Letters to the editor

Dear editor,

Re: Lessons

To Senators Cornyn, Cruz and 23rd District Representative Hurd:

“I strongly oppose the President’s nominee, Ronald D. Vitiello, deputy director and acting director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), to lead the agency on a full-time basis, https://www.executivegov.com/2018/08/ronald-vitiello-to-be-nominated-ice-director/. Grounds include:

1) The President instituted an inhuman “Zero Tolerance” policy against persons seeking legal asylum at the Southern border earlier this year resulting in forced separations and caging children. Vitiello oversaw its implementation!

2) The President recently identified himself as a “Nationalist” notwithstanding the ideology’s destructive cultural and socio-political legacy. Europe experienced more than enough of it with the Third Reich’s genocidal crimes and 1990s Serbian “Ethnic Cleansing”. Blessedly, French President Macron rebuked him before other world leaders. It is America’s duty to do the same.

3) Nazism provided important lessons. The world demanded justice!” The Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunals said: “I was just following orders” is not a defense for crimes against humanity.

4) What was Ronald Vitiello’s reason for executing “Zero Tolerance” caging of innocent children? “Just following orders” or it came naturally?

5) The world needs America’s human rights leadership!

6) Did we learn anything as witnesses to nationalism’s uncompromising cruelty? Not if Vitiello’s appointment is confirmed!

Hear the voice of the American people soundly rejecting the President’s divisive ways in the midterm elections. Deny him Vitiello’s nomination.”

Please call and/or write your Senators (and Representative). Then share.

Rev. Barry Abraham Zavah


• •

Dear editor,

The EPA Hearings on Trump’s proposal to weaken methane and VOC emission regulations happened last week in Denver, Colorado, and I was lucky enough to be there to represent the Big Bend. Because of Earthworks I was able to speak out in person, but every person nationwide has this same opportunity via online or written pubic comments.

I can’t stress how important this is to our region. Already, on days when the wind blows from the north or when temperature differentials cause inversion and basin effect, we are seeing layers of smog and/or opaque haze of ozone. It is especially visible to those at higher elevations like those in the Davis Mountains Resort. Smog and ozone not only impact the visibility of our beautiful landscape but impact our respiratory systems causing increased problems with breathing, headaches, coughing, sneezing, and sometimes lethargy.

At the hearings these symptoms were described repeatedly by people across the country—Ohio, Pennsylvania, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, North Dakota, Colorado—telling stories of life near oil and gas facilities. Their stories are similar to our friends Sue and Jim Franklin of Balmorhea and some were worse. A young boy was allowed to give public comment. He bravely managed to tell the story of his sister’s death. Emissions from oil and gas facilities contain toxins that can be deadly.

We have the opportunity to demand highest quality protection not less from oil and gas industry emissions. Permian Basin extraction is expanding deeper into our pristine region. Apache Corp already has 51 producing wells in the Alpine High and has plans for 3000 more. Right now, a cryogenic plant is being built in Balmorhea.

The current proposal will allow industry to monitor sites for leaks less frequently (once a year or every other year), will give them more time to make repairs (they already get at least 30 days) and will allow in-house uncertified engineers to approve certain equipment necessary for reducing emissions rather than only certified expert engineers.

The EPA acknowledged to the Denver Post that these rollbacks will allow at least 380,000 additional tons of methane into the atmosphere, exactly the opposite of what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says we need to do to combat climate change. Methane is a 86x more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2. EPA’s estimated increase is inaccurate because there is no available comprehensive data on emissions from all oil and gas infrastructure partly because most leaks are not reported or monitored. In Texas the EPA depends on TCEQ to regulate. TCEQ depends on citizens and operators to report and don’t investigate and regulate unless someone has made a complaint. I see this through the optical gas imaging camera each time I go in the field with Earthworks.

Please submit your public comments. The deadline is December 17, 2018.

Go to earthworks.org and click Take Action! or www.regulations.govand type the Docket ID EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0483 in the search box.

For more information on the amendments go to epa.gov and search for EPA Proposes Amendments to the 2016 New Source Performance Standards for the Oil and Natural Gas Industry: Fact Sheet

Allowing increased methane emissions is exactly the opposite of what we need to do to combat climate change.

Thank you,

Lori Glover

Big Bend Defense Coaliton