A sampling of recent editorials from Colorado newspapers:
Loveland Reporter-Herald, April 23, on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico:
Offshore oil drilling may be a critical part of the United States' domestic energy industry, but the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling doesn't think it's safe enough yet.
The commission's final report, released last week, cited progress by the Obama administration and the industry itself, but graded Congress poorly because it has yet to "enact any legislation responding to the explosion and spill."
And all three need to do more, the report concluded, to ensure that deepwater drilling is safe for both workers and the environment.
Congress, in particular, needs to codify the necessary regulations needed to prevent another BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, considered to be the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, and one that killed 11 workers.
Fortunately, oversight of offshore drilling was improved after the spill two years ago. The Minerals Management Service, which had too cozy a relationship with the industry it was charged with overseeing, was overhauled to improve oversight.
But better regulation and oversight of deepwater drilling are sorely needed. While regulation may be costly, environmental disasters are even more costly.
How many more disasters on the scale of BP Deepwater Horizon can the Gulf of Mexico take? We'd rather not find out.
The Post Independent, April 18, on the BLM review of the federal oil shale leasing program:
Contrary to the hard line position being put forth in a joint resolution by Garfield County commissioners and several other counties in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, we believe the current BLM review of the federal oil shale leasing program is on the right track.
The technology necessary to produce oil from the vast shale rock deposits in the region clearly remains in the preliminary research stage. We're still a long way from determining if commercial-scale production will be viable.
After nearly a century of trying, even proponents in the industry readily admit it's a prospect that lies sometime in the distant future.
Whether oil shale can ever be developed without severe negative environmental impacts, and without the damaging boom-and-bust economic cycle that has accompanied efforts in the past, remains a big question.
These and other critical questions still need to be answered.
We see a rationale for some degree of public lands leasing for oil shale and tar sands research remaining as a part of national energy policy.
But it makes no sense to open up vast amounts of public lands for potential commercial-scale development without a deliberate, measured approach to ensure the necessary research is done first.
A major problem with the BLM's 2008 plan, endorsed recently by the county governments in their joint resolution, is that it did not require research and development before energy companies could proceed to commercial development.
It's one of the main reasons conservation groups filed a lawsuit to halt that plan, and why the federal government is now taking a closer look at its oil shale leasing policy.
Without a sound R&D program first, it only opens the door to yet another misguided, full-speed-ahead approach to oil shale development.
It's an approach that bit us hard 30 years ago, on May 2, 1982, when Exxon pulled out of its oil shale operations in Garfield County, sending the regional economy into a decade-long tailspin.
The 2008 plan would open about 2 million acres of BLM land for oil shale leasing, whereas the BLM's current preferred alternative designates 462,000 acres for that purpose, including more than 35,000 acres in northwest Colorado.
Tonight, the Rifle City Council will consider its position on the BLM oil shale environmental impact statement during a joint meeting with the Garfield County commissioners.
In earlier discussions, the Rifle council had been leaning toward one of the smaller-acreage alternatives being considered by the BLM. No doubt, the commissioners will try to persuade the Rifle council otherwise.
We encourage the Rifle city leaders to stick to their gut instincts and endorse one of the better-thought-out alternatives now on the table.
Oil shale has a long way to go to become a viable alternative to fulfill our domestic energy needs.
BLM is right in taking a cautious approach with its scaled-back alternatives, and we urge Rifle to endorse that approach.
The Pueblo Chieftain, April 24, on a proposal to give the Legislature control of space in the State Services Building:
Do Colorado legislators need more space? No, certainly not when compared with more pressing priorities facing them this year.
The question is prompted by legislative leaders introducing House Bill 1348. The bill would give the Legislature explicit control of up to three floors of the State Services Building, which is just across the street from the state Capitol.
This looks like a turf war between the Legislature and the State Department of Personnel and Administration. The department wants the same space to reunite most of its employees under one roof, thus saving an estimated $16.8 million a year that now goes into renting private office space elsewhere.
House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, said the Legislature's possible use of the space is to give lawmakers more office space. Has anyone asked if they really need more room?
Currently, some lawmakers share office space in pairs and the minority parties in the House and Senate have "bullpens" where larger groups of lawmakers share space separated by cubicles.
Yet, not so long ago, before government grew too big, Colorado legislators had no offices at all. They had to get by with desks and filing cabinets in the House and Senate chambers.
When they met visitors, they simply went into the lobby just outside the chambers or walked to a quiet corner to have a private conversation. It was a snap.
These days, too many legislators think serving is all about them. Well, it's not. It's about serving the voters who sent them to the Capitol in the first place.
"We're putting ourselves ahead of everybody else," Rep. Wes McKinley, D-Cokedale, said in opposing HB1348. "That and the per diem raise (to $183 from $150 a day for legislators who live 50 miles or more from Denver) are the most ridiculous things we've done this year. It's a finger in the face of the public."
Rep. McKinley is correct. The Legislature should focus the remaining time in this year's session on more important matters - not skewed priorities.
The Tribune, April 21, on bullying:
At some point in everyone's life, a bully probably made an impression.
Maybe it was being teased as a child, or physically assaulted as a teen or humiliated as an adult by an abusive spouse. Maybe you were the one being the bully.
Bullying takes many forms and may mean different things to different people. But one common definition rings true: Bullying happens when one person walks away humiliated and another walks away with elevated status.
The results of bullying, as history has shown, can be tragic.
Friday, April 20, was the 13th anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School, an event that was linked to bullying of the students who shot and killed 12 students, one teacher and injured 21 others.
Other deaths, including suicides, have been attributed to bullying.
Since Columbine, schools especially have tried to address the issue of bullying in different ways, raising awareness and empowering students to do something about it.
More recently, the documentary "Bully" has renewed interest in the issue.
Luckily, most Greeley schools are already well into using a new program to combat the problem. The district-wide anti-bullying pilot program began in all elementary schools in January. Similar, age-appropriate programs are used in middle and high schools.
The program, called "Bully Prevention in Positive Behavior Support," is taught in six individual lessons, and tries to confront problem behavior and initiate responses that address bullying as it occurs.
Although it is too early to tell, initial reports show a reduction in bullying incidents in some schools.
We appreciate the school district taking the issue of bullying seriously. Education has to be an element of preventing this problem.
But addressing the problem of bullying in schools is only part of the issue. While the problem will never be eliminated, reducing bullying takes the entire community.
Parents have already led the charge against bullying in many schools and other settings. But everyone has to buy into the fact that bullying is bad for it truly to be addressed.
No one should overlook the behavior of a bully. We all have to be willing to stand up when we see a child or adult being bullied, either verbally or physically.
Too often, the behavior of the bully has somewhere along the line been encouraged, not only by his or her peers, but by an adult who either condoned the behavior or looked the other way. Some adults are guilty of modeling bully behavior, just reasserting the impression that it is OK in the children who witness it.
A high level of intolerance is needed to stop bullying. Kids need to be told, not only at school but at home, that being a bully, or being bullied, is wrong. Children need to know they should report incidents of bullying to an adult immediately when it happens.
Because it is an act of humiliation, children are sometimes reluctant to report the behavior of a bully. We need to assure them they are the victims, and the bully is the bad guy. Telling someone won't bring additional harm but hopefully, a resolution.
Bullying leaves scars, some even fatal. We urge everyone to take this issue seriously, and do what you can to stop bullies from causing any more harm.