Gorsuch and Rocky Flats

There seems to be a consistent effort of the Colorado media to support confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court of the United States. I admit I’ve been impressed by what I’ve read and seen about his intelligence and demeanor. I can’t help but be impressed by a man who says things such as “Gosh” and “Golly.” However, I must register a significant concern. Gorsuch was a key to the 10th Circuit issuing a legal decision that will result in significant compensation to landowners near the Rocky Flats Plant (and their attorneys).

The case is very complicated, and I’ll do my best to summarize. (I’ll warn that the discussion to follow is a very simplistic summary of an incredibly complicated story.) A jury decided to award multi-millions in compensation was due to landowners near Rocky Flats, but that decision was overturned by the 10th Circuit Court. The ruling was overturned because it was determined that there was no proof of damage from the operations of Rocky Flats, to include reduction of property values. Effectively, it was ruled that perception of damage was insufficient to award damages.

Enter Gorsuch, and my concern about the Judge’s qualifications. The original ruling was vacated. The new ruling mentions that Dow and Rockwell managed the Plant under contracts with the federal government. “But everything ground to a halt in 1989. That’s when FBI agents raided the plant and unearthed evidence of environmental crimes. It turns out plant workers had mishandled radioactive waste for years. Some had been poured into the ground and leached into nearby bodies of water. Some had been released into the air and filtered its way into the soil throughout the area. As news of all this emerged, the plant’s neighbors saw their property values plummet.”

I published a book a few years back titled “An Insider’s View of Rocky Flats: Urban Myths Debunked.” Its obvious Judge Gorsuch hasn’t read the book, because it, as suggested by the title, debunks many of the urban myths that are repeated in the Gorsuch summary. I’m going to refer to the book and will provide specific page numbers to respond to several salient points. The FBI did not unearth evidence of environmental crimes. Items listed in the eventual plea bargain had been reported to the public and regulators before the infamous raid of the plant. A key member of the team that investigated Rocky Flats told the Wolpe Congressional Committee, “Virtually none of the allegations contained in the search warrant were borne out by full investigation” (page 82 of my book).

On the issue of offsite contamination from the plant, the Wolpe report adds that in retrospect that the investigation found that the issues should have been resolved civilly and not criminally. It is explained “That is primarily because of the marginal evidence of criminal intentional misconduct and the lack of any significant environmental harm” (also on page 82). Not convinced? The Judge in the United States District Court Sentencing of the resulting plea bargain forced by the Justice Department commented “.  .  .the environmental harm caused by the charged violations was generally limited to inside the plant’s boundaries” (page 89).

The Grand Jury investigating Rocky Flats operations charged that the plant had engaged in activities “. .  .which violate(s) Federal environmental laws.” This may have been the source of the Gorsuch comment about “.  .  .evidence of environmental crimes.” Gorsuch et al apparently were unaware that the U.S. Justice Department responded that the Grand Jury had been repeatedly told that the charges “.  .  .are not crimes and are covered by various orders and regulatory agreements” (page 93)

So what? Gorsuch et al issued a legal decision that results in $375 million dollars of taxpayer money being awarded. The contractors were indemnified and the Department of Energy will have to cover the costs. The award (forty percent of which will be paid to the plaintiffs lawyers) will be based on the fact that Rocky Flats was a “nuisance” and not because there was any environmental damage or reduction in property values.

I’m going to make a sales pitch. My book “An Insider’s View of Rocky Flats: Urban Myths Debunked” is available at Amazon, and it contains many more details than what are in this summary. (The online version is only $3.99, and that version includes several pictures to include burning plutonium and two different plutonium ingots.) I don’t profit from royalties, so I offer this information without a benefit for myself. I’ll also comment that a second book is currently in editing, and that book will present a detailed justification for why the Rocky Flats Plant was crucial to preventing World War III through implementing the policy of Nuclear Deterrence. Rocky Flats being a “nuisance” seems to be a trivial price to pay for such a momentous outcome?

Should Gorsuch be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court? I hope, if he is, that he is more careful to base his decisions on facts and not urban myths that have been inculcated into popular acceptance!

Another Potential Disaster Caused by Global Warming

Several aspects of the Global Warming debate fascinate me. One is argument that there is no debate. I consistently read that 97 percent of scientists believe it is real and is caused by man. There was a petition by Dr. Art Robinson that disputed that assertion, and over 33,000 people with at least Bachelor of Science degrees signed it. It was attacked because there were a few “fake names” used in the signatures. Let’s pretend some portion of the signatures were valid. I’ll pick that there were 30,000 legitimate scientists who signed the petition. There would have to have been 1,000,000 scientists who disagreed with the petition for the 97 percent assertion to be valid. Another attack against the petition is that the scientists who signed it weren’t experts in climate science. I signed it, and am guilty as charged. I am not an expert in climate science, but consider that I have a rudimentary understanding of scientific methods.

One of my work assignments was pretending to be the manager for several scientists with advanced degrees. They often enjoyed arguing with each other about scientific interpretation. I’m trying to imagine how disgusted they would have been if I had stepped into the middle of a discussion and declared “The science is settled.” (I think that statement, which I consider to be absurd, explains why I persist in questioning/denying.)

Another aspect of the discussion or debate is that the lower temperature last year was optimal. It seems that only negative effects can result from the temperature increasing. Of course there are several positive effects of warmer temperatures, such as increased yields for some crops. But, according to NPR, even that isn’t a positive. Global warming, according to the reports, could cause a shortage of salad. Warmer temperatures caused the Arizona lettuce harvest to wrap up early and central California, which fills the salad needs after Arizona drops off, had heavy precipitation that delayed some plantings. I agree this is terrible, because I really like salads. And apparently there will be a shortage unless we stop the many human activities resulting in carbon dioxide emissions that cause higher temperatures and increased localized precipitation? Or maybe it’s too late! So far I’ve been able to buy all the salad-making materials I want, but I guess I should live in fear that is about to end because of global warming?

