Colorado Editorial Roundup


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A sampling of recent editorials from Colorado newspapers:

The Denver Post, Jan. 13, on the Colorado Film Commission:

Colorado's film commission can point to some big "gets" in promoting the effectiveness of its incentive program, but it should not overextend itself.

The film incentive program is out of money and pledging rebates to projects in advance of its next round of funding in July.

That's never a good idea, as was pointed out by Colorado Economic Commission Director Denise Brown in a meeting last week.

If this keeps occurring, the office will find itself farther and father behind. "You need to go to the legislature to get more funds," she told the film commission.

The film incentive program has had some successes, though. In September, acclaimed director Quentin Tarantino agreed to shoot a film in Telluride. And two films that received incentives were selected to be shown at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

A 2011 University of Colorado Leeds School of Business analysis of the film incentive program said every dollar invested would yield $5 of production spending and $10 in economic activity. Such studies should usually be taken with a grain of salt, but Donald Zuckerman, commissioner of the Colorado Office of Film Television & Media, said in 2013 that investing $3 million resulted in $21 million in post-production spending.

Gov. John Hickenlooper has touted the program and has proposed funding it at $5 million next year, which is the same amount it got from lawmakers last July.

But the film commission shouldn't be pledging money it literally doesn't have. If the film industry wants incentives, it should have to get in line at the Capitol with everyone else.


The Gazette, Jan. 14, on the Keystone XL pipeline:

Gas prices dropped to $1.55 a gallon Monday in parts of Colorado Springs, continuing a much-needed and long-overdue break for average consumers. None benefit more than the working poor. Spending less than half as much on fuel as a year ago, they have more money for food, shelter, clothing and entertainment.

It's not the result of price controls, which proved in the 1970s to cause production shutdowns, gas lines and rationing. It's not because President Barack Obama, the Democrats or Republicans waved a magic wand in an act of benevolence.

It's because of good old American fracking, in which oil tycoons invested money in pursuit of profits. Domestic production created abundance, which reduced the price of fuel. Threatened by declining fuel prices, Saudi Arabia began flooding the market with oil in an effort to drive prices so low American producers might go bust and shut down wells. At some point, this gravy train will come to a halt and prices will rise.

Commodities prices constantly rise and fall, despite societal needs for stability. In all matters of consumption - whether it's health care, food, water, shelter, transportation, entertainment or clothing - sustainable abundance favors stability. More of any desirable good, service or commodity means a reduction in poverty and an overall elevation of the human condition.

Yet, fracking remains under attack. Not just by Middle East interests that want to shut down our domestic supply. That's to be expected.

What's shocking is the assault from left-of-center politicians and activists who speak incessantly about wanting better lives for the middle class and poor. Just as Saudi leaders would harm domestic production, so would those who push for larger setback requirements, municipal fracking bans and other regulatory obstructions aimed at an industry that's in the fight of its life.

A new study by Colorado University's Leeds School of Business found a 2,000-foot setback, which anti-fracking activists insist on, would result in nearly 50,000 fewer jobs in Colorado between 2015 and 2040 as a result of production shutdowns. The setback would cause Colorado's GDP to decline by as much as $6.4 billion annually. Personal income would decline by as much as $4.4 billion annually in that same period.

"A 2000-foot setback would significantly impact Colorado's families," said Earl Wright, chairman of the Board at Common Sense Policy Roundtable. "The study suggests that an average family of four could lose $3,344 of income annually.

Most advocates of proposed new setbacks and municipal fracking bans also want to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline - with the support of Obama, a self-professed advocate of economic equality. The pipeline would help efficiently move Canadian and domestic oil onto the world market, hedging against Saudi Arabia's desire to control production and supply.

Fracking, more than all other factors, has moved this economy out of economic recession and made life better for the middle class and poor. It produces enough natural gas to marginalize the future of coal - a fuel source demonized by the same environmental community that despises fracking. It moves us closer to independence from foreign oil and the wars that go with it.

The big threat to economic justice, peace and the environment doesn't come from Big Oil. It comes from those who would stop North America's march toward energy abundance, taking the largest toll on those who have the least. Ask them to stop holding down the poor.


