Letters to the Editor, Feb. 22-25, 2016
Aviation is too critical to privatize
As a lifelong pilot and the first sitting member of Congress to go into space, I know as well as anyone how important aviation is for our society and our future. I spent many years with the Navy flying the Martin P5M surveillance aircraft, and then with the Utah Air National Guard flying the KC-97L Stratofreighter and a KC-135A Stratotanker. Now I fly my 1948 Ryan Navion.
My father was the first person to hold a pilot’s license in Utah and he played a key role in the creation of states’ aviation infrastructure. For our family, and for many families here, aviation is a way of life. But it is also a part of our fabric and economy that touches many parts of our life that many people do not realize. Those power lines that keep our electricity flowing are maintained by helicopters and aircraft. Patients are flown to trauma and rehabilitation centers using aircraft and airports and our businesses use our air transportation network to keep parts and people moving all day and night.
Aviation is an important part of our infrastructure and economy that we often do not see, but it is crucial for our livelihood — and that is why it is maintained as an important public resource.
Now that may all change. Since I’ve been in Congress, some have been pushing to privatize our air traffic control system and put the vital decisions affecting millions of Americans under a private board that would have no accountability to Congress. I am a tried and true Republican and I believe in the importance of the private sector, but our national air transportation system is and continues to be an enormously valuable asset to this country. It is also the safest and most diverse system in the world. It represents decades of public investment and planning.
As one example, in recent years, airlines have cut airline service to smaller cities by 20 percent. What would happen to these routes and the 46 public use airports around the state, many of which serve small and rural communities? How would other sectors of aviation fare, such as smaller airplanes and general aviation? General aviation represents an economic impact of more than $274 million annually in Utah. It provides critical access to communities around the state and enables our businesses to reach far off markets. It empowers farmers to survey and tend to their crops. General Aviation allows doctors to deliver specialized care to patents in remote communities and even supports direct point-to-point transportation of vital organs. General aviation is essential to the lifeblood of rural states such as Utah.
Congressional oversight of our Air Traffic Control system is the only way to guarantee that the nation’s air transportation system works in the interest of the public. For this reason, Congress should maintain its traditional role — not abdicate it.
Jake Garn, Former U.S. Senator
Salt Lake City, Utah
* * *
Kudos to county council for standing up to Reps. Bishop and Chaffetz
Thank you Summit County Council for standing strong with your original proposal to expand the High Uintas Wilderness area. Thank you for the care written into your proposal to protect watersheds.
Please do not accept the current version of Congressman Rob Bishop’s and Congressman Jason Chaffetz’s proposal which disregards the Summit County advisory group’s recommendations.
At present, the Bishop/Chaffetz Public Lands Initiative proposal is clearly pro-rampant exploitation of public lands. It is short-sighted leadership prioritizing short-term fossil fuel extraction generating short-term jobs with long-term and permanent degradation to land and watersheds.
Recreation and tourism dollars are infinite, providing we preserve the wild-ness of these lands.
Additionally, the Bishop/Chaffetz proposal ignores citizen efforts — including the history-making First Peoples, five tribal coalition — to protect the Bears Ears and Cedar Mesa.
Thank you also to all advisory committee members.
* * *
Hats off to Park City Ski Patrol!
Thursday brought winds to Park City like I’ve never seen. Fallen trees littered the ski runs and knocked out the power to much of the mountain. For just that one day I felt sorry for all the tourists that chose Park City for their President’s Week vacation. But come Friday morning it was a completely different story thanks to the Park City Ski Patrol that worked tirelessly into the night cutting and removing fallen trees.
The mountain was packed with happy tourists feeling like champion powder skiers, thrilled to experience our Utah powder and newly groomed runs in lovely sunshine. I was stunned at all the Ski Patrol had managed in less than 24 hours.
* * *
A conservative call to action
Our nation is at a crucial juncture. Both the U.S. House and Senate just passed into the control of the Conservatives whose primary interest is in preserving liberty and restoring the respect our nation once enjoyed.
On the other side we have Socialists trying to out-promise each other by making completely unrealistic and unsustainable commitments.
Now, also with a vacant Supreme Court seat to fill, the stakes are even much higher. We simply cannot allow the current lame-duck president to fill this position with a left-leaning liberal judge.
It is imperative that informed voters take to the polls like never before to ensure a viable outcome. One that will ensure the survival of our republic.
The USA has never needed good patriotic citizens as much as right now to speak out and vote!
James C. Green
The ivory-billed woodpecker is long gone, an iconic creature driven to extinction because of indifference.