The voice of the People should be better heard

Unedited article submitted to Delaware State News
Edited version published 10/21/1999

        Port Penn, DE. October 21, 1999. All over Delaware folk feel put upon by attempts to site facilities such as incinerators, asphalt plants, chicken poop processing plants, and dumps without real community participation or consent. The word "NIMBY" ("not in my backyard") is used in a derogatory way, as if people should consent to threats to their health, property values, and quality of life. In some cases, like incinerators, the facility should not be built at all, anywhere. In other cases there may be a real public need and the least troublesome arrangement has to be made. 

Several problems seem to pop up in most cases: (1) "Economic Development" officials actively seek, or at least encourage, the facilities without notifying neighbors of the proposed sites; and (2) elected officials, supposedly representing their constituents, often connive with the facility promoters but don't notify the people who elected them, (3) officials and politicians always seem to believe the "no pollution" promises of the promoters and seldom seek independent views, (4) all sorts of tax breaks, grants, and other incentives are offered in private deals without public participation, and (5) very often the sites are in low income and/or minority communities. Behind all this is the ugly reality that Delaware's political system is controlled by business interests who want "growth" and "development" at any cost.

One example of this involves the chicken poop plant proposed near Laurel. A public hearing will be held by the Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission on November 4th. Will concerned people have equal time with the promoters? Have the deals already been done? Another example involves the Philpower incinerator that would belch out as much as ten thousand pounds per day of air pollutants between Wilmington and New Castle. DNREC and other agency officials of the "Development Advisory Service" met with Philpower in January of 1998. Nobody told the people. Nobody, apparently told Philpower that that the proposed location would raise environmental justice concerns, and generate intense public opposition. (We have asked to be notified of the meetings of the "DAS," but Secretary DiPasquale says it would be "burdensome," and he doesn't want to do it.) After Philpower applied for a Coastal Zone permit, DNREC officials made clear they intended to pretend the facility wasn't an incinerator (illegal in the Coastal Zone) and give a permit. After a massive outcry by more than 35 organizations, governments, churches, etc-organized to some extent by Green Delaware--the permit was denied and Philpower has appealed.

Philpower's appeal will be heard on Thursday, October 21st, at 2 o'clock, at the Buena Vista Conference Center, on Rte 13 South of Wilmington, by the Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board. This board can overrule DNREC and grant a permit. None of the members of the Coastal Zone Board live in the threatened area, or have a strong record of concern for the environment or public health. The Chair of the Board, Christine Waisanen, formerly represented Imperial Chemical Industries and the US Chamber of Commerce. Former Gov. Russ Peterson, father of the Coastal Zone Act, asked the Del. Senate not to confirm Gov. Carper's nominees to
the Board because they all represented industrial interests. The Senate did so anyway.

The office of Atty. General Jane Brady--likely Republican candidate for Governor--will represent the state against Philpower. When queried about the case, Keith Trostle, Deputy Atty. General in charge, said: "... I am hostile to you Mr. Muller ... I don't represent you ... in my opinion you are not a party ... I don't have time for this crap ... [Green Delaware is] ... a disgrace... " Asked if he knew who had made the legal arguments against Philpower at the original hearing (Green Del. did) Trostle refused to answer. Which side is Trostle on? Which side is the AG on?

Green Delaware wants the voice of the people to be heard. Our views on the Philpower appeal are that:

     The hearing should be changed to an evening time when working people can go; 
     The public must be allowed to testify; 
     Green Delaware is a "party" to the appeal proceeding; 
     A permit for Philpower would be against Delaware law; 
     If a permit is granted, an "environmental justice" complaint will be made against the state. 

Those with opinions on this can contact the following people:

Coastal Zone Board members:

Christine Waisanen, Chair, [former chemical industry] 302.428.0305

Donald Verrico [chemical industry] 302.731.9825

Victor Singer [former aerospace industry, N. C. Cty. Planning Comm.], 302.366.8768

Daryl Minott ["economic development"], 302.577.8477

Michael Scuse [Kent County Planning Comm.], 302.653.4450

John Allen [Sussex Cty. Planning Comm.], 302.422.5187

Jefferson Reed [Pres., Delmarva Trucking Co.], 302.674.3064

George Collins [farmer, Sussex Cty. Council], 302.875.3091

J. Paul Bell [home builder, former FBI], 302.697.1545 (H) 697.0692 (W)

Jane Brady, Atty General, 302.577.8400, 302.739.4211 (Dover) (Attorney.General@State.DE.US)

Governor Carper, Office 302.577.3210, 302.739.4101 Home 302.764.7478 (Wilmington)

(c) Alan Muller 302.834.3466
October 21, 1999


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