Nature To Be Respected, Not Conquered
Several years ago, when the gray wolves were bordering on extinction, I saw a Victorian painting of a winter's night which depicted a small child and her father in a horse-drawn sled racing frantically through the woods, pursued by a pack of ravenous wolves. It is images like these that teach that the natural world is threatening and must be conquered.
Many of the wealthiest businesses in history, including the oil companies, have used this idea of conquering nature to build their empires—without concern for the long-term consequences of "conquering" and contaminating large areas of land, ocean, air and forests.
Now that we live in a time of dwindling resources, we can see all around us the results of this business philosophy.
There is strontium 90 in the flesh and bones of fish caught near the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. Whether the contamination comes from the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, as company officials have claimed, rather than from Vermont Yankee, is of little comfort. The saying that we all live downstream is as true now as it was during the advent of nuclear power in this country, as we see radiation from the current nuclear disaster in Japan arrive on our doorstep in San Francisco and Seattle and as monitors are installed across the country—including in Vermont—to track the radioactive contamination.
At some point elected officials have to decide whether protecting the environment—the source of healthy life on the planet—will ever trump the interests of companies that exploit it.
News of the Weird Insensitive
News of the Weird is mostly fun to read, so I was disappointed and surprised that you chose to print a piece that ridicules transgender people. It was in poor taste at best and harmful at worst (March 24, 2011: the Czech story under Genetic Legacies).
In the story, the transgender partners and the child of one of them are all presented as freaks as you note their family reunion was "joyous but confusing."
Suicide ideation is over 30 percent for transgender people. They are routinely beaten up and killed for daring to express themselves openly. Many transgender people lose families and cannot find work. They are often denied equal access to health care.
It is irresponsible for the media to fan the flames of transphobia, especially a paper with a reputation for progressive politics. Please think carefully next time.
Director, SAGE Western Massachusetts
(Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders)
Biomass Plant Not Wanted in Greenfield...
I feel compelled to thank Matt Wolfe of Madera Energy for working so hard to bring biomass to us here in Western Massachusetts whether we want it or not. Here in Greenfield, biomass has been soundly rejected by 85 percent of the voters.
Originally Wolfe talked about convincing the voters how great biomass would be for us. It is great to see that in actuality he doesn't give a rat's tahootie what we who will have to live with the plant think about it. If he gets his way, I think the only thing we could do to truly express our gratitude would be to build one next to his house.
We thoughtless, unappreciative peon biomass opponents ought to be ashamed. All we think about is (the already poor) air quality (not to mention deforestation) and all the trucks increasing traffic congestion in town instead of the huge profits Madera Energy could be making.
So thank you, Matt Wolfe, for doing everything in your power to cram this down our throats, and we know why. Maybe we can take up a collection for you and you can keep your plant out of our town.
Frank Lee Madaswel
...or in Springfield
Mayor Sarno misspeaks when he talks about the "stringent federal, state and local environmental, health and safety requirements" the [Palmer Renewable Energy wood-fired power plant proposed for Springfield; "A New Tack in the Biomass Battle," March 24, 2011] will have to meet to gain his permanent approval. If these regulations were truly stringent and prioritized public health, this plant wouldn't have a prayer.
Just one example: Current DEP regulations allow fine particulate matter (FPM) in concentrations of up to 35 micrograms per cubic meter. But the state Department of Environmental Protection, in its own comment to the state when PRE switched from construction and demolition debris to wood, admits it would prefer the [federal] Environmental Protection Agency's recommendation of 30. (Thanks to political pressure on the EPA, turning these recommendations into regulation is on hold.)
The World Health Organization recommends FPM no higher than 25. And the European Commission is aiming for 20.
PRE's plant, added to the existing background levels, would bring FPM to 29.9. What real difference between 29.9 and 30.0 is there? Public health operates on a spectrum, not a series of quantum leaps.
I could go on and on about the health impacts—but I won't. Let me just say that, although there may be a few people left in Springfield who don't know about this threat to our health or who have no opinion, the only people I've met in this two-year struggle who support PRE are those who will benefit financially—be it the developers (who really make out big), the mayor, with his eye on the city's tax base, or the union members looking for work and kidding themselves this plant will do no harm. As for the rest of us, the more we know, the more opposed we become.
Arise for Social Justice
The results of the newest National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) were released two weeks ago, the 2005 data ( http//:www.epa.gov/region01/eco/airtox/greatest.html).
The results are not good for the New England states.
The state average risk values of five air toxics exceeded the health benchmarks in every state in New England. Five other toxins were above the health benchmark in at least one state in New England. If you go to the Environmental Protection Agency website and look at the maps where these pollutants are highest, it is scary. The Pioneer Valley and Springfield are front and center for high cancer rates due to these pollutants.
We need everyone's help to stop this incinerator, to protect our health, our children, our grandchildren and their children. Step up and be heard.