Colorado Editorial Roundup
The (Colorado Springs) Gazette, Nov. 21, on opposing “personhood” for the Colorado River
Imagine trying to widen a highway and coming up against a protracted lawsuit. The plaintiff is a tree, 50 yards from the roadway, which does not want more traffic further disrupting its peace.
Consider breaking ground to build a home, only to get a stop-work order. The dirt has filed a lawsuit. Court papers claim the soil objects to disruption and relocation, and has a right to due process.
The plaintiffs will settle their suits for nothing, as neither has use for money. Neither tree nor dirt can show up in court for discovery or pre-trial hearings. The nonhuman plaintiffs have unlimited patience. They serve as formidable foes no one can reason with on human terms.
This silly hypothetical won’t be far-fetched if a group of activists succeeds in obtaining personhood for the Colorado River ecosystem, which they have listed as the plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against Colorado.
In its suit, the ecosystem complains of hypothetical future injuries caused by progress. State government is responsible for allowing or causing the problems, which the ecosystem intends to stop with a favorable ruling protecting it from potential activities.
“The case, the first of its kind in the United States, has the potential to shift American environmental law by granting nature a legal standing,” explains the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.
Supporters of the case want to inspire more “rights of nature” litigation throughout the country, to achieve humanlike legal protections for nonhuman objects.
“The complaint alleges hypothetical future injuries that are neither fairly traceable to actions of the state of Colorado, nor redressable by a declaration that the ecosystem is a ‘person’ capable of possessing rights,” states the Colorado Attorney General’s Office in a motion seeking dismissal.
The case names environmentalists as “next friends” of the ecosystem. All are members of Deep Green Resistance, an organization with a stated goal to “deprive the rich of their ability to steal from the poor and the powerful of their ability to destroy the planet.”
“Next friends” claim the river can sue because the U.S. Supreme Court granted legal rights to corporations in the 2010 Citizens United case.
They apparently believe a river is no less human than a corporation, which is far from true. Corporations are the manifestation of one or more persons working toward common goals. Law establishes corporations and determines what the people who comprise them may do.
Conversely, nature creates rivers and their ecosystems.
Rocks, trees, dirt, water and riparian zones are not human beings capable of creating, obeying or manipulating laws.
Humans should respect nature and care for it. They should use the courts, when necessary, to protect nature.
In the unlikely event a court grants personhood to objects, we can expect suits from trees pleading with judges to turn them into lumber. Mountains will sue to be mined. Expect every abuse persons may contrive, if allowed to pretend they are objects.
A judge should laugh this dopey case out of the courthouse and admonish the individuals who fraudulently cited nature as a plaintiff. Warn them against mocking the courts.
The Pueblo Chieftain, Nov. 20, on jet service coming to Pueblo
Pueblo Memorial Airport looks forward to the return of passenger jet service with a switch to daily 50-passenger jet flights, starting Dec. 1.
It’s not too early to book flights for the holiday season with the new United Express regional jet service between Pueblo and Denver International Airport. SkyWest, based in St. George, Utah, won a two-year contract to operate with the United Express banner under the federal Essential Air Services program that subsidizes flights from smaller airports. Until Dec. 1, Great Lakes Airlines of Cheyenne, Wyoming will continue to offer daily flights using smaller turboprop aircraft between Pueblo and DIA.
“Access to reliable and efficient local air service means more choice and more convenience for Pueblo travelers. We look forward to bringing SkyWest jet service to Pueblo just in time for the holiday season,” said SkyWest market development director Greg Atkin.
The city of Pueblo has launched a marketing campaign for the service that will feature newspaper, radio and billboard advertisements. Airport officials expect flight reservations to pick up as more travelers learn about the new service, considered a significant upgrade of aircraft and flight schedules.
“This is the best service that a community like Pueblo can have in 2017 and 2018,” Pueblo aviation director Ian Turner said. “Passengers will show up here and they will feel they are flying a United Airline aircraft.”
Two round-trip flights daily on weekdays and one round-trip daily on weekends are timed to provide maximum connections available for both business and leisure travelers by scheduling them for early mornings and evenings.
The extra fare for flying out of Pueblo is easily offset by the convenience and savings over having to drive through heavy metro traffic to DIA, pay sizable parking fees and go through busy terminal lines. Pueblo airport continues to offer free parking to travelers and a time-saving passenger check-in, comparing favorably with Denver.
The Denver Post, Nov. 20, on the GOP tax plan
When we endorsed the GOP tax reform plan two weeks ago, we had the basic expectation that Republicans would be intellectually honest in their pursuit of a lower corporate tax rate and a more fair individual tax code.
Sadly, we assumed too much.
Instead of making the hard decisions when looking to make the proposed tax overhaul feasible under federal budget needs, Republicans turned to a tried-and-true legislative gimmick — the sunset provision.
