Green Delaware News #25

University of Delaware backs down 

Port Penn, DE. December 16, 1998. The end of 1998 approaches. This is always a good time to reflect on what we have done and what we should work on in the future. On the plus side we can point to two great successes in blocking the construction of garbage incinerators in Delaware and in Pennsville, NJ. Green Delaware members and the many people from other organizations who worked on this can take pride: the health and well being of thousands of people were protected.

The list of challenges is far longer, we'll be writing about some of these in more detail over the next few weeks. To mention a few: Worsening Delaware media blackouts of Green Delaware and other independent organizations; schemes to build incinerators to burn wood waste and chicken manure; plans by Motiva refinery (Shell, Texaco, and Saudi-Aramco) to dump 140 thousand tons of waste into disadvantaged communities near Wilmington; continued burning of Delaware garbage in the very oppressed city of Chester, PA; plans for deepening the Delaware River; threats of many sorts from the very dangerous Salem nuclear plants; continued dumping of raw sewage by the City of Wilmington; lack of recycling in Delaware; and runaway sprawl development throughout Delaware. Green Delaware can't hope to influence all these concerns; organizations must FOCUS limited resources effectively if they are to accomplish much. Green Delaware will continue to focus on the Wilmington sewage crisis, and will be involved in recycling, incineration, and Salem nuke concerns. We'll fight the proposed dumping by Motiva. We hope to find ways to speak out effectively about the need to curtain "development" and seek sustainable prosperity for the region.

University of Delaware admits error, drops charges

The Univ. of Del. wrote us an inadequate letter of apology ten days after arresting Green Delaware coordinator Alan Muller on October 31st. (The "crime:" opposing sewage dumping by the City of Wilmington, DE). After the arrest we asked our friends and supporters to contact the University. Thanks to the many who did so. This undoubtedly caused the University to back down. We got some support from the American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware. Special thanks to Susan Regis Collins, Chair of the Wilmington. River-City Committee, who wrote to David Roselle, President of the University of Delaware: "shame on a university that casts long, dark shadows on our basic rights as Americans." Special thanks also to long-time activist Victor Sadot, and to the many others who wrote, faxed, or emailed Roselle. No other organizations in Delaware offered any public support. (It's possible, of course, that things were said behind the scenes.) The Sierra Club was silent. Audubon was silent. The League of Women Voters was silent. Common Cause was silent. And so on. Hey folks, how about following our example and showing a bit of backbone? We are considering further legal action against the University.

LOBOTOMEDIA -- blackout per usual:  The Gannett "Stooge Journal" blacked out the arrest-two reporters called for info, but presumably were not allowed to write about it--, as did WDEL and WILM, the two main news radio outlets in Northern Delaware. National Public Radio station WHYY (Philadelphia), and WHYY-TV (Channel 12, Wilmington) were silent. On the other hand, reporter Bruce Schimmel of National Public Radio station WSCL in Salisbury MD produced a sensitive story.

The campus of the brown nose??  The editors of the student run newspaper at the University of Delaware declined to print the following letter:
November 30, 1998

Letter to the Editor

The University of Delaware Review

On October 31, 1998, a Green Delaware member was arrested by Univ. of Del. Police for "criminal trespass" in front of the football stadium. This person was singled out by University police from a crowd of politicians doing the same thing. (Green Delaware was giving out information about the dumping of raw sewage into rivers by the City of Wilmington. The pols were giving out info about why they should be elected or re-elected.)

On November 10th, after receiving many letters and emails protesting this disregard for civil liberties, President David Roselle wrote us saying. "The University will suggest to the Newark police that the charges against you be dropped. ...you are correct in observing that other individuals were using the same forum for public expression, and you should not be prosecuted for doing essentially what others were permitted to do. . . . We have instructed our security personnel to remove or arrest only those who are. . .behaving in a way that threatens to interfere with the rights of others. . .."

OK. This can be seen as a significant victory for free speech on campus. Lets consider how on-campus organizations reacted: The Review declined to report this event at all, offering several absurd excuses. For instance, editor Eric J. S. Townsend said he was worried about "libeling" the university. We go back a long time with the Review, which has often covered our issues. (One of our Steering Committee members was editor of the Review in 1938.) Wondering what was wrong, we called Professor Harris Ross, who is some sort of faculty advisor to the Review, to ask about the relationship between the Review and the teaching of journalism at the Univ. of Del. Openly hostile, Ross said in effect that we had no business looking into these things, and that the appropriate response was a letter to the editor. (Here it is, but we wonder if the Review has the integrity to run it, since an earlier letter--about the Review covering up another scandal on campus--was not run.) 

On November 17th, Executive Editor Ryan Cormier wrote-in another context--"Newspapers do not hide news, they report it. . .Our job is to show you what is happening in your community. It is your job to decide what you think about it and then to take actions as you see fit." Just so. On the other hand, Delaware is controlled by some of the world's worst polluter corporations, and blacking out effective grassroots organizations is a long tradition-not necessarily invented by the Review. So is hypocrisy and academic prostitution.

So much for the Review. What about the student American Civil Liberties Union group? Katie Lewis, president, did not respond to an Email and a phone call seeking assistance. We got the impression that Jeff Rafal, ACLU faculty advisor, had encouraged her not to respond. 

What about "Students for the Environment?" This group declined even to spread the word to its members. Becky Crooker, "S4E" president and "Environmental Science" major, didn't respond to a question about whether her group had any concerns about environmentalists being arrested on her campus. Sad. In the recent past, a U. of Del. Student Environmental Action Coalition worked successfully with Green Delaware to get garbage incineration banned in Delaware's Coastal Zone.

So, the student-run paper, the student ACLU, and the "Students for the Environment" all helped cover up violations of constitutional rights on their campus. Green Delaware was left to fight and win this battle alone. A closing thought: Do students at the University of Delaware want to be at an institution of "higher learning" or a vegetable garden?

Alan Muller

Coordinator, Green Delaware

Apparently these young "journalists" are already fully qualified to be editors at the Stooge Journal. Send any thoughts to Ryan Cormier, Executive Editor of the Review: RCORMIER@UDEL.EDU

Environmental racism in Delaware,
from Texaco, Shell, and Saudi-Aramco

Motiva refinery is Delaware's worst environmental offender, putting out about 450 thousand pounds per day of health-threatening air pollutants, and having a permit to dump 38 thousand pounds per day of oil and grease into the Delaware River. Motiva has received more than three hundred million dollars of tax exempt "revenue bonds" to build a new power plant, now under construction. Now, a Motiva contractor wants to pile 140 thousand tons of hazardous "petroleum coke" waste near a cluster of low income, mostly African-American communities just South of Wilmington Delaware. The "pet coke" is a fine, abrasive, wind-blown powder containing cancer-causing materials such as nickel and "PAHs." Shell and Texaco are among the world's most notorious practitioners of "environmental racism." Green Delaware opposed this project at a recent public hearing, has discussed possible alternatives with Motiva officials, and has visited the refinery to see how coke is handled on-site. (We were received courteously.)

Stand by for a "Green Delaware Alert" with more information. This, we think, must be stopped.

Look for upcoming Green Delaware News. (C) Alan Muller

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Alan J. Muller, Coordinator
P.O. Box 69
Port Penn, DE 19731
302-834-3466 Voice
302-836-3005 FAX

This page was last updated on March 28, 1999.