Letters published Nov. 3, 2017

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Water plant permitting process has been deeply flawed

The discharge permit issued by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality should be seen for just what it is. The DEQ took over a year to come up with essentially the same analysis that they had prior to the receipt of over 250 objections and comments from the public. They have totally abdicated any responsibility to protect the environment of the Flathead Valley citizens and have chosen to limit their review of the environmental issues raised by this water bottling plant of Montana Artesian Water Company by doing the following:

They have approved a permit to discharge waste and rinse water based on a small start-up production level that is approximately 5 percent of what owner Lew Weaver is asking to pump from the aquifer in his DNRC permit. This permit allows Weaver to discharge waste water up to a maximum volume of 5 gallons/minute. This allowed the DEQ to cop out of its responsibilities to protect our environment in areas other than water discharge which are encompassed in a normal review of environmental issues such as air quality, negative impacts on flora and fauna, and further states that air quality standards are the responsibility of Flathead County. The “review” of the DEQ was based on a pumping production level which would call for 1-4 loaded semi-trucks per day as opposed to the more than 60 which would be required when the full amount of water being requested from the DNRC is bottled and shipped out of state.

The review of 22 environmental areas of concern listed on the DEQ assessment sheet was essentially ignored by this action as the DEQ has conveniently refused to look into any area other than the impacts of water discharge.

We call on the Montana Artesian Water Company to reduce its request to the DNRC to the amount that Weaver continues to tell the public he will pump and bottle. His repeated public pronouncements and ads in local papers contend that this is indeed a small family operation that is contemplated yet he adamantly refuses to lower the requested amount of water in his DNRC permit.

Water for Flathead’s Future believes that this permit, which is effective Nov. 1, is a total failure by our state environmental officials to protect our environment. We note that it took this agency more than a year following the receipt of a huge public outcry over their preliminary approval to essentially rubber stamp their original decision with no further review. We believe that our state agencies, both the DEQ and the DNRC, are failing us by allowing this venture to go forward. We encourage all citizens to complain to the county commissioners, who have repeatedly stated that they have no responsibility for the water bottling plant and have abdicated their role to the state. In this permit by the DEQ they have done the same thing: pointed to areas such as dust control as being a county responsibility. Additionally, contact should be made with the governor’s office to express your displeasure with how the state has failed to address these concerns. —Deirdre Coit, Kalispell, chair of Water For Flatheads Future

Charge all cars, not just gas users

I agree we need to take care of our roads and bridges and the best way to do that is by the user fees. All who drive should pay including electric and hybrid vehicles by an annual fee or one based on mileage.

And for the lower-income resident, a lower-income tax might be appropriate.

As far as expanded Medicaid this was a huge mistake. And we are seeing this cost and others in the current health-care debate. Mr. Tester and other Democrats should be thinking about the huge increases in their constituents’ cost and not loyalty to Chuck Schumer and the President Trump haters. Obamacare is an total disaster and costing many people huge increases in their health-care costs. —Dexter Hamilton, Kalispell

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to an editing error, Hamilton’s letter ran without a headline or signature on Wednesday.)

An imaginary John McCain

A strange thing happened as I was walking the high school track. I had an imaginary interview with Sen. John McCain.

“Welcome, senator, and thank you.

“Thank you. Bob, for asking and listening. You asked me to comment on how my illness may have affected my life and how it may relate to my position on the health care issue in Congress right now.

A life-threatening illness affects everyone differently, but the overwhelming majority of people I have talked with in similar situations agree on one thing: It causes much serious self-reflection. A small minority remain fearful and filled with blame and anger.

In my case, this self-reflection caused me to really look at my career as a politician, a candidate, a person, and some of the beliefs behind my positions on things.

In looking at the whole health care for America subject, I was able to put aside political party and old fixed ideas resulting from politics rather than progress. It was funny how some of these new thoughts came to me and seemed so sensible. I looked at all my fellow Democratic senators in a whole new way. Instead of adversarial thoughts, I had thoughts of teamwork and what the people of our nation expect of us.

I started listening very closely to both parties’ legislators and to people speaking in public events about health care. I began to realize how deep political divides were totally blurring the main focus on health care in America and aiming instead at selfish and face-saving strategies.

Without going into further detail on this, just my self-reflection and willingness to listen carefully and see beyond my own position-in-life has brought me to where I am right now on the health care subject. Do you have any further questions?” My answer was “No, it was complete.” We shook hands and the interview was over.

And, by the way, I found a nickel while walking the track. Talk about “being on the right track!” —Bob McClellan, Polson

Trump should follow example of Eisenhower

To avoid a nuclear exchange at this point with North Korea, I think Americans need to employ a team effort. President Trump’s goading of Kim Jong-un is speeding up the point of no return when we need to slow it down. Trump initially said he “would be honored” to meet with the North Korean leader. I was proud to hear him say that. So do it. Don’t be afraid. During his campaign in 1952 Dwight Eisenhower said, “I will go to Korea.” He went even before his inauguration and did not approve the planned offensive, setting up instead the armistice that is in place today.

This isn’t Hiroshima. Nukes have never been delivered by rockets. You don’t need to. Article I, Section 8, subsection 11 of the U.S. Constitution should be invoked by the U.S. Congress, requiring the president as commander-in-chief to have a congressional declaration of war before launching nuclear war. The framers gave that power to Congress to prevent this sort of thing.

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman has visited North Korea and is on good terms with the ruling family. Use him. President Obama somehow used Bill Clinton and Al Gore to secure the release of U.S. prisoners in North Korea. Put them on the team , too. We can’t put Trump on the bench, but he can’t be the only spokesman for America. —Ron Carter, Libby

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