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Letters to the editor

Therese, Rocky Rocamora

These thoughts are a little late, as we were away and belatedly saw Butch Mazzuca’s commentary of May 12 titled “We need an energy policy now.” While we do not always agree with Butch, his comments are generally well written and thought out. Which begs the question: Butch, what are you thinking when you made the statement “ANWR is not the pristine wilderness some environmentalists make it out to be. In reality it’s Alaskan tundra.”?Merriam Webster defines wilderness as “a tract or region uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings. An area essentially undisturbed by human activity together with it’s naturally developed life community.” ANWR is an acronym for Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The National Wildlife Refuge system is different in that it was created specifically to protect the nation’s plants and animals. Just over 100 years ago President Theodore Roosevelt began setting aside wild places for the wild things. Not for people! For the ecosystems and environments! This has evolved into the NWR system, encompassing approximately 540 refuges covering some 95 million acres of swamp, forest, shoreline, water, desert, tundra, rock and marshlands in every state and many U.S. territories. It is a conservation miracle that this nation should be both proud and protective of. It should remain true to its mandate. By law, wildlife protection has priority over other refuge uses. ANWR is not pristine wilderness? You discount it as Alaskan tundra. Tundra doesn’t count? There are ecosystems above timberline that are alpine tundra. That fragile and cold ecosystem that we see in these mountains every day is both tundra and wilderness.By the way, Butch, not all of ANWR is tundra. The refuge is 19.6 million acres of rivers, mountains, canyons and complexity of life that boggles the mind. Forty-five species of land and marine mammals, 36 species of fish and 180 species of birds call ANWR home for either all or parts of the year. And 19.6 million acres seems like an awful lot. Those in favor of recovering the oil on the coastal plain will tell you that it won’t hurt to take just a little of that tundra that doesn’t count anyway. One and a half million acres of coastal plain is designated AREA 1002, and this contains the petroleum and gas resources that is subject to exploration and recovery. This nation is selling our very soul over reliance on oil. Instead of legislating drilling, we should be legislating more efficient use of energy and alternatives to petroleum. We should have been doing it 30 years ago. Certainly we won’t be looking to this administration to do anything unless it leans toward oil.ANWR is the largest unbroken ecosystem of arctic and sub-arctic wilderness (yes, wilderness) left on this planet. Can’t we humans ever just leave something alone? Especially when we said we would leave it alone in the first place? Whatever your opinion on the ANWR debate, denying the wildness and complexity of the place seems pretty ignorant. Seems like weak and petty reasoning to use as a justification drilling in ANWR.Therese, Rocky Rocamora Good intentionsDon Rogers describes a shiver of dread at discovering an unsuspected link between the MS-13 gangsters and your area in “Too close to home.” When you dodge a bullet, it’s time and past time to take a look at what your kind intentions may lead to your haven. To recoin an old saying, “good intentions pave the way to … California.” How many in your community are refugees from the increasing chaos in California? Becoming dependent on the false economy of an illegal labor force opens the door through which the snakes can slither. Calling those who warn of the consequences bigots or xenophobes is small protection from the gangs that grow within those shadow communities, as many California communities have found to their sorrow. Barbara VickroyEscondidoGeneralizationsPolitical extremists on both sides distort reality to their own advantage. Some would have us believe that all conservatives and republicans are religious crusaders. We are not. Yes, there is a large and loud faction of such fanatics within the Republican Party, but they are NOT the majority. Such extremists do disservice to their respective parties.Contrary to popular opinion, many of us who declare ourselves to be conservatives and Republicans support the teaching of evolution as science and keeping creationism in all its forms out of the science curriculum. Throughout history there have been many creation mythologies, NONE of which have anything to do with science. Religions and their various creation mythologies are certainly valid subjects of study, but they are best addressed in a social studies curriculum.Many conservative Republicans also acknowledge that our nation and our government were not founded on, nor are our laws based on, Judeo-Christian beliefs. We know there is no mention of deities made in either the Constitution for the United States of America, or the Bill of Rights, and that these two documents supplant all documents that preceded. We