Archive for September 28, 2010

Testament–Why I Am Testifying At The EPA Coal Ash Hearings

Several weeks ago, I signed up to testify at an environmental hearing, something that I’ve never done before.  Why?  Not because of any special expertise, although I’ve been involved and concerned about environmental issues all of my life, and written about this issue multiple times on my blog and elsewhere.

Rather, it is because I am a citizen of this country who lives in an area that is deeply and detrimentally impacted by the poor regulation of the coal industry and the toxic impact it has on our environment. The Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of holding hearings throughout the country regarding proposed plans to regulate  coal ash ponds like the one that was breached in Tennessee in 2008, causing horrific damage. This week there will be a hearing in Louisville, KY where I live.

Currently, these ponds are virtually unregulated.  But despite being a news reading junkie, until the Tennessee disaster, I had no idea these things even existed, let alone that their owners were apparently on the honor system in regard to their safety.

This map, via the Sierra Club, gives a great graphic understanding of how many of these disposal sites there are in the U.S. (see here as well for an excellent list of resources to learn more about this horrific problem).

So call it an act of patriotism, or just a variation on the subject matter of my usual ranting and raving, but I decided to participate and to tell the Environmental Protection Agency that as a citizen, I expect them to do what their name implies.  Here is my testimony:

Testimony for the EPA Coal Ash Residuals Public Hearing
Louisville, KY Sept. 28, 2010

My name is Lucinda Marshall and I’ve lived in Louisville, KY for more than 20 years and I’m appalled that it wasn’t until after the Tennessee coal ash disaster that I became aware that we have toxic coal ash ponds right here in metropolitan Louisville.

According to the Sierra Club, in the state of Kentucky alone we have 44 ponds at 17 plants, 7 of which are rated as high hazards, and 5 as significant hazards.  This is unacceptable.

After the incredible damage caused by the Tennessee pond breach, I am particularly horrified that these things are located in the middle of a large population center such as Louisville.  If such a disaster happened here, the damage it would cause would be unimaginable and far worse than the Tennessee disaster.

Given that, I absolutely can’t understand how the EPA can consider anything but the most stringent guidelines for these facilities with the ultimate goal of making them illegal.  It is beyond belief that these wastes are still considered exempt from such regulation.

There has been report after report documenting the highly negative impact that coal has on our environment as well as on human health.  I am particularly concerned about the impact on pregnant women and children.

And all that talk about how coal is good for the economy?  That sure hasn’t worked out so well in Kentucky which remains one of the poorest, least educated and least healthy states in the nation and no amount of building golf courses where amputated mountaintops used to stand will change that.

The people of Kentucky, the southeast and the entire nation deserve the right to a clean environment that is not being poisoned because of corporate malfeasance and greed and it is incumbent on the Environmental Protection Agency to do what its name implies and stringently regulate coal ash disposal.

Thank you.


(Note:  There is a three minute time limit on on testimony that is presented publicly, thus the brevity of my statement, much more can and should be said.)

A Time To Turn Away

In a moment completely severed from reality, Vice President Joe Biden went on The Colbert Report the other night and thanked former President Bush for honoring the people who serve in the military.

“Mr. President, thank you,” Biden said of Bush during his interview in a “Colbert Report: Been There Won That” special. “You’ve honored these guys, you’ve honored these women, you’ve honored these troops. And I’ve known you your entire eight years as president. I’ve never known a time when you didn’t CARE about happened. We disagreed on policy. But you deserve a lot of credit, Mr. President.”

Why he did that is truly a mystery.  Credit for what exactly?  Indeed we should be disagreeing about policies that include lying to the American people about the reasons for going into a war that has been a huge contributing factor to our economic disaster and has cost so many lives.  And imagine if instead of honoring the lives of soldiers, we honored the lives of civilians?  Our civilians, their civilians.  The civilians who reportedly had their fingers turned into trophies by some of our hash smoking defenders,

Twelve American soldiers face charges over a secret “kill team” that allegedly blew up and shot Afghan civilians at random and collected their fingers as trophies.

Five of the soldiers are charged with murdering three Afghan men who were allegedly killed for sport in separate attacks this year. Seven others are accused of covering up the killings and assaulting a recruit who exposed the murders when he reported other abuses, including members of the unit smoking hashish stolen from civilians.

And combat mission over or not, Iraq is still game on, with private contractors and other troops still very much in residence in Iraq and the horrors experienced by Iraqi civilians because of our actions being woefully unaddressed.  One wonders what it is the Pentagon thinks it is defending.  Apparently not freedom of the press:

Defense Department officials are negotiating to buy and destroy all 10,000 copies of the first printing of an Afghan war memoir they say contains intelligence secrets, according to two people familiar with the dispute.

Meanwhile a judge who obviously has a better grip on the Constitution than the Pentagon does, courageously rules the obvious that should have been understood and rectified years ago rather than a hate-filled ongoing national debate,

In a blockbuster legal decision, a California judge last night declared the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that bars gay and lesbian soldiers from serving in the US military to be unconstitutional, saying the ban violated the first amendment rights of homosexuals and harmed the effectiveness of the armed forces.

But never mind all that, will he or won’t he, America waits breathlessly,

An anti-Islamic preacher backed off and then threatened to reconsider burning the Quran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, angrily accusing a Muslim leader of lying to him Thursday with a promise to move an Islamic center and mosque away from New York’s ground zero. The imam planning the center denied there was ever such a deal.

To borrow the famous words of Phil Ochs, it is time to turn away from this.

FedEx–We’re Sending You This Invoice (Via The USPO) Because Your Name Is Similar To The Person We’re Supposed To Bill

I should have known something was up when FedEx sent me a letter via the U.S. Postal Service, but really you gotta love this–they want me to pay this bill because my name is similar (sort of) to someone else’s.  No, don’t think so.

In case you can’t read that gem of a note, it begins, “Fed Ex was unable to bill the account for the party indicated on the shipping document or the account number was missing.  Therefore we are  invoicing you for the charges associated with this shipment.”

Just goes to support my theory that I should stick to writing about the truth because I am definitely not creative enough to make this stuff up.