Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Merchant Coal & LS Power in the News

Check out a recent article in the online environmental news magazine Grist that tells a little more about merchant coal and the powerful interests behind it.

Monday, August 28, 2006

A Done Deal? Not yet...

By Kamyar Enshayan

A “Done Deal” vs. Democracy

On May 11th, a meeting was held in Waterloo regarding the proposed coal burning power plant. It was staged by the company and was attended by more than 500 people, most of whom had serious concerns about such a plant.

In the TV news account of that meeting, the news staff explained what happened at the meeting and that many questions remained unanswered. At the very end of the story, in a slip of the tongue, he said, “But it is pretty much a done deal.”

Several people wrote in and reminded that it was not a done deal at all. In fact, the company had not even filed for any permit application yet! Since then, people have asked me, “But, really, don’t you think it is a done deal?”

I would say, yes, if we lived in Afghanistan, North Korea, or China where everything is decided for you. But we are here. And here, we say we value democracy and fair decision processes that are open to citizen participation.

As it turns out, whether here or in Iran, powerful entities with greed do not like democracy, they do not want a messy participatory process that involves citizens. They do not want it in the news. They want it behind closed doors, their way. Clean and swift. There is a deeply-held, ancient anti-democratic instinct at work here.

Yes, the representatives from the absentee company that wants to build a coal burning power plant in Black Hawk county have already met with the City of Waterloo and Black Hawk County officials behind closed doors. But have the County officials and or Waterloo City officials met with the public at the early stages to explain what they are working on, why they seemed so sold on the idea, and to encourage citizen participation? Sadly, the answer is no.

For most large projects, whether a dirty coal power plant in Black Hawk County, a monster dam in China, yet another un-needed gigantic mall in Ames, or another highway through a community, a major strategy is to make it appear that it is a “done deal.” That way, citizens who otherwise would be motivated to participate will feel discouraged early on and give up getting involved altogether.

There is nothing that’s a “done deal.” None. Even the very democratic processes we seem to hold so dear as the foundation of our country can be undone and are being undone on a daily basis, nationally and locally. Most people think that democracy is something we did or got sometime ago, like July 4, 1776. Something that we secured back then and can enjoy forever. False.

As it turns out, democracy is a highly perishable thing. It needs to be nurtured very carefully. Democracy is not something we have, but something we make and remake daily. There is no way around it. As soon you relax, the entities who profit from weakening it will be at it.

Ultimately, the only lasting solution is citizens who are informed and engaged. It is up to us to root out these “done deals” and to demand open decision processes. The future of our neighborhoods, towns and the nation will depend it.

Kamyar Enshayan can be reached at Enshayan@yahoo.com.

Monday, August 14, 2006

LS Power Responds

LS Power Responds!

To read the response and our replies, click here

The Clean Air for Waterloo campaign obtained an email with responses to statements on our website from Mr. Milburn of LS Power. We have replied to those comments and posted the comments and our replies on our website (http://cleanairwaterloo.com).

This exchange, and indications from the Iowa Utilities Board that a local zoning process IS necessary for the project to proceed, have made it abundantly clear why an immediate public hearing for citizen participation is necessary. More than 3,500 Cedar Valley residents have petitioned against this plant. It is time for City and County officials to discuss the local process.

Call Mr. Hurley, the Mayor of Waterloo, at 319-291-4301 and ask him to hold a public hearing on the LS Power project and local process immediately.

Also, come to a meeting on Wednesday, August 16th at 7 pm in the Dewar Community Center (Dewar, IA) to discuss public participation in the approval process (see post below).

Friday, August 11, 2006

Meeting Announcement!

Also check out our new website at http://cleanairwaterloo.com

Organization Created to Promote New Energy System

Who: Community Energy Solutions
What: Meeting and Action Discussion
Where: Dewar Community Center in Dewar, IA
When: Wednesday, August 16th, 2006 at 7:00 PM

When Don and Linda Shatzer first learned that there was a coal-fired power plant proposed less than a mile from their house, they thought it sounded like a good thing.

“When we first read of the $1.3 billion dollar proposed coal-fired power plant, we thought "wow" what an investment for Black Hawk County,” said Linda Shatzer. “We realized that we knew very little about coal-fired plants, and since this proposed plant would be within a mile of our home, decided we needed to educate ourselves on its impact. We found that the benefits were few and only monetary, while the hazards and health effects were numerous.”

“Calling this a safe plant because it will be cleaner is like calling a cigarette safe after adding a filter,” said Don Shatzer. “It will still emit thousands of pounds of pollutants, which contribute to increased rates of asthma and autism, into our air and water every year. We must address our energy needs with 21st century technology, like energy efficiency, wind, and biomass, not 19th century technology with a filter added.”

The Shatzer’s experience has been echoed by thousands of Cedar Valley residents in the past few months. They’ve done their research and concluded that our continued over-dependence on coal as an energy source isn’t an answer for the 21st century. Faced with the prospect that their future could be determined by out-of-state coal interests, and armed with the knowledge that clean and cost-effective energy solutions were available, these citizens decided to act. They formed an organization to educate the public about energy issues and promote the use of our technology and economic resources for a healthy, reliable energy system, not further dependence on coal. Community Energy Solutions was born.

“We’ll be promoting a new energy system built around increased efficiency and clean, renewable sources,” said Gail Mueller, President of Community Energy Solutions. “It’s time to stop the downward spiral of environmental, health, and social problems caused by further dependence on coal, and it’s time for public officials to open a democratic discussion on the LS Power project. We’re holding our first public meeting in Dewar so people can actually see where the proposed LS Power plant will be built and how close it is to all of us.”

On Wednesday, August 16th at 7:00 PM in the Dewar Community Center, citizens can participate in a discussion about the direction and action of Community Energy Solutions. They can also find more information via email, communityenergysolutions@gmail.com or via the website, http://cleanairwaterloo.com.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Website Launch!

Please check out our new website at: http://cleanairwaterloo.com.

We welcome feedback at cleanairwaterloo@gmail.com regarding the site as it continues to develop. Thank you very much!