also know that the only references to religion in these documents assert that government has no business meddling in religion, and that no religious test shall be required to hold any office. In addition, since absolutely nothing in any Judeo-Christian-Islamic texts advocates our form of government it is absurd to claim any relationship exists.Many conservative Republicans also support a woman’s right to choose, and we support stem cell research. It must be noted that President Bush also supports stem cell research. His decision to provide $250 million to fund stem cell research on existing lines was a brilliant compromise. The viciously anti-Bush crowd still manages to complain, but they seem to forget that politics is all about compromise. No one on either side even bothers to consider the questionable constitutionality of the government spending tax revenues on such research, but I digress.In conclusion, we must all recognize that the most vocal members of any political party or group do not necessarily represent the majority. All conservatives and Republicans are not Bible-thumping zealots, and all liberals and Democrats are not spendthrift moon bats. At least we hope not. Thomas Anderson The religious leftThere’s a lot of talk about the religious right. But how many times have you seen the media refer to the religious left?Deacon F. Jay Vocelka is an example of the latter. He has been writing about the nuclear weapons issue, presenting a left wing point of view. He says he is relating Catholic policy. At his suggestion, I checked out the Web site for the U.S. Conference Of Catholic Bishops. Some of it is unobjectionable – purely religious issues. Some parts may dismay fellow leftists, like its positions on abortion and stem cell research. Other parts merely reflect the same left wing view on issues like gun control and the military as one would find in secular left wing sources.Neither Vocelka nor the USCCB Web site dealt with the basic issue I have raised, which is – the fallacy of pacifism and the folly of unilateral nuclear disarmament. Pacifism doesn’t work unless everyone else does it, too. Otherwise, what you get is a lot of victims. Sometimes armed force is necessary to preserve what is right and good. It is OK to try to get others to scale down their armaments and desist from aggression. But too often the desire for peace gets out of hand, and we are asked to believe in the good faith of those who don’t deserve it. In his dealings with the Soviet Union, Ronald Reagan said: Trust, but verify. We face this problem today, in dealing with North Korea and Iran about their nuclear programs. It is my position that what will get them to back off from dangerous action will not be their sense of good will, but rather, their fear of consequences from the U.S. That’s what kept the Soviets at bay during the Cold War.To present a credible deterrent now, as in the past, we need to have weaponry that is state of the art. It’s bad to get into a gunfight if all you’ve got is a club. That’s why Vocelka and the Catholic Bishops are wrong to oppose present plans to update our nuclear weapons. Something else came to mind as I was going through the USCCB’s Web site. I noticed the clear involvement of this body in political action. It has an Office of Government Liaison. In its pieces on current political issues, it urges you to contact members of Congress, and tells you how.The reason I bring this up is that the left is quick to condemn involvement by religious groups in politics when they promote conservative views. Think of abortion, gay rights, evolution vs creationism, Ten Commandment displays and the like. Read some of Matt Zalaznik’s columns, like the one on May 12, still available on the Vail Daily Web site. Pretty hard on the religious right. Do you expect him to condemn Deacon Vocelka or the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, for their political activism?Remember this when the left trots out its concern for the separation of church and state. Despite the high-toned rhetoric, it’s just part of their bag of tricks. They don’t apply it to people like the Berrigan brothers, or the Rev. Jesse Jackson, or the Rev. Al Sharpton, or those nuns who vandalized missile silos. Much less Deacon Vocelka and the USCCB. Terry QuinnEagleEfficiencyNow that the Legislature has adjourned it is fitting to take a moment and thank our legislators for their hard work. In particular, thank you to Sen. Taylor for supporting solution-oriented smart energy efficiency policy.Sen. Taylor voted in support of House Bill 1133, encouraging energy efficiency in Colorado. Improving energy efficiency means reducing the amount of energy used in our state without needing to change our lifestyle. HB 1133 would encourage utilities to implement natural gas efficiency programs like upgrades on hot water heaters or home energy audits. HB 1133 is currently waiting for action by our Gov. Owens and we encourage him to support this common sense policy. When passed into law it has the potential to save Colorado households $700 million.Stephanie BoninVail, Colorado


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