A Letter from Mobile
United States Attorney
Southern District of Alabama
63 South Royal Street, Suite 600
Mobile, AL 36602
Dear U. S. Attorney Brown:
When you spoke at the recent Mobile Bay Sierra Club meeting (in June) I said evidence abounds that soot—from sources including Alabama Power's coal-burning plant in north Mobile county—causes thousands of deaths annually in America. I asked whether this would be a basis for civil or criminal proceedings against the sources of the soot.
You said you would take into account any pertinent evidence we provided. Some is enclosed, in the form of a story from today's online Christian Science Monitor titled “EPA issues new soot regulations.”
It reports that “soot has been linked to thousands of premature deaths each year, as well as aggravation of respiratory illnesses, heart attacks and strokes.” And it quotes the chairman of the American Lung Association saying, “The science is clear, and overwhelming evidence shows that particle pollution (soot) at levels currently labeled as officially 'safe' causes heart attacks, strokes and asthma attacks.”
Isn't it true that behavior proceeding under color of law can nevertheless be found unjust, unwarranted, contrary to public policy, illegal, and/or unconstitutional? Didn't this happen with the tobacco litigation in recent years, and with civil rights cases in previous years, and in countless other cases trained lawyers would be acquainted with though I am not?
EDITOR's NOTE: *What is the last letter YOU wrote to someone who could make a change? Isn't it about time we all exercise our hard won constitutional rights and get the attention of the big polluters?
Pollution in Perry County, Alabama
The following story first appeared in the June 17, 2012 issue of "Huffington." magazine for the iPad. To learn more about the magazine, visit huffingtonmagazine.com.
Booker T. Gipson, 71, owns a small piece of land directly across County Road 1 from the Arrowhead landfill, just outside of Uniontown, Alabama. He's got a modest trailer on the property, perched on thigh-high cinder block columns, and he keeps a few head of cattle in an adjacent field.
Off the front of the trailer he's built a broad wooden deck, which a few years back offered views of gently rolling scrubland and low forest. Today, the deck looks out on a small mountain -- now among the highest geographical features in the area.
It's built of coal ash.
"It will just about choke you," Gipson says of the stench that sometimes rises from the pile.
Patches of newly-planted grass and dozens of white, hook-shaped gas vents now cover the artificial butte, which was formed between 2009 and 2010. In that time, roughly 4 million tons of coal ash -- sometimes known as fly ash or, more officially, as "coal combustion residuals" -- were dumped here. Laced with a variety of heavy metals like arsenic, mercury and lead, it's what's left over after coal is burned to produce electricity, something the United States continues to do in prodigious amounts.
EDITOR's NOTE: Take time to read this full article. Shocking.
Governor Bentley Gives Up!
Sierra Club can't claim full credit. Many have added their voices to the uproar. But the Mobile Bay Group and the Alabama Chapter of Sierra have been persistent and insistent opponents of the proposed ruinous elevated highway across Gulf State Park. Despite many potent supporters of this concrete atrocity, including mega real estate developers and the mayor of Orange Beach, governor Bentley has surrendered. He conceded that his decision was influenced by "a lot of controversy." That's us. http://blog.al.com/live/2012/06/conference_center_but_no_highw.html
submitted by David Underhill
Clean Air: Another Letter from a Sierra Club Member
On June 20, the U.S. Senate, on a largely partisan vote, defeated Oklahoma Senator Inhofe's resolution (S.J. Res. 37) that would block the EPA's emission standards for hazardous mercury, some other heavy metals, fine particulates, and acid gas pollutants from coal and oil-fired power plants. (Such standards were authorized by Congress in the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. Many power plants already have equipment that can be used to meet the new standards.) The resolution would have also prohibited the EPA from adopting substantially similar clean air standards in the future.
Mercury is a neurotoxin in fetuses and young children. Some other metals are known to cause cancer. Fine particulates are linked to heart attacks, bronchitis, and asthma.
Because of these new standards, jobs will be created, public health will be improved, and health care costs will be reduced.
Alabama's Senators Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby voted to block the standards.
129 Carter St.
Auburn, AL 36830
EDITOR's NOTE: Writing letters to the local newspaper is another way we can all get the word out that our environment is worth saving!
Bryan Burgess, Long Time Sierra Club Member Welcomes Agents to His Farm
When a small army of state and federal agents show up at a rural Alabama farm, you might expect a confrontation. But Bryan Burgess of Ashville has welcomed them.
Running through Burgess' farm is Big Canoe Creek, a relatively pristine Coosa River tributary that's home to more than 50 species of fish and an array of freshwater mussel species.
The government agents -- representing the Geological Survey of Alabama, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources -- have identified Big Canoe as one of the 50 best remaining aquatic habitats in the state. They'll need allies such as Burgess in the battle to preserve and improve water quality.
Read the full article at al.com: http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2012/06/alabama_landowners_partner_to.html
Freeland heading up Forever Wild campaign
With the legislative sessions finally behind us, Conservation Alabama can concentrate on the most important environmental issue facing our state this year: renewal of the Forever Wild Land Trust.
Kathy Stiles Freeland, noted as one of several parents of Forever Wild when it originally passed 20 years ago, is shifting her roles at Conservation Alabama to be our Field Coordinator for the renewal campaign. She is implementing our grassroots effort to educate voters about the program to ensure passage of Amendment 1 on November 6. Our campaign is part of a larger effort being spearheaded by The Nature Conservancy and Alabamians for Forever Wild.
More News from Conservation Alabama
Conservation Alabama wins award for picnic table
Conservation Alabama was pleased to participate in and support The Nature Conservancy's Picnic for the Planet event on Earth Day. Our picnic table, designed and painted by Peggy Gordon and Jennifer Roe, won the award for the "Best Environmental Theme." We are deeply thankful to Peggy and Jennifer for their creativity and hard work in making our picnic table so outstanding. You can see a picture of our table here.
AARP honors Conservation Alabama
AARP Alabama honored Conservation Alabama last week at the 5th Annual UAB/AARP Aging Policy Conference. Conservation Alabama was recognized for its work advancing complete streets policies at the local level. We are humbled by the award, and we look forward to continuing our strong partnership with AARP to ensure Alabama's streets are safe for all ages of users.
Homewood latest to adopt complete streets
Last month, the Homewood City Council adopted a resolution in support of complete streets, becoming the seventh Jefferson County municipality to do so. Homewood already has a track record on being more walkable. Last year, Walkscore.com ranked Homewood as the most walkable city in Alabama. This year, the city is investing nearly $1 million in more than two miles of new or repaired sidewalks.
Special thanks to Homewood City Councilor Fred Hawkins for his leadership in getting the resolution adopted.