- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The (Greeley) Tribune, Jan. 23, on flu prevention measures taking on increased importance this season:

We would say something like, “It’s that time of year again,” but we’d be lying.

This year’s flu season has shaped up to be something much worse than what’s typical.

As predicted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health care officials across the country are reporting a large increase in the number of flu cases they’ve treated so far this season, and northern Colorado is no different.

This past December saw 47 people in Weld County hospitalized for the flu compared with just eight in 2016. Just this week, Larimer County opened an investigation into what could be the first flu death of the season there.

In short, it’s been a bad year for the flu so far, and the worst may be yet to come. The season, which runs from October through April, tends to peak in February. So there’s a good chance things will get worse before they get better.

That’s why we implore Weld residents - and people everywhere else, for that matter - to take preventive measures to avoid becoming part of the unfortunate statistics that undoubtedly will be used to describe the severity of this flu season.

For us, that prevention starts with getting a flu shot. It’s important to remember getting a flu shot isn’t just for you; it’s for those around you. Getting a shot is the best thing you can do to prevent spreading the illness.

We know, getting one can be a pain and - as is the case this year - they aren’t always effective against the most aggressive strains. But we don’t have a lot of options when it comes to fighting a virus. In this case, flu shots are pretty much the most direct way to do so. So even considering the negatives we mentioned, the positives of a flu shot still easily tip the scales in that direction, especially in a year when the consequences that come from contracting the flu could be much more severe than in normal years.

There are other things we can do to help prevent the spread of the flu: Wash our hands a lot; use hand sanitizer; make sure to get a lot of vitamin C and zinc.

And if you do get the flu, the best thing you can do is stay home from work, school and public places like stores. It can be hard to resist the urge to try and tough it out, but it’s not worth risking exposure to healthy folks.

We realize these are precautions you’re probably so used to hearing every year that they might not even register anymore.

But this isn’t every year when it comes to the flu. We encourage Weld residents to act accordingly.

Editorial: http://bit.ly/2F6qsB1


The (Colorado Springs) Gazette, Jan. 23, on global warming bill’s impact on jobs:

There they go again. Working people should lose high-wage jobs. Low-income households should pay more for home heating fuel and gasoline. Anything to stop global warming.

Rep. Mike Foote and Sen. Matt Jones, each a Boulder County Democrat, introduced Senate Bill 18-048 because “oil and gas methane emissions contribute to global warming.” They also “release carcinogenic gases that may cause acute myeloid Leukemia and possibly acute lymphocytic leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” as explained in the bill’s list of horribles.

That’s not all. Energy production releases “toxic gases that may cause adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife. The toxic gases also help cause ozone, which may aggravate chronic lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, and bronchitis.”

“The Walking Dead” becomes real if Boulder and Longmont can’t ban fracking.

The bill would empower local governments to “exercise land use authority over oil and gas facilities.”

The bill attempts to overturn law that allows local control of energy production only in areas of “state interest,” as designated by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Foote and Jones introduced the bill in reaction to a 2016 ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court that overturned a fracking moratorium in Fort Collins and a ban in Longmont. The case began when then-Attorney General John Suthers, today the mayor of Colorado Springs, sued Longmont for banning fracking in 2012. Justices unanimously ruled any local moratorium or ban “materially impedes” state authority to regulate energy production.

Last year’s ruling built on the state Supreme Court’s 1992 ruling against Greeley’s municipal fracking ban.

The U.S. and Colorado constitutions protect property rights. They do so for good reason. Property rights are essential to ensuring investments that create energy and jobs that keep people in food, shelter and clothing. A mineral right is nothing other than a property right.

Senate Bill 18-048 ignores the requirement of governments to protect property rights. Instead, it lists “rights” the Boulder politicians consider more important.

“The protection of citizens’ public safety, health, and welfare is the highest responsibility of government and is a fundamental right,” the bill argues.

Even if true, governments can certainly find safety, health and welfare problems more threatening than fracking wells.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment last year assessed more than 10,000 air quality samples taken near oil and gas operations. The study found concentrations of toxins, surrounding oil and gas wells, are lower than standard limits set by the EPA for short- and long-term exposure.

Even some Boulder County activists think the bill is futile form of political pandering.

“While the Protect Act may read agreeably, its function is only political,” said Cliff Willmeng, of East Boulder County United, as quoted in the Longmont Observer.

The bill receives its first hearing Jan 29, in the Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee, which should kill it.

Fracking provides six-figure jobs for working-class Coloradans, while making the U.S. the world leader in natural gas production and a rival to Saudi Arabian oil production.

The fracking revolution has done more to reduce poverty and raise standards of living than any social program government could devise. The industry requires property rights, which cannot be stomped on by pandering politicians with exaggerated fears of global warming and pestilence.

