Air Quality Action Items and Alerts: Candidate Q&A

Grand Junction City Council Election – vote by or before April 2 if you reside within city limits.

For voting information visit  https://bit.ly/2TzQKTk

Citizens for Clean Air submitted 5 questions to the City Council candidates. We thank them for taking time to respond. We will add responses from other candidates as we receive them. Here are answers, in alphabetical order, of those from whom we received responses:

Q: What role do you believe the City of Grand Junction should play in promoting a clean, healthy environment for its citizens?

Jim Doody (at large candidate): Let me start out by telling you that my beautiful Mother died from C.O.P.D. On her death bed, she asked me to quit smoking.  I quit on December 15, 1987 and the past 32 years I continue to thank her every day. I believe the Council should take the lead in promoting a clean and healthy environment for all the citizens in our community.

Chuck McDaniel (at large candidate): Air quality is an issue for a greater area than our city limits.  The City needs to cooperate with and encourage the county and the other municipalities to create valley-wide solutions.  That said, the City can regulate air pollution by regulating sources.  The City has begun to regulate open burning, but more can be done to reduce smoke created through agricultural burning. For example, the City can join with other governments to encourage non-burning methods of weed and ditch cleaning. The City can also expand its use of compressed natural gas in its vehicles, use electric powered City vehicles, enact and enforce no burn regulations in winter during inversions.

Aaron Michelson (District B candidate): The lesson of economics is that common resources require the protection of a governing body.  The cleanliness and healthfulness of our City’s environment is most appropriately the responsibility of the City of Grand Junction, as well as those other governments whose jurisdictions are geographically co-extentive: each government involved has different responsibilities.  However, because the Colorado Constitution most empowers Grand Junction through Article XX of our constitution, we should expect Grand Junction to take the leadership role in working with Mesa County’s Department of Health, the CDPHE, EPA, and numerous other agencies of the People.  To this end, I have proposed a 3 Point Plan for Public Health (https://am4gj.blogspot.com/2019/01/3-point-plan-for-public-health.html), the first priority of which is air quality.

Dennis Simpson (at large candidate):  I believe maintaining a clean environment is very important for us all. I am not an expert on this topic but I am very willing to listen to those who have studied this issue in depth.  I learned a lot by attending the recent meeting of your organization and would be interested in your thoughts.

Q: What ideas do you have for creating City policies that could contribute to cleaner air and a healthier environment?

Jim Doody: I know that the Council banned burning on an acre or less property recently. Maybe not so much as a policy but piping projects to eliminate some of the ditches will keep them from burning the weeds. This will not only help with air quality but water as well. Salinity issues have an effect on our rivers as well as downstream users.

Chuck McDaniel: My proposed policies are incorporated in my other answers.

Aaron Michelson: After consulting with asthma specialists and other physicians, I have proposed a 3 Point Plan for Public Health (https://am4gj.blogspot.com/2019/01/3-point-plan-for-public-health.html).  In addition, I have proposed a Public Transportation Plan (https://am4gj.blogspot.com/2019/02/public-transportation-plan.html).

Dennis Simpson: Please  see answer to question 1.

Q: Do you support creating trails on canal banks? Such trails would give residents safer ways to get to school and work by bicycle, and cut down on vehicle traffic and pollution.

Jim Doody: While on Council I tried to work with the canal operators with little success. The City still acquires canal easements as development happens. I believe that as time goes on they will need money to fund their deliveries. They are cash poor and only operate off of grants for structure improvements from the federal government. Grand Junction can help them with equipment, service and policing the banks. What I would like to ask them is “can we do a few pilot trails?’ Let’s see how it goes over the next couple of years.

Chuck McDaniel: I support creation of new trails and bike lanes as often as those routes are feasible.  I believe that canal banks could provide routes that would add connectivity to the City’s trail system.  However, I am aware that the ditch and irrigation companies oppose opening their banks to bike and pedestrian traffic.  I believe that conversations with the ditch and irrigation companies could provide a forum for the City to understand the issues of the companies and move toward a solution to provide access.  Liability issues can be resolved through indemnities and/or insurance.

