reversed. Whatever he chooses to do, we admit the forces that have driven him to this point are relentless.

Should he enter the race, Stapleton would face a field with wealthy candidates on the left and the right willing to contribute millions to their campaigns, which they are free to do under the law. Then there is the fact that other candidates will also benefit from independent expenditure committees, albeit presumably formed once they have made their interest official, free to raise enormous war chests.

Against this backdrop, other laws in Colorado greatly restrict the amount of money a candidate for governor and other top elected positions can raise for their own campaigns.

With Amendment 27, Colorado voters made abundantly clear they wanted to rein in cash in politics. Overwhelmingly passed in 2002, the law presently caps individual gifts to gubernatorial candidates at $1,150. That's one of the lowest limits in the country, and experts question whether such anemic allowances could survive a court challenge that argued the strictures violate constitutional free speech protections. (Lawmakers should consider posing the question of more reasonable limits to voters in the coming session.)

The bottom line here is that Colorado's limits make it tough for a statewide race. The result is that, even if a candidate has a strong message, it can easily be lost to the better-funded campaigns — even friendly ones — that end up defining the race according to their interests.

None of that strikes us as true to the spirit of the democratic process: a point Stapleton and his sympathizers could legitimately make against us.

If all that sounds confusing — we're talking about arcane campaign finance questions after all - one thing should be clear: By going down this path, Stapleton is brushing away any pretense of keeping an arm's length from BetterColoradoNow. Should he keep playing this game to fill its coffers, voters will be justified in holding Stapleton accountable for the committee's messaging.

Unless, of course, he changes his mind and asks organizers to skip the shindig until he's actually in the race.

Editorial: http://dpo.st/2vjWvex

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The Durango Herald, Aug. 7, on needing to consider more than political expedience in controlling pollutant:

In June, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that the Trump administration would give states an extra year to comply with stricter ozone standards enacted by the Obama administration in 2015. On Aug. 2, Pruitt again reversed course, saying the rule would take effect after all.

That's good news for people who breathe. It's also good news for our tourism economy which depends upon clear skies and viewsheds.

The issue is tremendously complicated. Ozone in the stratosphere provides a shield from ultraviolet radiation. That beneficial ozone layer has been partially destroyed by manmade chemicals, although the hole in the ozone layer is shrinking.

At ground level, ozone is a harmful pollutant that can trigger a variety of health problems, especially for children, the elderly and people of all ages who have asthma or other lung diseases. Ground-level ozone occurs when pollutants emitted by cars, industrial plants and other sources - in this region, particularly coal-fired power plants - chemically react in the presence of sunlight. The result is smog.

But, in another layer of complexity, ozone targets are more difficult to meet for high-elevations cities, including Colorado's Front Range, and in desert states like Arizona with a high level of naturally occurring ozone. Wind can move ozone over long distances.

Enforcing any ozone standard primarily involves punitive actions such as fines for cities and stawtes where the limit is exceeded. Pruitt said he would work with officials in those places.

When the Obama administration tightened the ozone limit, a coalition of states and industry leaders filed suit. When the Trump administration delayed implementation, a coalition of different states and environmental organizations filed suit. Throughout that process, the concept of protecting Americans from air pollution without crippling industry and eliminating jobs has been a political football, kicked back and forth.

Under Obama, EPA officials believed that ground-level ozone could be reduced through sensible measures. President Donald Trump, however, opposes almost any government action that would reduce employment or industry profitability and has shown little interest in, or even acknowledgement of, related problems. He has promised to bring back coal, and that goal simply is not compatible with ozone reductions.

This isn't the way environmental protections should be handled. How refreshing it would be if both parties brought the concerns of their political bases to the table with scientists who actually understand the problem, which is not as intractable as it lately has seemed.

Balance can be found, if enough stakeholders are interested in trying.

The day before the two-year anniversary of the Gold King Mine spill, Scott Pruitt, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, visited our region with a solid message: The Superfund program, and its continued funding, is the agency's priority.

