Monday, June 7, 2010

Las Vegas Optic, Letter: Secret deliberations cut into credibility

By Kate Daniel

I read, with disbelief, County Planning and Zoning Supervisor Alex Tafoya’s comment in your article, “(Task Force) Panel’s Makeup in Dispute.” He said, “’s not like we’re building a new nuclear bomb....”

Really? How would he characterize the impact to the Gulf of Mexico from the ongoing “natural disaster,” as the culpable British Petroleum calls it? I know that Mr. Tafoya’s remark was referencing the secrecy aspect of the task force and not the dangerous potential of this toxic industry, but the point he overlooked is that without proper regulation, the oil and gas industry is an extremely dangerous one for all concerned.

No one I know is advocating a drilling ban in San Miguel County. However, we deserve and expect any task force assembled and paid for with our tax dollars to consider our wellbeing above the convenience of the oil and gas industry. That they would even consider conducting their deliberations in secret is an affront to every San Miguel County citizen. Where is the advocate for the citizens who has equivalent firepower to Karin Foster’s position with the oil and gas industry?

Secret deliberations will completely undermine the credibility of any ordinance they propose. Allowing citizens to observe the proceedings will provide at least the illusion of transparency, even if the real negotiations are held in a back room somewhere.

Mr. Tafoya is right when he says that they’ll be criticized no matter what they do. This is the plight of every public figure. The only thing he and the rest of the task force need to determine is whether or not they have the wellbeing of the culture and general population of San Miguel County as their highest priority. If it is, they will write a good ordinance that protects what we have while adding oil and gas development into the mix. If not, they may as well just hand the keys to San Miguel County to the oil and gas industry and say goodbye to all that we hold dear in this community, because lightly regulated oil and has development will overwhelm the existing local economy and culture.

In doubt as to the economic and cultural effects of lightly regulated oil and gas development? Go visit Farmington and decide if this is what you want Las Vegas and San Miguel County to become.

Kate Daniel