Letters to the Editor for May 17

Check the oil

We think we have a petroleum shortage and accept it as fact. We’re led to believe this by legislators and the popular media.

The reality is there’s a literal plethora of oil produced daily in the Bakken Shale in North Dakota, the Eagle Ford Shale in West Texas, and the Niobara Shale in Colorado. The three lead domestic production of high-quality crude from shale reserves, a fact in public record and credibly documented in Wikipedia.

The Bakken Shale formation has been known for years and subject of dozens of petroleum, geology and mining engineering theses and refereed publications. Prior to the advent of 1- and 2-mile-deep horizontal drilling/fracking, the estimated reserves in Bakken were 60 years of U.S. annual consumption. Now 2014 daily shipments are approximately 820,000 barrels per day (BPD).

Current projects, both operational and underway in Washington and Oregon, will number 11 refinery and shipping ports, four now operating refineries and seven underway and subject to permitting.

The group of 11 will ultimately receive an estimated 800,000 BPD by rail from the Bakken, equivalent to 11 miles of oil cars daily through the Gorge. This is comparable to the proposed Keystone Pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to the Texas Gulf.

The relatively young Eagle-Ford Shale in Texas now exceeds daily shipments from the mighty Bakken, now exceeding a million BPD (ref. Nov. 9, 2013 San Antonio Xpress News, “Corpus Christi Port Awash in the Oil Business”). Corpus Christi now ships more oil to U.S. and Canadian refineries from the Eagle-Ford than all oil imported to the U.S. from other countries.

Meanwhile, in Colorado, the Niobrara oil shale boom has blossomed in the past four years and now ships approximately 400,000 BPD. A Sept. 22, 2013, New York Times article reports increasing interest in development of the Monterrey Shale, estimated reserves at greater than two-thirds of all other U.S. reserves and far exceeding the three above.

It may be that politics and investment monies dominate reasonable economic arguments given that the U.S. is at the doorstep of becoming a net oil exporter. Voting truly counts and we need a well-informed public and knowledgeable representation to ensure acting on positions based on more than ulterior agendas.

Bob Carnahan

White Salmon, Wash.

Where to place blame

The roll-out of the new programs to get more people under medical insurance turned out to be a big mess. A lot of blame is being cast around on politicians. Of course, they are not computer experts. They had to depend on what the computer program companies told them. No politician wants the kind of publicity they are getting. I suppose it will all work out well in the end, but we want to know who is really blame-worthy?

Let’s blame the computer program businesses which promised great results, produced great messes, charged great huge fees, and then walked away from the messes they had created after misleading the public and politicians about what they were producing.

John Ihle

Hood River

Meet Stephanie Nystrom

I did, and discovered a serious candidate who will soon challenge Mark Johnson for State Representative District 52. Stephanie presently serves as planning commissioner in Gresham. She is employed as chief financial officer and software engineer at Nystrom Engineering.

She is a strong advocate of education and stresses hands-on experience as an important component of an effective education program that can prepare graduates for the perilous path to full employment now faced by most.

She understands the importance of investing in people and local infrastructure to create a strong ethical and skill-based system where everyone is poised to succeed and make a good life for themselves and their families.

As the daughter of a minister she is prepared to take on the big-money small-conscience winner-take-all mentality that is stifling growth in our state and our country.

For more information and an invitation to a local house party in support of Stephanie visit http://bit.ly/1lvV2Th.

Laurie Balmuth

Hood River

Misinterpretation deliberate?

The other day I received an email from Rep. Greg Walden claiming that Medicare “recently announced that doctors at Critical Access Hospitals like Providence Hood River Memorial have to certify before they even admit a patient that the patient will be discharged from the hospital within 96 hours. If the patient stays longer than that arbitrary time limit, Medicare won’t reimburse the hospital for their services.”

Having recently been released from our hospital after about 136 hours, I was concerned to learn if that was true.

The Medicare rules as I read them clearly state that such hospitals must maintain an average length of stay of 96 hours. Also, as I understand it, the certification by the admitting doctor is that her or his expectation is that the patient will be discharged within 96 hours. The rather obvious intent of such rules is to have more apparently serious patients admitted at the outset at hospitals better able to handle such cases. In our case, probably in Portland.

