12 April 2006: Earth Day & I-70

Clear Creek wants an Earth-friendly I-70

Saturday, April 22, will mark the 37th Earth Day. Some will write it off as a day for tree-hugging kooks and loonies to “do their thing.” My suspicion is that those who hold that point of view—and I admit I am generalizing here—are likely to be ones who do not pay serious attention to their personal health vis-à-vis good eating habits, exercise, and mental and spiritual development. For those who take their personal health seriously, Earth Day is a time to focus on the health of our planet because, in the end, one cannot separate the two. Thus, if one is not concerned about taking care of his/her self, one can hardly expect him/her to give a fig about Mother Earth.

When taking a holistic approach to personal health, one does not look at heart disease or aching joints simply as localized issues. A specific ailment can be a manifestation of a larger, perhaps ongoing “dis-ease,” as it is often phrased. We are, in short, a complete package. The old adage reminds us, “we are what we eat,” but we are also what we do and what we think. Like the human body, Planet Earth is a complete integrated system. We learn, for example, in elementary school about how trees breathe in air animals have exhaled and exhale what we need. The ocean currents function much as the human blood stream, circulating the globe in an inter-connected manner, providing, among other things, warmer climates to far north lands such as England. If we look at Earth Day as we do our annual medical checkups, the diagnosis is grim and prognosis grimmer. Mother Earth’s lungs are becoming more polluted, as a chain-smoker’s; her currents are being clogged, as arteries plugged with fat and cholesterol. The issues are global as well as local, including the dominant one in our front yard, I-70.

In my April Fools’ piece, I satirized CDOT and its Executive Director Tom Norton writing, “As for environmental justice for the region, Norton suggested it is an antiquated concept. ‘Look,’ he sniffed, ‘anyone with half a brain can see that Clear Creek is just a scenic by-way for the important people of Vail, Breck, and Highlands Ranch. Sometimes the little people have to suck it up for their betters.’” While not literally saying it, it is what Norton says by way of his actions. When it comes to transportation issues, Norton, as well as his boss Governor Owens, is a junk-food junkie. He cannot lay enough asphalt. His solution for our occasionally clogged artery is to insert a super-sized stint—adding more lanes, knowing full well in short time the inevitability of re-plugging. If he were a doctor, his prescription for obesity would be more Big Macs; for diabetes, more Coke; for emphysema, more Marlboros. Indeed, Mr. Norton’s alter ego appears to be “Dr. Clog.”

Commissioner Harry Dale understands a more intelligent intervention would be by-pass surgery—rail. Dale, along with Jo Ann Sorenson and Randy Wheelock, talked recently on my KYGT show about how the process involving the I-70 Coalition has been manipulated from the get-go by CDOT. He noted, “In the end, we could do anything we wanted, as long as the result was six-lane widening.” Harry Dale deserves a Clear Creek Profiles in Courage Award. He has been biting his tongue for some time, working to find consensus, until coming to the stark reality that the process all along has been fixed. Region 1 Director Jeff Kullman, CDOT’s front guy, went one step too far. His comments (see last week’s “Courant”) were an insult not only to Harry but also to Clear Creek residents who resent what CDOT wants to do to their home.

It is time for a passionate defense of Clear Creek. Logic, reason, and consensus building are proving futile. It is time to accept the fact this is class warfare, an attack by the “Haves,” those that have power and money and care not a fig for Clear Creek, on the “Have-nots,” the “Little People” of Clear Creek. It is an assault on your home, your family, your business, your way of life. It is personal, environmental, and in the end, political. It is time for the battle to be joined. David vs. Goliath. David might only be armed with only a slingshot, but what a mighty weapon it can be.

An aside: Last week, Mr. Graeber wrote “Being a politician has got to be one of the lowest life forms.” Yes, there are the likes of Tom DeLay, “Duke” Cunningham, and Jim Welker. Yet, for all those, there are countless honorable men and women, in all parties, who put self-interest aside, dedicate their lives to the good of the commonweal, and work to spread liberty and justice to all. My thanks to Commissioner Harry Dale, Senator Joan Fitz-Gerald, Rep. Tom Plant, and so many others for their service and for enduring mean-spirited personal attacks—as that is what makes America great: public service and freedom of speech and of the press.

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