Why carbon pollution is a B.F.D.

Over the weekend The New Republic posted an article, “Obama’s New Rules are a B.F.D. The Ensuing Political Fight May Be Even Bigger” about carbon pollution rules (Greenhouse Gas or GHG) the Environmental Protection Agency will release On June 2 next week. These rules will be directed toward existing sources of carbon pollution, the majority of which are coal-fired power plants.

Recognizing and acting on carbon pollution has been a long time coming in the United States. We’re the last car on the train of developed countries acknowledging and acting upon the mounds of scientific and economic data pointing to the damage that has been done, and continues to grow, by unfettered coal fueled carbon pollution.

There’s another story to tell about coal plants, but it isn’t be told often enough, or loudly enough. Why?

Coal plants aren’t found in gated communities, middle class neighborhoods, or private schools campuses. Coal plants aren’t problems for elected officials or businesses unless the issue is air quality or water resources, or until those who bear the weight of coal show up at government or shareholder meetings demanding action. Coal plants are stashed away in communities of color, low income, low education levels, poor health status, and rural America.

Facing South said this about who we are:

  • Number of Americans who live within three miles of a coal-fired power plant, which coal-plants-wastetypically stores toxic coal ash waste in unlined pits that aren’t currently subject to federal oversight: 6 million
  • Their average per capita income: $18,400, average per capita income for U.S. residents overall: $21,587
  • Percent of people living within three miles of a coal plant who are people of color: 39
  • Number of the nation’s 378 coal-fired power plants that received an “F” in a 2012 report because they’re responsible for a disproportionate amount of pollution in low-income and minority communities: 75
  • Average per capita income of the 4 million people who live within three miles of those failing coal plants: $17,500, percent who are people of color: 53
  • Average per-capita income of people living within three miles of Duke Energy’s Dan
    photo from Catawba Riverkeeper
    photo from Catawba Riverkeeper

    Plant near Eden, N.C., where a Feb. 2 coal ash spill has contaminated the waterway  for 80 miles downstream: $15,772

  • Percent of the residents of Danville, Va., a community downstream of the spill that draws its drinking water from the Dan, who are people of color: 53.3
  • Risk of cancer for people living within a mile of unlined coal ash pits: 1 in 50
  • Number of times that exceeds what the Environmental Protection Agency considers an acceptable risk: 2,000
  • Number of times more likely it is for someone living near a coal ash pit to develop cancer than someone who smokes a pack of cigarettes per day: 9

Coal plant communities didn’t choose to be the dumping ground for America’s dirtiest energy source.

The renewable energy revolution and putting the brakes on climate change won’t be led by industry and government alone.

We’ve had enough. And we’re making it a B.F.D.




Among good friends and family

What I might write here about Moral Monday 12 on July 22 won’t add anything better than what has been captured in the photos and two videos below.

My nephews Dillon and Andrew are on the left, my friend Sarah Chew is behind the sign on the right. Photo credit to Armed Democrats for the man in the middle of this collage.

My nephews Dillon and Andrew are on the left, my friend Sarah Chew is behind the sign on the right. Photo credit to Armed Democrats for the man in the middle of this collage.
Mary Helms from News 14 Carolina coverage
Mary Helms from News 14 Carolina coverage

My sister Mary Helms on News 14 Carolina:

Amy Axon from NAACP video, July 22, 2013
Amy Axon from NAACP video, July 22, 2013

The NAACP’s video includes my Guilford College classmate Amy Evans Axon at 5:40

Commissioner refuses to attend Commissioners’ meetings

Elected officials who are good at being in engaged with their constituents give up a lot of time to serve their community. On the local level in Washington County, they don’t get much money as an elected official, so there must be other factors motivating them.

Yesterday Benjamin Dotson, the county leader of the NAACP, made another respectful but powerful request that the Washington County Commission meetings be held early in the evening so that more working citizens can attend. The monthly meetings have been held at 9:00 a.m. on the second Thursday of each month “forever.”

Dotson’s request wasn’t new. That same request has been made by citizens over the course of several years, but it fell on deaf ears.

Larry Mathis 2010 WLarry Mathis, who is serving his first term as a Commissioner, once told a room full of citizens that if their concerns were really important to them, they would find a way to be there. People said they can’t afford to clock out at work and asked why they should take a day of vacation or expect a smaller paycheck because they needed, or wanted, to attend a Commissioners meeting.

Yesterday Mathis softened his stance and agreed with three other commissioners to try evening meetings.

This time it was Commissioner Melton Jones, who stunned the small group attending the Melton T Jones 2006 Wmeeting yesterday. Jones said point blank, and repeated himself, that he would not attend any Commissioners meetings due to his family and work schedule. Period. He followed up by being the only one to vote against granting a long-standing request from a broad range of citizens over several years.

So now the ball is in the public’s court. The meeting dates and times will be advertised in the local papers and on radio stations.

If citizens don’t show up we give the Commissioners our approval to meet at a time that is convenient to them, which looks like 9:00 a.m. on the second Thursday of each month.

Which would suit Commissioner Jones just fine.

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