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'Threat Map' stirs fear without facts

Editor:

Cancer is a scary and frequently devastating disease. That is why it makes for such an emotional attention grabber.

Most of us have known a family member, friend or colleague who has battled cancer, and the mere mention of the diagnosis of cancer is enough to strike a feeling of fear in the pit of your stomach.

That is why the efforts of Earthworks, the Clean Air Task Force and FracTracker Alliance (the creators of Oil and Gas Threat Map) are so manipulative and in my opinion, reprehensible. These groups have a long history of saying and doing almost anything to hinder the development of oil and natural gas in our county.  While their statements occasionally hold some truth, they are frequently filled with inaccuracies and misrepresentations.

In the case of the Oil and Gas Threat Map, they have taken several sources of publicly available information and presented the conclusion that living near oil and gas activities causes high rates of cancer. There is one very big problem with their analysis:  the data they use does not show this to be true.

This FACT does not prevent these groups from presenting “studies” that are designed to create fear in those living near oil and gas operations.

The researchers for this project admit “data quality issues” and “uncertainties” and concede their report is “not a measure of actual risk.”

Furthermore, the researchers' own data actually contradicts their conclusions.

In other words, the map looks scary, but the data does not support the conclusion presented. This is a case of scare tactics, not science and risk assessment.

Studies that take actual measurements from air monitors have found low emissions from oil and gas operations – well below the threshold for what EPA standards say would be harmful to human health.  While monitoring and diligence are always required as an important part of best practices in oil and gas production, there is truly no cause for the fear that this project tries to trigger.

We should be very wary of the recent trend to present these attack pieces as “studies.” Callously wrapping blatant political agendas in the language of science damages both science and public policy, and places our society at risk.

There is certainly room for data gathering and scientific analysis related to energy production and use in our country and in the world.

Unfortunately, the Oil and Gas Threat Map fails so miserably that it is not science, only propaganda.

Steve Henke

President, New Mexico Oil & Gas Association

Bolack's fireworks show is appreciated

Editor,

I'm just a regular citizen who would like to thank Mr. Tommy Bolack for his generosity and beautiful displays every year.

I know he does this, for the community, out of his own pocket. I'd love for him to know how much it has meant to the city of Farmington, his displays are a staple for us.

I'm 34, lived here all my life, and witnessed every one. I just want to thank him for all his hard work and make sure he knows it's VERY much appreciated.

Thank you.

Lindsey Kemper

Farmington

Losing coal jobs will impoverish New Mexico

Editor:

I read your story about layoffs at the San Juan mine. Accordingly, I would like to offer my American friends a preview of what may happen if you shut down your coal-fired power plants.

Ontario was once an industrial powerhouse and the home of thousands upon thousands of well paid, manufacturing jobs. But the province lost at least 300,000 manufacturing jobs in the last 15 years when companies either went bankrupt or left Ontario.

This happened largely because our electricity prices have increased 318 percent since 2002, now giving us one of the highest rates in North America. The single most important cause for this staggering rise is that, in the name of ‘stopping climate change,’ we shut down all of our inexpensive coal plants, which, in 2002, provided about 25 percent of our electricity.

Things will likely be even worse for America if President Obama's climate policies are continued by the next administration. After all, the U.S. gets 33 percent of its power from coal (67 percent in New Mexico).

Ontarians were too frightened of climate activists to oppose the plan to end coal-fired power generation. As a consequence, we are now dependent on the charity of more wealthy Canadian provinces to survive. Who will provide jobs in New Mexico if your coal mines close and businesses in your state cannot rely on cheap and reliable electricity generated from coal?

Tom Harris

Executive Director, International Climate Science Coalition

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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