October 19, 2016

Environmental choice: ‘Pay now or pay later’

    Over and over, I’ve written about Republic’s aim to build mountains of toxic coal ash in Wayne County.
    By now, you probably think I’m sounding more and more like a broken record when it comes to fighting to keep that added pollution risk out of Coastal Georgia.  I make no apologies.  If it takes three years or longer, I am committed—just as thousands of you are—to maintain Energizer-Bunny persistence.  We must keep on going and going and going and going.
    That’s why, as long as I am breathing, almost everything relates to our pending environmental crisis.  For example, take my socks and T-shirts.  For dress shoes, I buy only black or brown socks.  Under all my dress and casual shirts, regardless of the season, I wear a white V-neck T-shirt. 
    Now, you ask: “What do your socks and undergarments have to do with toxic coal-ash handling?
    “Everything,” I say.
    With clothing, we desire inexpensive quality.  What we sometimes get is cheap.  Lately, I’ve noticed my favorite sock and T-shirt brands are not as good as they used to be.  An increased investment in those two items is justified to get improved quality and longevity of wear.  Simply, you get what you pay for.
     Dumping toxic coal ash in municipal solid-waste landfills, such as in Broadhurst, is a relatively inexpensive way for utility companies to deal with the disposal problem.  But what we are getting is cheap insurance to protect us from future woes.  Call it what you wish, but I say: “It’s irresponsible and ‘kicking the can down the road’ by letting the yet-to-be-born pay for and suffer from a selfish and unacceptable choice.”  
      Remember the FRAM oil-filter commercial?  In 1972, a grease-smudged mechanic debuted on TV, warning us: “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.”  His message was clear.  If you don’t take care of your vehicle with quality parts now, you’ll pay for expensive repairs later.  So goes it with our environment.  Weak laws, teamed with let’s-get-by-as-cheaply-as-we-can decisions, will bring future consequences which will be dreadfully expensive to our health and the health of our natural resources.
     Believe it or not, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified coal ash as non-hazardous. Yet, according to the EPA, “The slurry in coal-ash ponds, depending on where the coal was mined, typically contains heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium, selenium, barium, boron, cobalt, manganese, thallium and zinc.”
     The United States Affiliate of International Physicians website gives this scary explanation:  “If eaten, drunk or inhaled, these toxicants can cause cancer and nervous system impacts such as cognitive deficits, developmental delays and behavioral problems. … They can also cause heart damage, lung disease, respiratory distress, kidney disease, reproductive problems, gastrointestinal illness, birth defects and impaired bone growth in children.”
      Are any of those frightening disorders something you want to pass along as a gift to the great-great-great-grandchildren you’ll never have snuggle in your lap?
      I say, “No, and hell no!”
      That’s why we must go on and on and on with our fight to keep Republic from building mountains of toxic coal ash in our community.