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Every so often those people we elect in Washington attempt to do something so egregious for their corporate donors that it shakes the very foundation of our democracy. Well, it is happening again in the form of HR 3409, a bill proposed by the coal industry and disguised by the helpful-sounding title “Coal Miner Employment and Domestic Energy Infrastructure Protection Act.” After all, who could be against employment during a recession, and we all know that our infrastructure needs protecting, right?

So here is what this bill would actually do if it passes. According to, it would completely take away the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to issue regulations between now and Dec. 31, 2013, under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977. In other words, it would take away most of the federal government’s oversight of the coal industry when it comes to strip mining and other unsavory practices as well as eliminate the fed’s ability to declare certain areas off limits to coal mining.

Just think of the real jobs that would be created: more biologists to study the extinction of amphibians due to acid rain, more health care workers to handle the additional asthma attacks and other pulmonary side effects of burning coal, more lawyers to litigate the surface damages after the companies abandon their mines, leaving a giant scar where a hill once stood. And ultimately more morticians to make sure that those who pass as a result of breathing in what comes out of the stacks of energy companies look good on their big day.


It’s spring and there’s a buzz in the air. Literally.

Bee swarm season starts in mid-April and carries on until June. And while it’s tempting to swat them away, the population of swarming yellow and black insects includes honeybees, which are key in pollinating crops. Honeybee populations are decreasing by about 35 percent each year.

The swarms, the size of a football or soccer ball, often hang off tree branches or bushes.

Swarms are not aggressive.

They’re a natural part of a bee colony’s life cycle. Typically, it means the bees are splitting their hive. The bees should not be disturbed or sprayed.

If you’re concerned about a bee swarm, you can call a Bee Guardian to come collect the swarm. The bee swarm hotline is 720- 443-2331.

More information is available from Backyard Hive, at


With all we now know about elephants, their intelligence, their loyalty to one another, their majestic beauty in the wild, it is difficult to imagine that humans are once again beginning to slaughter these creatures for their ivory tusks and the trinkets that can be carved from them.

Charlie Mayhew of Tusk Trust recently told NBC News, “What we have witnessed over the last 18 months or two years has been a significant escalation in the poaching of both rhino for rhino horn and elephant for ivory, fueled by sort of a dramatic increase in demand from consumers in the Far East. Last year we believe that as many as 35,000 elephants may have been slaughtered for their ivory.”

One of the worst hit areas is in Cameroon, where so far this year nearly 650 elephants in one national park have been slaughtered for their tusks. This represents more than half of the elephant population of the entire park.

All of this carnage is transpiring despite a U.N. agreement that supposedly bans the international trade of ivory. Unfortunately, some cashstrapped African countries that claim to have stockpiles of ivory harvested from prior to the U.N. ban have sought and received exemptions for selling their ivory stocks.

This sanctioned sale of ivory is what has created the cover for today’s poachers to sell their recently harvested tusks on the black market.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.

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