Aaron Michelson: Yes. Other cities have successfully negotiated for the use of these banks, and benefited by the effort: I believe we may as well.  We may and should also look at developing other routes, utilizing existing corridors and easements.

Dennis Simpson: Yes I do.  I also support the right of private property owners to decide what happens on the land they own.

Q: Old, non-certified wood burning stoves create a tremendous amount of pollution in our community, especially during winter months when we also have inversions. Citizens for Clean Air would like to encourage residents to change out those wood burners for gas, electric, or ductless split heat pump systems.  Would you support such a program?

Jim Doody: I would support those programs and maybe the City can work with Xcel to grant cash rebates for eliminating old wood stoves.

Chuck McDaniel: Yes, I would support such a program.  The City can provide education about the pollution caused by wood burning stoves and fireplaces and encourage removal from use.  With building codes, we can allow replacement of older units only with certified ones. Also, we can try to find funds to provide monetary incentives for owners who replace the older units voluntarily.

Aaron Michelson: Yes. This program not only significantly reduces air pollution, but helps residents defray the costs of reducing their heating costs through more efficient fuels.  We must be sensitive to the environmental injustice that those who typically contribute most to the pollution are those who also most suffer by it, and typically because of their poverty.  Few people want to pollute their resources, but lack the means by which to avoid doing so.  This is why we must consider this also in requiring greater emission standards for our vehicles.  I am especially sensitive to this as I, myself, earn less than the median income in Grand Junction, and when not using my bicycle or feet, share a vehicle that would not meet air quality standards.

Dennis Simpson: This is a great idea and I would support the program as you have defined it.

Q: In light of the projections for future growth, how important is it to you to be proactive in protecting our air quality so we don’t go into non-attainment in 10 years or so?

Jim Doody: It’s very important. I work in an industry that is heavily regulated by the CDPHE. I deal with air quality permits that have PM 10 & PM 2.5 regulations. I am certified in Method 9 Opacity readings.

Chuck McDaniel: I think we need to be ahead of the growth I expect by: working on transportation plans that reduce vehicular traffic and provide walking and bicycle access; through land use planning, encourage development and redevelopment of residential neighborhoods that allow walking or bicycling to work, shopping, etc.; encouraging use of low-emission or zero-emission vehicles and electric and CNG vehicles; extending and encouraging public transportation; limiting open burning; lobbying for strong methane emission controls.

Aaron Michelson: This is one of my priorities.  Air pollution harms not only asthmatics and other sensitive populations, but also the unborn fetuses of our pregnant women, the intellectual and physical development of our children, the longevity of our elders, and has numerous impacts on the quality of life, property values, and the long-term viability of a city.  Denver made many errors which have resulted in terrible air quality; here, sometimes, our air quality is worse than Denver – or even Los Angeles.  We must act now to avoid these same costly mistakes.

Dennis Simpson:  I believe it is very important.

THANK YOU COUNCIL CANDIDATES!

 

Here are ongoing activities CCA invites you, residents of Mesa County, to participate in:

  • Follow the air quality readings for particulate matter (PM) and ozone daily. It’s easy; just click the links on our home page. What do you notice when we experience wildfires in the region, or open burning in certain areas of the valley, or inversion periods in the colder months?
  • Share your concerns when air quality dissipates by writing a letter to the editor (LTE) to the Daily Sentinel  letters@gjsentinel.com In your own words, write about why clean air is important to you and your family. Note the Sentinel limits LTEs to 300 words or less.
  • Let our elected officials hear from you about why air quality matters by contacting the Mesa County Commissioners https://www.mesacounty.us/commissioners/, the Grand Junction City Council http://www.gjcity.org/city-government/city-council/,  the Palisade Board of Trustees, and the Fruita City Countil https://www.fruita.org/citycouncil/page/council-members
  • VOTE by April 2 for the city council candidate who best represents your values, including air quality and climate change policies.
  • Support our work by following updates on our website and be sure to attend the annual Air Quality Public Forum. You are welcome to sit in on one of our regular working meetings as well. Contact us for dates, times and location.
  • Donate towards our efforts to improve the Grand Valley air quality.
  • Watch this page for upcoming requests for action regarding the Fram Whitewater oil drilling plans!