Tuesday, February 14, 2006

SEMPRA coverage in the Times-News

I wasn't able to have a letter printed in the Times-News because I'd already had one published for February, but I still wanted to express my opinion to the editors about the recent coverage about SEMPRA. This is the letter I sent to Chris Steinbach, Editor.

While reading the articles, I realized the people in Texas were pleased about the economic benefit of their coal plant. The first thing that came to my mind is that they sold themselves (and their future generations) for a temporary economic "fix". They were obviously a poor rural area and were limited on options--maybe they didn't have any other choice but to prostitute themselves. However, to truly address the concerns of those of us who are protesting the coal plant, the reporter should have included opinions of health workers or scientists. The concerns expressed by many highly intelligent and experienced individuals here in the Magic Valley were NOT addressed by similar counterparts in Texas. The Texans interviewed were so happy by the green that they don't see the black. In each photograph, I looked for the coal plant in the background... not one picture included it. Was that deliberate or an oversight? As for our struggling economy, I believe we have intelligent and educated leaders in our communities who are researching new industries which will BENEFIT our economy, not destroy our air and water.

As for the local supporters interviewed in today's Times-News, I also lived in a home with a coal furnace. I don't know if it had "filters" or not, but I do know that we had many respiratory issues during the winter and I had to wash black residue off of the walls regularly. To think of similar smoke settling over our valley makes me very frightened for our future. I don't mean to be snide or judgmental, but surely that couple wasn't the best you find to find a "supporter" for the coal plant? Was it impossible to locate someone who was educated in science (water, air, ag science, whatever!) or economic growth/impact or ??

I will not pretend to understand how people measure impacts of certain toxins and pollutants on our water, air, soil, and health. However, it doesn't take a scientist to recognize that our society has been ignorant of the repercussions of toxins (whether related to dairies, fish hatcheries, nuclear power plants, etc.) in the past. Many of those who were not ignorant have unforgivably looked the other way in order to increase their profits. It is so difficult and expensive to clean up these messes (nuclear waste, damage to the water table and Snake River, air pollution, etc.). Usually by the time the public recognizes the need to repair the damage, the people who created it are long gone. We are cleaning up after our grandparent's decisions (whether through ignorance or deliberate... does it matter?) and our own grandchildren will have to clean up after us.

Right now pregnant women are told to limit their diet of fish due to the impact upon their babies from the mercury they will ingest. How can we blow off mercury pollution when we already are aware of this impact? Pollutions and toxins are being researched to see how they've impacted the high rate of learning disabilities, autism, attention deficit disorders and more. How can we in good conscience approve this plant with the knowledge we DO have at this time? We should learn from the past and not repeat our mistakes.

Personally, I would prefer that before we consider allowing another toxic industry in Idaho, that we finish cleaning up the nuclear waste that has built up over the years. One toxic mess at a time, for the sake of our children.

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