Thursday, March 8, 2012

Letter to Commerce City Council from Citizens group "Commerce City Unite Now"

March 8, 2012

Dear Mr. Mayor, City Council, City Staff,

We are writing this letter to explain our presence at the press conference yesterday morning. We feel extremely betrayed by your actions. We have been working with the City and Industry through the Land Use meetings for nearly three months. At our most recent meeting, we provided the City with what we would like to see in a Memorandum of Understanding. We understood that City staff would be making reviews and adjustments, but we have not seen nor heard from anyone since that time. As we were working in good faith, the City was courting two oil & gas companies to expand or establish their business within Commerce City. Cummins High Horsepower Engines are NOT, as Mayor Ford said in an interview, for school buses. Rather, they are for fracking pumps which Schlumberger manufactures (also located within Commerce City.) In addition, UE Compression makes compressors for oil pipelines. The mayor of Dish, Texas is aware of how popular pipeline compressors are – he describes them as noisy, and reports that they leak methane into the air which is cancerous and 25% worse than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.

We are well aware of the need for jobs and economic growth. We very much support new jobs in our area; in fact, we have been waiting for development along the 104th Corridor for nearly a decade. We recommend a focus on renewable energy jobs as an alternative to fossil fuel exploration and development. Couldn't we work with solar panel companies? Renewable energy has been shown to provide more jobs than fossil fuel-based jobs. Could you negotiate with United Power to provide incentives for installing solar power like Xcel does? Then we could have entire neighborhoods installing solar panels. Imagine how you could impact the image of Commerce City by becoming a leader in renewable energy development.

If you listen to economists, you know that 80% of the country's economy is from consumer spending. Why are we courting industry, instead of retail? Commerce City has spent large sums of money on a public relations campaign and has made numerous cosmetic improvements throughout the city. We have noticed the new logo, new signs, and medians with trees and shrubs. All are wonderful, much needed attempts to change the reputation of Commerce City. We request that you strongly consider putting more substance behind your attempts to change the face of our city. You could do this by avoiding more industry and focusing on other commercial or retail endeavors.

In the Denver Post, Alice Nichols was quoted as describing our actions inappropriate. We beg to differ. This is EXACTLY what democracy is about. Does she or the City Council expect that everything can be solved by sitting down and talking? We would prefer that, but we now realize that we cannot come to agreeable terms at the table as evidenced by the dehumanizing and antagonistic behavior of the industry representatives at the Land Use meetings. Every time a citizen or citizen's interest was about to speak, we were rebuffed by them in a loud and coordinated way. We invite you to review the Land Use meeting videos and witness this for yourselves.

We have always been ready, willing and able to communicate with the entire city staff and council. Instead, we have been forced to sit at a table with the same entities that are here to assault us, disrespect us, and destroy the health, safety, and welfare of the community. We have:

• watched you clap when we did not show up one week to comment.
• heard you say that you "won't be bullied by us".
• heard you say that you can't take our criticism.
• heard you make fun of our fear and say that we should be ashamed of ourselves and that our actions "don't make us look too good.”
• heard “you are trying to bankrupt the city.” We can only interpret this to mean that your financial concerns are more important than our health and safety.

In closing, we have been asked what efforts we would like to see the City include with their negotiations with industry. We want baseline air quality monitoring, baseline groundwater quality testing, and an independent specialist in seismology to examine potential hazards of drilling near RMA. Additionally, we request a panel discussion on the Human Health Study in Garfield County and a real time, full discussion on fracking where it is currently taking place, i. e. Erie, Longmont, Boulder, Gunnison County, La Plata, etc. We have requested strong regulations on setbacks, closed loop systems, and more. Finally; we see that a Memorandum of Understanding is only temporary, allowing time for the development of strong, legally binding regulations to be established. We have not seen any actions in response to our requests. We ask that you start doing the right thing and start being honest with your citizens. You swore an oath to uphold the natural rights to health, safety, and welfare of the citizens you represent and we expect you to follow through on that promise. We are dedicated to protecting the safety of our children and grandchildren and we will not stop on this path until our requests are satisfied. We, as your constituents, will hold you accountable. As suggested by the City’s Motto, we demand a quality community for a lifetime.

Commerce City Unite Now

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