Unable to keep their tax giveaway within the massive limits of $1.4 trillion over a decade, Republicans amended the House plan to make many of the proposed reductions in individual tax rates temporary.
The result is that while in calendar year 2019 Americans would pay on average 7.4 percent less on their federal income taxes, by 2027 all of that net benefit would be eliminated. Worse, because the policies Republicans targeted to phase out are those that benefit lower-income Americans more, the increase would be borne on the backs of the poor.
According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, in 2027, Americans making between $20,000 and $30,000 would see an unacceptable 25 percent increase over what they pay today in taxes. Those making over $1 million a year would see the greatest benefit, a 0.7 percent decrease.
Whether or not Republicans plan to “fix” that significant injustice in the next 10 years is irrelevant. Americans must demand a tax plan that works on day one — and sadly neither the House nor Senate plan meets that minimum standard at this point.
More fair and reasonable fixes abound.
Instead of cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, start somewhere more reasonable, like at 25 percent. That rate would make America more competitive internationally, while not decimating federal revenue overnight.
Republicans should maintain the alternative minimum tax to ensure that wealthy individuals who benefit inordinately from low tax rates on capital gains and dividends pay a minimum average tax rate on all their income; or Republicans could increase the tax rate on capital gains.
Maintaining the inheritance tax on estates worth more than $5.5 million, as it is today, would maintain several billion dollars in tax revenue each year.
Finally, the GOP is wrong to target for elimination the Affordable Care Act’s tax on those who forgo insurance. The individual mandate tax is only applied to those who cannot show that a “hardship” is preventing them from purchasing insurance.
The tax is an important provision of the ACA and one we have long supported as a way to push younger, healthier individuals to participate in health insurance pools and not game the system by only purchasing insurance after an accident or devastating diagnosis.
We suspect President Donald Trump, with his massive fortune awaiting his children, his own multimillion-dollar benefit from eliminating the alternative minimum tax and his personal vendetta against Obamacare, is to blame for these bad policy decisions Republicans are making.
We’d much prefer a modest tax cut or net-neutral plan that broadens the base by eliminating tax avoidance while lowering the tax rate. The current shenanigans Republicans are pulling in pursuit of a $1.4 trillion tax cut are unacceptable.
We still support the general direction Republicans are headed, but we expect better of our members of Congress than what amounts to an elaborate accounting lie told to lower-income Americans too busy working multiple jobs to send a lobbyist to Capitol Hill.
(Loveland) Reporter-Herald, Nov. 18, on trail openings showing vision
Loveland area hikers and bicyclists have had reason to celebrate in recent weeks as the city closed one of the remaining gaps in the Loveland Recreation Trail and as Loveland, Fort Collins and Larimer County opened a new trail between the cities.
Loveland first began work on a trail to circle the entire city back in 1991, using lottery funding from Great Outdoors Colorado.
Through the years, 19.5 miles have been built, at a cost of $7.8 million.
The short section that opened this month along the Barnes Ditch connects the trail from its former end at Wilson Avenue to a section on Namaqua Avenue.
Marilyn Hilgenberg, Loveland’s open lands and trails manager, told the Reporter-Herald recently that she expects work to be done in the coming year at Sunset Vista Natural Area, at the northeast corner of Taft Avenue and 57th Street, that will extend the trail north and east and begin to fill in the one remaining gap between that area and U.S. 287.
The recreation trail is a starting point for the new, 2-mile Loveland-to-Fort Collins trail, which begins at the Boyd Lake section of the Loveland trail and extends north to Carpenter Road.
The $1.2 million trail will help bicycle commuters ride between the two cities as well as giving recreational bicyclists another place to enjoy. And eventually, it will become part of a Front Range Trail envisioned to extend from Wyoming to New Mexico.
Yet another trail will connect the two cities further west, the Longview Trail that will take off from the Sunset Vista Natural Area and head north parallel to Taft Avenue. It’s expected to open next summer.
These trails enhance the quality of life area residents can enjoy.
“The recreational trail system really is an investment in the community’s health,” Loveland Mayor Herm Smith wrote in the Reporter-Herald in September 1991. “Residents now have more recreational options, and the trails offer another transportation alternative. In addition, several major local employers told us that having a recreational trail system in place was important for them to be able to attract and keep top employees,” he said.
At that time, he believed the recreation trail would be finished by 1995. He also noted work underway at that time to build a trail along the south shore of Lake Loveland, and he envisioned a final phase that would have built an equestrian trail from Barnes Park to Interstate 25.
Funding, right of way issues and even the need to rebuild after the 2013 flood have slowed trail work and it’s been more expensive than the early 1990s planners forecast.
But those planners would likely be pleased that an estimated 250,000 people a year now enjoy the Loveland Recreation Trail.
The money and time have been worth the outcome.