A few modest hopes for the coming year. Perhaps immodest hopes actually, because of this being an election year in a country that clearly lacks even the most basic aspects of a rational or civil discourse. Yet a willingness to act optimistically, even in the face of much contrary evidence, has always been a staple of mine.
So here is a short list of wishes for 2012:
Wish 1: An honest debate about domestic oil and gas production instead of lies, slander and more outright lies. One fact is that the U.S. became a net exporter of oil and gas in 2011 for the first time in more than 60 years. The rhetoric is that we have an energy policy that has stifled domestic energy development and killed good-paying jobs.
There are enough real issues to debate in our energy policy, we dont need to just make stuff up on top of it all. It is perhaps stupid to even put such a wish on the list, but one can always hope.
Wish 2: Our political leaders follow the public, and enthusiastically support the Hermosa Watershed Protection Act as well as the San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act. Both of these are the result of the hard work and collaboration of many people, and both represent the best in rational and civil discourse. The work of the people involved, the style of discourse and the beautiful and worthy lands involved all deserve support.
This one should be a gimme, but we will have to wait and see.
Wish 3: The air quality in the San Juan Basin improves. This would require that the oil and gas industry locally continues its best work of installing gas-venting control devices on its equipment and increasing its use of green completions and work-overs.
It would also mean that the coal power plants either begin to shut down or that they agree to move off their staunch refusal to shift from 50-year-old technology and fully embrace the pollution-control technologies of the current decade.
There is both a push from regulatory agencies and a pull from plain old economic savings that should make these realistic. The year will probably show some more progress in the gas patch and the continuation of the obstinate refusal to improve that we have grown used to in the coal power arena.
Wish 4: The local utilities fully integrate renewable energy into their purchasing and retail rates.
This needs to happen through adopting rate plans that help rather than hinder consumer choices to reduce use and energy supply procurement policies that dont disadvantage diversified and dispersed producers.
Wish 5: The region receives a deep snowpack and a slow steady melt, bringing months of wonderful skiing and winter play, followed by good river flows and good irrigation water supplies. It is always a good idea not to put all your hopes in the rickety basket based on wise politicians or industry bureaucrats.
Regardless of how these issues unfold, may we all have a healthy year.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Dan Randolph is executive director of the San Juan Citizens Alliance.