That was good news for all involved, especially our local delegation of elected officials that lobbied in Washington, D.C. in June. President Trump has proposed cutting the agency's Superfund budget by 30 percent and they came home feeling good, but tentative, with no commitments. Pruitt's local presence on Friday signals something different, and hopeful.

By taking responsibility for the spill, recognizing that claims were not handled well (he announced they will be re-opened) and opening up his visit to a broader array of stakeholders, it was an opportunity for the agency to shine and make things right - for affected communities and our beloved Animas River.

It was important too that Gov. Hickenlooper (D-Denver), Sen.s Bennet (D-Denver) and Gardner (R-Yuma) and Rep. Tipton (R-Cortez) were present. This effort has always been about people and the river, not politics. Let's keep it that way.

Editorial: http://bit.ly/2umpwTY

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The Gazette, Aug. 6, on why Broncos should not sign Colin Kaepernick:

As the Denver Broncos' two quarterbacks underwhelm in training camp, sports media stars have increased pressure on Executive Vice President John Elway and other team management to sign NFL reject Colin Kaepernick.

The Broncos should not, under any level of desperation, sign free agent Kaepernick.

If Kaepernick takes the field for the Broncos, fans will walk away. Some won't come back. We even predict an organized boycott, and that is a business issue our Broncos' front office needs to consider seriously.

Kaepernick is the spoiled brat best known for disrespecting the American flag by taking a knee during "The Star-Spangled Banner." Craving even more attention, he showed up at the 49ers training camp wearing socks adorned with pigs in police uniforms.

A handful of activist sports writers take pleasure in lauding his "courage," even characterizing him as a patriot.

If disrespecting the flag is noble, we should teach children to thank veterans and law enforcement by burning flags in the street. Try as they may, politicized sports commentators cannot twist dishonor into honor.

Kaepernick has the legal right to disrespect the flag. In exercising this right, he disrespects all the flag stands for, including Americans who fought and died to establish and defend the country of opportunity that made him famous, rich, safe and free.

Kaepernick has no right to fan support, which is earned through good character on and off the field. He has no right to stake an offensive stance without enduring the consequence of public derision.

Sports commentators have compared Kaepernick to another controversial player, former Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. Like Kaepernick, Tebow gained acceptance and notoriety for taking a knee.

Just as Kaepernick knelt for the national anthem, Tebow knelt to thank "my lord and savior Jesus Christ" - win or lose.

The two expressions are not the same. Tebow knelt to honor that which is sacred to billions of humans around the globe. Fans respect athletes who honor Jesus, Muhammad or any other subject beyond themselves.

Fans take offense when a man of privilege, someone making more in a year than the average fan makes in a lifetime, takes a knee to disrespect that which symbolizes the country that made his fabled life possible.

At issue is character. People of high character give thanks, while those of low character find something to gripe about.

By disrespecting the flag and the national anthem, Kaepernick put anti-American activism ahead of his job. He made himself a distraction, a business liability and called into question his interest in playing football. NFL management has no obligation to tolerate it.

Questionable character is good enough reasons to reject signing Kaepernick. Additionally, the Broncos should consider what he might bring to the field.

"Years have passed since he was an effective quarterback," wrote ESPN Media Zone analyst Kevin Seifert. "He is 29 years old, has succeeded only in an unsustainable scheme and is part of a well-populated group of former starters who also remained available."

Seifert explains how Kaepernick's only real success came during San Francisco's read-option scheme from 2012-14.

"Even then, Kaepernick was one of the league's least-accurate quarterbacks," Seifert explains. "His 60.1 completion percentage ranked No. 23 in the NFL, and his percentage of off-target throws - judged on video by ESPN Stats & Information - ranked No. 18 (17.6 percent)."

Elway loves his country and gives thanks for all it has done for him. He and his coaching staff should not get confused in a rush to find a quarterback. Kaepernick is bad for business. He would come at a devastating cost for years to come.

Editorial: http://bit.ly/2uGT4v3

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