Green Delaware News #31

    Bush -- It's all bad news

    Port Penn, Delaware, March 20, 2001. Anyone living on this planet must know that President Bush is no friend of the environment and public health. Texas journalist Molly Ivins, in her Bush book "Shrub," called him "a CEO's wet dream." Expect bad decisions on energy policy, population, control of toxic pollutants, land use, corporate control of media, campaign finance reform, and other key issues. In the conference rooms of DuPont, Texaco, land development companies, etc, "regulatory roll backs" are being plotted. Polluters are salivating as special-interest stooges are appointed to head government agencies. A good example is the appointment of New Jersey Governor Christine Whitman to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Whiteman spent her two terms as Governor weakening the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, once one of the most effective environmental regulatory agencies in the world. She has taken many steps to reduce public participation in government in New Jersey. Expect EPA to lose much of its remaining teeth. 

    See also:  Bush's environmental stand -- pre-election commentary

    Minner--Delaware's home-grown Bush?

    Many people don't seem to know, or want to know, that Delaware's Governor Ruth Ann Minner is likely to be a home-grown Bush. From what we can see the Minner Administration is connected at the hip (or perhaps, the wallet) to the state's most negative influences. During Minner's eight years as Lieutenant Governor she ignored all letters and requests for meetings from Green Delaware, while repeatedly fronting for Delaware Solid Waste Authority incinerator promotion scams. We have expected a Minner Administration to be even more hostile than that of former Gov. (now Senator) Tom Carper, who followed a straight "Chamber of Commerce agenda." Minner has long experience in Delaware politics and knows that token gestures suffice to tranquilize Delaware's semi-official "environmental community." In progress is a report on Minner's campaign contributions. Here's a teaser: $1000 from R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. on Nov 3, 2000. (Minner spokesperson Greg Patterson responded "Gov. Minner accepts contributions from lots and lots of folks." This is true. 

    Polluted drinking water ­- is New Castle County at it again?

    Last year Artesian Water Company was revealed to be sending some of its customers water contaminated with a cancer-causing chemical (BCEE). Investigation pointed to New Castle County as the likely cause. The County operated a landfill in the 1960 that turned into one of the worst superfund sites in the US. The County then failed to carry out the prescribed measures to keep contaminated water from leaving the site. On March 21st, at 10:00, the New Castle County "Resource Protection Area Technical Advisory Committee" will consider the following: "HDS, Inc, is seeking a determination that the Artesian-operated Fairwinds Well # 6 draws from a confined aquifer and that it is acceptable ... to reduce the 300-foot separation distance [from potential sources of pollution] to 150 feet ...." ACTION: We hardly know what to say, since the County seems to pay little attention to public input. County Executive Gordon's phone number is 302.395.5102. 

    How's Green Delaware doing? Let us know...

    Green Delaware's main product is information: We try to make is accurate and usable. Since we try to tell the truth about corporate and municipal polluters, we don¹t feel we should ignore the "environmental groups" so entrenched in Delaware. We try to be up-front about our own biases. Our email distribution is over one thousand, and we are always trying to reach new people who might be interested, so please forward our emissions as appropriate, and let us know of people and organizations who might be interested. Help us improve. Please share your thoughts on these and other questions: (1)We try to exercise restraint because many of us get too much email. This means we pass on only a fraction of the interesting stuff that comes our way. Would you like to hear more from Green Delaware, or less?; (2) We try to stick to state and regional problems, simply because there are many sources for national and international issues, and limited info for Delaware. Would you like us to report occasionally on national and global issues (such as the current US government attempts to block progress on curtailing global warming); (3) how do you feel about the quality and credibility of our information? greendel@dca.net, 302.834.3466. 

    Green Delaware web site to be upgraded­suggestions needed

    Green Delaware's website (www.greendel.org) is up for its first major rework since we launched it early in 1999. (Thanks to GreenDel webmasters Mary Cannon and Mehron Moqtaderi for all their efforts.) We would like some feedback: Do you use the site? Why or why not? It is easy to navigate? What information and/or links or features would you like to see added? 

    Death of Representative A. O. Plant.