The Daily Sentinel, Jan. 14, on the Broncos:

Last year's Super Bowl drubbing at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks was painful and embarrassing, but the Broncos still had plenty of reasons for optimism headed into this season.

They met lofty expectations by getting a bye into the divisional round of the AFC playoffs. That's more success than most teams dream of. But not enough for Broncos fans — or Broncos management for that matter. After four straight playoff appearances, this was a "Super Bowl or Bust" kind of year.

After losing to the Indianapolis Colts — at home, no less — on Sunday, the bust started to materialize. Peyton Manning declined to rule out retirement after the game. The next day coach John Fox and the team "mutually" agreed to part ways.

This seems like a face-saving gesture. Fox had great regular-season success, but a losing record in the playoffs, despite Elway's efforts to produce a stacked roster the last couple of years. If Elway really wanted Fox to come back, we doubt he would be looking for his next coaching gig.

Fox failed to produce a championship in what everyone agreed was a small window of opportunity. Manning's future is in doubt, but even if he elected to return (and Elway wanted him back), the likes of Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas could be gone. They and 15 other players are heading for restricted or unrestricted free agency. As the Sentinel's Rick Jussel noted, Broncos management has numerous needs to address: a new coach, a better pass rush and a solution at tight end. But the biggest question is whether to pay Manning to suit up for another season or take that money and spend it on other needs. Either way, it feels like the end of an era.

If it is, our money's on Elway to rebuild quickly. He's a warrior who knows what it takes to produce a winner.


The Durango Herald, Jan. 8, on Mesa Verde:

Mesa Verde's announcement that hiking and bicycling will be allowed on the Wetherill Mesa tram road is good news, with a small "but." The change will help accomplish several goals: Access to the tram road, now called the "Long House Loop," makes the park more attractive to people who have a limited interest in short, crowded trails to crowded cliff dwellings.

That is a large percentage of the American public, and in the past, Mesa Verde has not had much to offer them. The park does have hiking trails, but the six-mile tram road offers easy hiking on a level surface. A leisurely walk along a portion of that road is a good warm-up for people who perhaps should not tackle the steep trails and ladders to the cliff dwellings immediately upon arriving at this altitude.

The tram road also provides a safe bicycling environment, something that is hard to come by on the park's narrow roads. While some cyclists enjoy the agony of climbing the entrance road and the thrill (and potential terror) of flying back down it, many more just want to get out, stretch their legs and enjoy the scenery. Wetherill Mesa is a good place for families to do that, and the possibility of a bicycle concession there is exciting.

And hiking and biking along the Long Mesa Loop provides a different, more personal kind of access to the geology, archaeology and natural history of the area. While the sites there are not as famous as Cliff Palace and Balcony House, Wetherill Mesa is well-worth visiting and deserves more attention than it receives.

From the park's point of view, allowing increased non-motorized access - as well as opening Wetherill Mesa earlier in the spring and keeping it open later - may help to disperse visitation that now concentrates heavily on Chapin Mesa. That will be especially valuable while preservation work limits access to Cliff Palace, but over the long term, it is just a good idea in general.

We applaud the Park Service first for trying the Wetherill Mesa "hike and bike" events over the past several years, and then for learning from that experience that visitors do want to experience the park under their own steam. The cross country ski and snowshoe trails there also are wonderful recreational amenities, especially because of the absence of motorized users. Under Superintendent Cliff Spencer, the park is doing a good job of getting people out of their cars for more than just cliff-dwelling tours.

Because of the willingness to let visitors explore on their own, the loss of the Wetherill Mesa tram service because of contractual issues is not a severe problem. At the same time, though, we urge park planners not to give up on the idea of public transportation that allows more visitors to "park and ride," perhaps parking at the visitor center just off of U.S. Highway 160 and riding together to sites on the mesa. That would alleviate crowding in parking lots, which in turn would reduce visitor frustration and safety issues. It would enable people who are not comfortable driving up the entrance road to visit the park. And it could greatly reduce the number of vehicle miles driven each day.

The idea of a tram up the side of the mesa is far-fetched and impractical, and it is not what Mesa Verde needs. The park does need ways to move people effectively from place to place. Increasing access to the west end of the park is a very good start, but we hope the park will continue to plan for sensible mass transit as well.


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