Monday Mission #44

I talked recently to my cousin, who is a surveyor for the BLM out of Rock Springs Wyoming, about how his job has changed over the last couple of years. He is further to the right on the political spectrum, but told me rigid ideology combined with a lack of experience in Washington DC has turned every action into a battle. In the past, when there was an honest attempt to hear all sides of an issue, the level of confrontation was lower. Now it all ends up in the courts and nothing gets done. His point of view probably reflects that of a lot of the career people working in the field. They know their jobs but corrupt political appointees at the helm of federal agencies make those jobs difficult. No wonder good people are leaving. It may take a decade or more to repair the damage.

In any case, our battle with the industry cronies in charge of our federal government continues this week with a couple of issues whose comment deadlines are soon.

The first is to roll back regulations put in place after the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. On April 20, 2010 an uncontrollable blowout led to an explosion that killed 11 of the crew and ignited a fireball visible 40 miles away. The rig sank, leaving the well gushing open on the seabed and resulting in the largest oil spill in US history. The cause was a failure of the blowout preventer. Since then safety equipment has been subject to inspection by an independent group set up for that purpose and drillers are also required to test equipment periodically. The proposed revisions would allow companies to arrange for their own certification of shutoff and shutdown devices and reduce maintenance and reporting requirements. That is putting a lot of trust in an industry which has been known to cut corners. You can read the full description of the changes and comment here.

Actually, the deadline for comment on this one is Monday, I just realized. The FDA has considered setting maximum nicotine levels for tobacco products. So far a lot of the comment has been opposed. I’d argue there is no minimum level at which nicotine is not addictive and it is a public health issue. Let’s set some standards. Perhaps it will be easier to quit with lower levels and people will not be as likely to end up lifelong addicts. Your comments can be added here.

There are several events coming up soon and we also need to begin to organize for the fall. The November elections are critical.

Tomorrow is a hearing on oversight of the private prison system. That is at the Roundhouse, Room 307, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm.

The annual meeting of the Jemez Mountains Electric Co-op is on Sunday, the 22nd of July up at the picnic grounds in La Cueva. I think our plan will be to meet and carpool as we did last year. This is an opportunity to show our support for renewable energy and urge a new direction for the Co-op. We will send out more details this week.

The much-discussed Lawn Party is now scheduled for the 29th of July here in Lower San Pedro. It should be a lot of fun. It probably will go from 3:00 to 6:00.

In the meantime, keep up the good work. United We Stand.

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