    Long-time State Representative A. O. (Al) Plant died of a heart attack on Dec. 4, 2000. Plant was loathed by some in Delaware for telling the truth, and for being an uppity Black person. Sound familiar? He said Delaware was racist and run like a plantation. He once picketed the Wilmington News ("Stooge") Journal, which ridiculed and defamed him for decades. He also had a reputation for trying to help those who came to him, regardless of where in Delaware they lived. No angel, Plant was embroiled in a scandal at the time of his death--involving use of state "suburban street funds" for dubious purposes. He has been replaced in the House of Representatives by his widow Hazel. 

    Yet another cancer committee "Smokestack cancer in the air -- Does Governor Minner really care.....? Our people are dying; she thinks it's a pity -- Next year she'll form another committee."

    Paraphrase of Delaware Citizens for Clean Air picket signs 

    Delaware has long had among the highest cancer death rates in the United States. In some years we are #1; we are always in the top five. Green Delaware testified to the House of Representatives Health Committee on the setting up of yet another cancer investigation, the umpteenth since1949. Perhaps 6 reports on Delaware's cancer problem have been published by state-controlled bodies in the last ten years. Our cancer death rate remains high, with no real change in sight. Why? The interests controlling all these "studies" are (1) the "cancer industry." made up of medical care providers, drug companies, and non-profits like the American Cancer Society, all living off cancer, and (2) the petro-chemical industry, which seeks to minimize the contributions of its emissions and its products. As long as these special interests write the reports, they will "blame the victim," attributing our cancer problem on self-inflicted factors such as diet and smoking, while minimizing environmental factors. They will seek more funding for themselves. We told the committee that if it wanted different and more useful recommendations it should set up a different sort of group. "Garbage in, garbage out." Those opposing our comments included Reps. John Viola and Arthur Scott, and Gov. Minner's lawyer Matt Denn. Scott represents a particularly polluted and unhealthy district. Green Delaware has been proposing a phase-out of cancer-causing substances in Delaware (see Alert # 60). ACTION: Contact your Representative and Senator and tell them you want a phase-out of carcinogens and other pollutants in Delaware. 

    Delaware River dredging still on -­ yard signs available

    Many people think this project is dead because Delaware's congressional delegation "came out against it." Wrong. Roth (now replaced by Carper), Biden, and Castle DID NOT say they opposed the dredging project, they just said they wanted the US Army Corp of Engineers to apply for and receive permits from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). A "Subaqueous Lands" permit has been applied for and we expect DNREC to issue it in good time. A "public workshop," paid for and manipulated by the Corps, will be announced soon. Sometime after that DNREC will hold a formal "public hearing." The dredging could still be derailed by sufficient public opposition, or a redo of the bogus cost-benefit analysis. The Corp is taking heat for it's habit of cooking the books to make projects look more cost-effective than they are. Gov. Minner's office said she is aware that the corp's numbers have been "called into question on other projects," but "has not come to a decision" on calling for a new cost-benefit analysis of the Delaware River dredging. ACTION: Help her decide: Call or email Gov. Minner (302.577.3210, 302.739.4101 gminner@state.de.us) and ask her to oppose the dredging project and withdraw all Delaware funding for this project pending a new cost-benefit analysis that stands up to independent scrutiny. Send the same message to the General Assembly (email addresses available at www.greendel.org). A limited number of high-quality "Stop the Dredging" yard signs are available. Contact us if you would like one. 

    Deals with polluters behind our backs ...

    On December 21, 2000, DNREC signed an 18 page "settlement agreement" with Metachem (ex Standard Chlorine). Metachem is a troubled chemical plant near Delaware City that has been accused of contaminating the US food supply with dioxin by selling contaminated chemicals that were used to make "crop protection chemicals" sprayed on food crops. The facility has a long history of spills, leaks, and violations. The agreement says "the Department will waive any right ... to enforce ... civil penalties ... for any violations known ..as of the date of the order." It also prescribes some audit and cleanup activities. We have met with Metachem's top management, who say they are making a clean break with the problems of the past. We'll have more on this. 