Predatory Lawsuits

I’ve been disgusted with the power of the litigation industry since President Bill Clinton vetoed a law that would have addressed frivolous medical lawsuits. The veto came, as I recall, after it was passed by the House and the Senate. Fast forward to today and consider the number of ads on television asking for people to sign up for money available because of “medical malpractice.”

My disgust was reinforced by a Denver Post editorial titled, “Predatory lawsuits only hurt ADA compliance.” There has been a profitable litigation industry that has evolved from the laws that were passed to protect the rights of disabled citizens. There are several examples given in the editorial of people who have, with legal help, profited from the ADA legislation. One is a person named in the article who has succeeded at getting out of court settlements for 64 lawsuits against small businesses who weren’t given the chance to make corrections to the violations before being required to pay. Others have found this to be a lucrative process. A Floridian who travels to Colorado has filed 71 lawsuits. There are other examples of people who have successfully filed lawsuits based on the law. They often do not even need to pay filing fees for their lawsuits “because of their income level.” Apparently income from out of court settlements doesn’t count as “income.”

Our legislators seem to be eager to pass regulations that protect “fairness.” Perhaps they can find time to pass something that protects small business owners from predators who are interested in financial gain and not the protection of disabled customers.

Article about Safety of Rocky Flats

Nucl_Deter_Book_CvrI’m moving closer to publishing a book that will have “Nuclear Deterrence” in the title and will contain a history of the Rocky Flats Plant. (We’ll let you know when there is a new website for the project.) The new book presents information that should make everyone celebrate that Rocky Flats was key to preventing World War III. However, a recent article in the Denver Post emphasizes that critics of the plant who continue to find ways to create fear about the legacy of Rocky Flats. They argue about the risks of the site even after it was closed for about a decade ago. The article by Charlie Brennan of the Daily Camera is titled “Safe for wildlife, but what about humans?” The opening refers to a long-time activist that says the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge should not be open to human access for at least 24,110 years, which is the half life of plutonium 239. People who have made a living protesting Rocky Flats and continue to warn about the dangers left behind on the site say that it “.  .  .should be left to animals and the wind.” One argument presented is that “We live in an area that has abundant places to enjoy wildlife and nature without going to a place like Rocky Flats.” I’ll counter that with the observation that the buffer zone for the plant is one of the few places where the unique high mountain prairie has been preserved. People who are interested should be able to see the beauty of that area safely by using the several miles of the planned trails when the refuge opens.

The good news is that enough local municipalities have contributed to the Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) that will provide underpasses and trail segments. That will provide a link to the Rocky Mountain Greenway trail that will run from the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge to Rocky Flats and on to Rocky Mountain National Park. Enough municipalities agreed to support the project to make it a reality. Several State and Federal Agency officials have “. .  .signed off on the safety of the proposed refuge.  .  .  .” while critics continue to disagree.

Consider that many tens of thousands of people worked at the plant and many of them worked there for several decades. They worked in the industrial area that is now restricted from access. The people who worked at Rocky Flats are mostly living long lives. Walking on a trail through the area that was the buffer zone will be just as safe walking around a back yard in Boulder or a trail near Vail. Taking soil samples from the refuge should be accompanied by comparison samples from that back yard and the trail near Vail. None of us can walk anywhere, inside or out, without being exposed to the background levels of plutonium that were efficiently deposited world-wide by atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons.

I’ll close with the personal comment, which I’ve made previously. I’ll be willing to take my children and grandchildren on a hiking tour of the refuge without concern for their safety. My only concern is whether I’ll be able to keep up with them. I hope my new book will adequately present the fact that the very tiny to non-existent environmental risks at the site are overwhelmed by the fact that a policy of nuclear deterrence supported by the plant prevented World War III!

Read the Riot Act

The Phrase Finder explains that the this expression means to “Reprimand rowdy characters and warn them to stop behaving badly.” It had its origin in the actual English Riot Act of 1715. Any group of twelve or more unruly citizens had an hour to disperse or be arrested after the Riot Act was read to them. The English government was especially fearful of Jacobite mobs who wanted to overthrow the King and restore Roman Catholic Stuart King James VII of Scotland to the throne.

Russian Campaigns to Destroy Political Opponents

The U.S. media has been active at tying the election of Donald Trump to Russian hacking of Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails, but that isn’t the greatest danger from the Russians. That hacking would not have had negative effects on the election if the principals in the Hillary Clinton campaign had not sent messages that were politically embarrassing. I know the Democrats are bent on believing they would have won if the Russians hadn’t interfered, but it seems to me the Democrats had a flawed candidate who didn’t connect with Middle America.

Despite that personal belief, there is something important to understand about the skill of the Russians in shaping opinion. The intelligence operations within the Soviet Union were amazingly effective at destroying political opponents, and Russian organizations are being quite effective at carrying that forward. A recent article describes how Russian “kompromat” is used to destroy political opponents with no facts required. The term is used to describe compromising material for blackmail of those who the Russians have determined to be dangerous. The process involves “.  .  .high quality faked documentation.” The documentation includes “.  .  .hints, images, videos, promises of disclosures, perhaps even some high-quality faked documentation. Sex or pornography often figures prominently.”

We can hope the media with a free press will be able to counteract false reports generated by Russian intelligence services. We’ll see who wins; the free press with freedom of speech or the Russians bent on destroying those they deem to be unfriendly. My primary message is that everyone should be skeptical of any negative Russian campaign against anyone.