I don’t think most of us would disagree with the rules as I understand and read them. We would all want to be sent to the hospital best situated to handle our medical issues, whether that be in White Salmon, Hood River, Portland or wherever. As ratepayers and taxpayers, that also makes good sense by efficient use of public monies.

(In an earlier letter, I noted how much less expensive, for us and Medicare, some medical tests and procedures would be in a Portland hospital.)

On the other hand, it also makes sense to allow for those instances where further or new circumstances require additional hospital days, such as apparently happened in my case.

What doesn’t make sense to me is for my Congressman — or anyone — to seemingly deliberately misinterpret and overstate a regulation in order to make bureaucracy look stupid. It is my experience, having worked in both government and business, that most bureaucracies, governmental or otherwise, don’t need any help in that! And, we certainly don’t need more laws to solve non-existent problems, such as Walden seems to be proposing in this case.

Dave Dockham

Hood River

To burn or chip?

It is Hood River Garbage’s prerogative to offer its free brush service on Wednesdays to help to process all the tree and brush clippings the valley has to offer. They have now limited it to just the residents of the city, a disappointment to those of us in the county trying to deal with brush that accumulates on properties.

The idea of returning to burn piles, as much as a number of my friends seem to love them, seems like going backwards to me. On a clear day in the Hood River Valley it seems crazy to clog the air with burn piles going everywhere. What is the answer? The cost of a chipper and the danger of accumulating chip piles igniting seems like an expensive and dangerous answer.

In a former community, I was hired to haul chips at a chipping landfill to combine with water treatment sludge which was combined with controlled cooling to be sold as compost two months later. Is there an entrepreneur in the house?

John Bryan

Hood River

Ignoring oil trains in Gorge

Hood River News seems to be ignoring the vitally important safety issue of oil trains passing through Mosier, Hood River and Cascade Locks.

Thankfully, The Oregonian’s Rob Davis has covered the topic in-depth on almost a daily basis. Headlines of six major articles in the past week provide a good summary of the issue: “Gov. John Kitzhaber: Don’t close oil train terminals, make cars safer”; “Wyden, Merkley: All oil trains should report routes, not just some”; “How Oregon oil train spill planning is lacking: 6 key takeaways”; “Oregon ill-prepared for oil train spill into waterways; containment booms spread sparsely”; “Oregon firefighters to get oil train shipment information after emergency federal order.”

On April 18, while driving I-84 between Mosier and Hood River, I saw apparently the first oil train to pass through Hood River. I learned later that it was crude oil from Utah.

A recent federal order requires railroads to give Oregon firefighters and first responders train shipment information, but ONLY for crude oil from the Bakken fields in North Dakota. Oil trains from Utah are exempt from the order.

According to The Oregonian, Union Pacific plans to increasingly move mile-long trains of crude oil from Utah on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge.

On April 30 an oil train derailed in Lynchburg, Va., resulting in an explosion, a massive fire and oil spill into the James River. A similar accident (or much worse) could happen on either side of the Columbia Gorge.

I think it’s high time for in-depth coverage on this issue by the Hood River News. Hooray for Lance Stryker on his “Disaster waiting” letter in the May 10 HRN.

Darryl Lloyd

Hood River

Party shifts

How times have changed! From 1960 until 1980 I voted for several Republicans, including Richard Nixon against Jack Kennedy in my first presidential vote, and Washington Gov. Dan Evans three times.

On some issues, such as the corrupting influence of big money, the Republican Party then was left of the Democratic Party now; e.g., President Eisenhower warned about the military-industrial complex and maintained the 90-percent income tax rate on the richest.

Today’s Republicans seem intent on turning government into an oligarchy run by the rich, if they haven’t already.

The Reagan administration initiated rampant deregulation, starting both parties’ moves to the right — Republicans extremely so, Democrats less so. Now I have difficulty voting for any Republican.

But President Clinton also promoted deregulation by signing the Republican-introduced repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act. That Act had served the country well since 1933 by separating investment banks from commercial banks. Its repeal was a key to almost 30 years of Republican-led deregulation responsible for the 2008 economic collapse.

Only under President Obama and the Democrats have needed regulations been partially restored.

Quoting a friend who voted for Barry Goldwater in 1964, “I never left the Republican Party; the Republican Party left me.”

Norm Luther

Spokane, Wash.

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