Industry vs the rest of us

I’m going to be provocative. I’m tired. It’s early. I will be attending a city meeting tonight,  where facing up against heartless city officials is on the agenda.

There is only ONE air quality monitor on the Port of Tacoma. It measures 2.5 pm. This is a better science-based review for you.

There are at least three heavy industry companies on the port, all emitting chemicals as part of their manufacturing process. Six chemicals are measured for emissions. Benzene is not one of them. No one is measuring in real life. The auditors show up to these companies, maybe quarterly, maybe bi-annually, maybe monthly. The companies produce logs whereby their purchased chemicals are measured and accounted for using a calculation that determines whether or not they have exceeded the permit for emissions. The permits and calculations all exist independent of each other. There is no cumulative measurement of the emissions that are being produced on the port.

The City of Tacoma, the Port of Tacoma, the Economic Development Board of Pierce County all want to allow more fossil fuel companies on the port. They are claiming that this is needed in order to secure a good economic future for the city and for our children. But, the very minimal due diligence that could be undertaken to assure that our children live healthy lives is pushed to the side in the name of haste. These leaders don’t care – literally – would rather see us suffer under the toxic clouds that are coming up off the port than to stop the mass influx of fossil fuel companies on the port.

Industry is infiltrating our agencies and our communities. At a recent community meeting, a move to put air quality monitors in the neighborhood reportedly evoked anger and accusations that had no common sense attached to them. The only harm that air quality monitors in a community upwind from heavy industrial companies is harm to those companies. And yet, there were the voices – screaming at people who were asking to have some semblance of control over the health and welfare of others in the community. Because no one else is doing it in a meaningful way and certain factions in the community want to increase the levels of pollution to our air, land and water.

I wake up every morning, wondering what was emitted overnight. I wonder how much exposure I am getting to chemicals that could cause irreparable harm to my health. And I think about my neighbors – the elderly, the young, the just-getting-started in life.

Our leaders don’t care about what they are doing to our health. They fight us at every turn. They take pride in their opposition to the most basic request for a more meaningful review of new projects. They call us names. They tell us we are too radical. But every day, those companies on the port, emit chemicals that have a cumulative affect on our health. And our leaders let them get away with it. Cheerfully.

Tonight, we are asking for an expedited review of a buffer zone between our neighborhood and the port. Some city leaders have decided to put it on the sloth-track, combining it with a lengthier sub-area planning process. All so the fossil fuel projects that are queued up can breeze through with minimal effort.

community meeting

Our leaders break their covenant of trust with us every time they deny our ability to have a say in our future – every time they deny us the opportunity to speak up on behalf of our water, our land and the air. They willingly and gleefully break that covenant and expect us to be quiet.

Please don’t be quiet. Please start coming to meetings. Please write letters. Please talk to your neighbors about this. It’s not just Tacoma’s problem. It is all our problem. Please know that the support of these projects goes up to the Governor’s mansion as well.

That’s enough being provocative for right now. I need to save some for the meeting tonight.

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