    In deep secrecy, the US Environmental Protection Agency, DNREC, and Motiva have been negotiating an agreement (part of a "national" settlement) that will call for changes at the Motiva refinery near Delaware City, and probably give "amnesty" for past environmental crimes. (In several ways this is the dirtiest refinery of the 100-plus in the United States, emitting about 400,000 thousand pounds per day of health-damaging air pollutants.) This agreement may be released next week. 

    Regardless of their merits, these two agreements, like others of their sort, have this in common: absolutely no public input or participation. Like most important decisions bearing on access to a clean and healthy air and water, these deals are done behind closed doors between lawyers for polluters, and lawyers for regulatory agencies reporting to polluter-influenced officeholders such as Bush and Minner. DNREC Secretary Nick DiPasquale did not respond to repeated phone calls. 

    Peddling credit card debt to students...

    Green Delaware member Rachel White, a senior at the University of Delaware, started a campaign to ban the peddling of credit cards on her campus. Aggressive marketing of credit cards to students entraps many in debt. It also, as Green Delaware Steering Committee member Anna White noted, "is part of the broader environmental problem involved in the promotion of the 'buy now, pay later' mentality, spending beyond one's means in both a literal and ecological sense..." State Sen. David McBride responded with Senate Bill 59. "Synopsis: This Act prohibits credit card institutions and other persons from soliciting credit cards or similar loan products on the campuses of educational institutions in Delaware that receive all or part of their operating budgets from State appropriations." Both the University of Delaware and the Delaware General Assembly often act like wholly-owned subsidiaries of MBNA and other credit card banks. This bill should be an interesting test of the ability of both institutions to rise above the level of their pocketbooks. So far the University of Delaware administration has not responded to calls from Green Delaware. ACTION: ask your state legislator to support SB 59. 

    Tom Colgan to be honored by House of Representatives

    Colgan, a resident of Arden and key Green Delaware leader, is to be honored by the Delaware House of Representatives at 2:00 on March 21st. Colgan has been active for decades in recreation (rowing, boat building), prison reform, housing integration and other racial justice concerns, environmental cleanup, and too many other issues to list. One of his most remarkable recent victories involved the cleanup of the Davis Oil Company in West Chester, PA. This badly-run company was polluting low-income minority communities in West Chester, the county seat of Chester County. Initially brushed off by state and county officials, Colgan and his colleagues picketed the courthouse and distributed handouts for over a year. Their persistence paid off when Davis Oil was closed down and fined close to one million dollars. The resolution reads: "Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the 141st General Assembly that our heartfelt thanks be extended to Thomas E. Colgan for his lifetime contribution to the social, cultural, environmental and recreational fabric of Delaware." Amen. 

    Upcoming Events

    New Jersey Environmental Federation Annual Conference

    Saturday, March 24st, Princeton, NJ. (The NJEF has been a very good friend to Green Delaware.) Info: http://www.cleanwateraction.org/njef/events.htm

    Interesting TV show

    Bill Moyers' documentary, Trade Secrets, will air Monday night, March 26th, on public broadcasting stations across the country (supposedly including WHYY-12). According to PBS, Trade Secrets correspondent Bill Moyers and producer Sherry Jones report on how the chemical revolution of the past 50 years has produced thousands of manmade chemicals that have not been tested for their effect on the public's health and safety. PBS promotional materials indicate that the report is based on internal chemical industry documents that have never been published and on interviews with historians, scientists and physicians who are exploring how chemicals affect the body. Info: www.comeclean.org

    Wilmington River-City Committee Citizen Summit IV

    Saturday, April 21st, Wilmington DE. Keynote speaker: William Boyer, author of "Governing Delaware." (Boyer is former Chair of the Dept. of Political Science at the University of Delaware. We have know him since 1969. In spite of his ties to our least favorite university, Boyer "tells it like it is." Highly recommended.) For more info about the Summit: 302.655.1181, wilmrvrcity@dca.net

    Next week: update on the "no flush" campaign to clean up the Wilmington sewers; more on polluted water in Delaware; Rehoboth does something right, "Developing Delaware to death," more...


Let us know what you think.

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

This page was last updated on March 25, 2001.



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