Tuesday, May 24, 2016     Volume: 30, Issue: 43
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Weekly Poll
What's the best way to fight the drought?

We need water recycling facilities to make better use of the water we are already using.
We've got an entire ocean right next to us. Desalination is the way to go.
Conservation. Residents and businesses need to reduce their water use even further.
Steal water from other states. Michigan doesn't need all those lakes anyway.

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New Times / Letters to the Editor

Someone needs a civics lesson

Shirley Bianchi - Cambria -

This letter is in response to the letter “California is unfairly represented in U.S. Senate” published in the May 12 issue of New Times.

The author is the perfect example of why we need to return the teaching of civics in our high schools.

Each state is represented according to population in the House of Representatives, and each state is represented geographically in the Senate. Thus, the collective representation of the states is balanced out.

Sometimes I do believe that I have fallen down a rabbit hole!


Don't let people outside the district elect our next representative

John Kelly - San Luis Obispo -

Now more than ever, it is important for voters to do their own research when it comes to choosing their next representative. And that research shouldn’t stop at what the candidates say, but also what is not being said—whom they are raising money from. After hearing Bill Ostrander, one of the candidates in the 24th District congressional race, speak about the importance of campaign finance reform, I decided to look into the candidates running for Lois Capps’ seat. 

From all the 24th Congressional District candidates, one stood out like a soar thumb—Justin Fareed. An article in the Santa Maria Times by Kenny Lindberg reported more than 69.2 percent of Fareed’s fundraising totals accounted for money outside of the district. I am not a rocket scientist, but something does not add up when more than two-thirds of your donations are from outside interests. As a voter in the 24th District, I will not let outsiders decide what is best for my family and me. Who are these contributors and why do they care so much about a candidate who will not even represent them in Congress? I have asked these tough questions and you should, too.


The EPA should open its eyes

Cameron Gurley - Cal Poly student -

The U.S. EPA requested more information from California’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) regarding an applicant’s request to exempt a San Luis Obispo County aquifer from the Safe Drinking Water Act. To the EPA, I say: Here are three reasons to deny this application.

First, DOGGR has approved thousands of wells for extracting oil and re-injecting wastewater in protected aquifers throughout the state. Some of these wells operate within Price Canyon, outside of the exempted aquifer. With this in mind, it would be foolish for the EPA to reward criminal behavior.

Second, the U.S. Geological Survey recently published a study that examined consequences of fracking and underground injection wells in nearby ecosystems. The article cites changes in the downstream nutrient content and how it can disrupt endocrine processes. In short, these practices observably damage local environments and the organisms that inhabit them (i.e., humans). How unfortunate: two agencies working in direct opposition of each other.

Third is Freeport McMoRan’s claim that this aquifer is “geologically isolated.” To this claim I say that Oklahoma’s increase in earthquakes due to wastewater injection is cause for alarm. An earthquake is the kind of mechanism that makes an underground formation go from isolated to leaking.


Hill's record is proof of balance

Patricia Harris - San Luis Obispo -

A lot of candidates say they bring balance, but the proof is in the record. Supervisor Adam Hill has helped shaped important social programs like 50Now to house chronically homeless and Laura’s Law to provide intense services to mentally ill citizens who may be prone to violence.

He has also been an important and consistent voice among all elected officials on jobs. From helping get the solar farms approved, to co-chairing the economic development project, to working with tech companies to keep them here, he’s trusted by business leaders for good reasons.

And on the environment, he is a leader on conservation projects such as the Pismo Preserve and has also collaborated with local government to expand trails and bikeways—something that is important to both locals and the many tourists who visit our county each year.

Vote for Adam Hill and let’s keep moving forward!


What does the Shredder think it is?

Gary Wechter - Arroyo Grande -

I want to thank you for printing my commentary on why I’m supporting Donald Trump (“I’m not ignorant,” May 12). I think it’s important for your readers to hear from those with a different point of view. That’s one reason why I read New Times regularly and contribute occasionally.

Your Shredder comment, however, insinuating that I might be “dumber than a sack of combed-over hair” and “ignorant and racist” only reassures me that my points must have hit their mark and, perhaps, hurt your sensitivities (“Signs of the times,” May 12). I know that most folks on the left vote their feelings rather than common sense.

Let’s face it, the U.S. economy sucks and your guy had seven years to fix it and it still sucks. And now you want to continue toward oblivion with crooked Hilary. Are you serious? Did you ever think that a different direction might yield a better outcome? Remember, it’s the folks who read your paper that are paying the lion’s share of the cost for these high ideals and poor policies not us retired folks.

And Shredder’s comment “Herr Wechter” was uncalled for. Yes, my father was Jewish and some of his family did die in the German death camps, but we’ve left that behind us and feel lucky and grateful to be living the American dream.

Please tell the Shredder to smarten up.


We need to protect what we have left

Natalie Risner - Price Canyon -

Thank you for Camillia Lanham’s article about federal environmental officials raising major questions about Freeport McMoRan’s effort to have a San Luis Obispo County aquifer exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act (May 12, “EPA wants more data in Freeport McMoRan aquifer exemption”). 

Neighbors of the Arroyo Grande oil field have been asking similar questions as we wait for authorities to decide the fate of our water in Edna Valley. We’ve been asking since last September, when the state’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) held a public hearing where hundreds of residents showed up to express concern for their water wells. 

We now know that DOGGR—the regulatory entity responsible for keeping the oil industry from polluting our water—has been asleep at the wheel. These state officials allowed the oil industry to drill illegally into protected aquifers in Arroyo Grande and across the state, injecting “produced water” into waste disposal wells and using water-intensive cyclic steam and steam flood injection wells outside the boundaries where they’re supposed to operate. 

There are at least 100 domestic water wells within a mile of this oil field. Neighbors are worried. 

They’re talking about wells drying up and water levels dropping. And they are increasingly standing together to demand that regulators protect their water. 

We are in an extreme drought with no end in sight. We must protect the water we do have. Sacrificing our water to the oil industry as a trash dump for oil waste is not what I want for San Luis Obispo. 


Fog is our friend

Robert Sonek - Atascadero -

While weatherman Dave Hovde was often grossly inaccurate with the predicted flooding from El Niño 2015-2016, I understand that weather forecasting is an inaccurate science. However, now that we are past his “sky is falling” animated rain predictions, I am perturbed by his almost daily display of angst and worries about clouds, fog, drizzle: The typical May-to-June weather pattern. I fall far short of his expertise in weather or meteorology. I do recall that this region of California has its weather influenced by the Pacific Maritime weather system. In fact, the maritime region from Santa Barbara north is often referred to as the “graveyard of the Pacific.” This is due to the surplus of maritime wrecks that were cause by the reduced visibility from these frequent fogs. These fogs have been here for thousands of years. Why does he act surprised or worried when Mother Nature acts normal?

Myself, I welcome any clouds, fog, and drizzle. We are in a record drought. Clouds, fog, and cooler temperatures reduce evaporation from water sources. The need for irrigation is also reduced. The need for air-conditioning is reduced. Lakes experience less evaporation, and they are dismally low. I could go on. I see a plethora of benefits. Hovde wants his “endless summer.” I think that he should rethink his dream and welcome any/all respite from an endless baking sunshine. The fact that south of San Francisco we did not see the relief from El Niño should temper his fog disdain. Relish any fog. The majestic redwoods north of us would not survive without summer fog. Let’s take any moisture, clouds, reduced heat/sunshine as a gift from the gods.