Editorial: http://bit.ly/2Dw5kUi


The Denver Post, Jan. 23, on a statewide tax on plastic bags:

What if you could create affordable housing options in Colorado and fight pollution all at the same time?

A measure before Colorado lawmakers - House Bill 1054 - seeks to charge shoppers a tax on plastic bags and use the revenue to provide affordable housing solutions. If passed, the measure would go to voters, as required by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

A perfect defense for supporters is that opponents will sound hard-hearted, anti-green and just plain mean. Still, we think this is a terrible idea.

HB 1054 strikes us more as an effort to burnish progressive credentials on the part of its sponsors - Rep. Paul Rosenthal and Sen. Lois Court, both Democrats - than serious legislation. This is a message bill, a get-out-the-vote effort to rally Democrats and make life difficult for Republicans who will rightly see it as a distraction from sound fiscal policy and hurtful for business owners and everyday Coloradans alike.

We say so despite our support for government efforts to build and maintain affordable housing stock and to prevent plastic bags from clogging streams and cluttering the landscapes we love.

Our editorial board supports the idea of reasonable voter-approved taxes on shopping bags. But in these cases of sin-tax-like charges - taxes meant to change public behavior - there ought to be a clear connection between the tax and the program it would fund. If Rosenthal and Court were arguing for cleanup efforts and public awareness campaigns meant to protect Colorado, we would likely see things differently.

Instead, the measure would create a regressive tax largely placed on food, which is and should be exempt as a necessity from sales taxes. Translation: those struggling to pay the rent would have to pay more just to put dinner on the table.

Yes, the tax wouldn’t apply to low-income shoppers who are on food stamps. But that hardly helps the many who make too much to qualify for federal assistance but who struggle to afford soaring rents and housing costs. Especially for those who value walkable communities, and therefore head to the grocery more often, the 25 cent upfront charge for bags - charged regardless how many or how few bags are used - would add up.

And while the measure would give business owners a 1 percent take from the revenue, it still would require additional bookkeeping and logistical headaches that you can bet end up as extra costs passed on to consumers.

What’s more, a study conducted after Washington, D.C., passed a bag fee found that, while it initially lowered public use of throwaway bags, consumption returned after a few years, suggesting that charges should keep rising.

HB 1054 is a lazy way to deal with complex issues. As Rep. Cole Wist, R-Centennial, put it to The Denver Post’s Brian Eason, lawmakers ought to instead focus on other, more direct ways to make life in Colorado more affordable, like regulatory and tort reforms that make it easier for builders of condominiums to build supply that would offset demand.

This one’s too clever by half, even if it promotes laudable goals. And opposition to it shouldn’t be seen as craven or bad, but as understandable.

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


The (Cortez) Journal, Jan. 18, on welcome changes to outdoor recreation:

Outdoor recreation in Southwest Colorado is benefiting from a change in an operating date, and a much expanded resource.

At McPhee Reservoir north of Cortez, boat launching will be possible in mid-April this year, rather than at the end of the month as occurred last year. In exchange, the House Creek boat ramp, a more lightly used access to McPhee, will close the end of September, a month earlier.

The cost of operating quagga and zebra mussel inspection stations has made reservoir management for boating a challenge. McPhee sees more boaters earlier in the season than in the fall, and two additional early weeks at the larger of the two ramps will better match usage.

The effort to halt the spread of mussels has the attention of the Colorado Legislature, and legislators this session will be considering an additional fee attached to boat registrations to fund or at least partially fund inspection stations in the state. Last year, the fee was a part of a broader bill to increase hunting license fees which did not pass. Standing alone, the anti-mussel fee has a greater chance of approval.

We think that boat owners, especially, as well as state residents, understand the importance of passing the bill.

For off road bicycle riders, there has been bigger news with the approved expansion of Phil’s World just east of Cortez.

The Bureau of Land Management announced earlier this month that an additional 22.5 miles of single-track trail has been approved. That was the mid-sized request made by the Southwest Colorado Cycling Association in conjunction with the BLM’s recreation planners. Access will be through the existing Phil’s World trailhead on U.S. Highway 160 and from County Roads L and M where there will be parking and two new trailheads.

The expansion almost doubles the existing trail mileage in Phil’s World.

The trail routes in the expansion have been laid out to avoid both an eagle nesting area, and cultural resources sites. After the trails are in use - which will be this summer - the BLM and ride organizers will be alert to off-trail riding, and to the possible need to make adjustments.

Phil’s World, with a mix of more moderate riding trails, has been very popular with both Montezuma County and La Plata County riders. It is close to Cortez, and on the way to the Montezuma County Fairgrounds, which makes for a natural biking route. Montezuma County commissioners are working to make those connections, and to continue the connecting trail to Mancos.

Mountain biking is rightly seen as an economic driver for the county, and this is an important addition.

Editorial: http://bit.ly/2GevD32

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