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Friday, 06 May 2011


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Michael Noll

Because it would be monitored?

Our community could subsequently also "monitor" increases in respiratory illnesses, cancer rates, cardiovascular diseases, and mortality rates. Just ask the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society, and the American Heart Association.

This is incredible. A city council member who still hides behind an EPD air permit, and who chooses to ignore the testimony of thousands of medical professionals throughout the United States. At the same time, we have a City Council that continues to isolate itself from its citizens with a policy that undermines open dialogue.

The continued silence of our City Council and Mayor in regard to biomass is mind-boggling. Haven’t they noticed the developments of the past couple months? The regular protests? Hundreds and hundreds of signatures and voices in opposition to biomass? Ashley Paulk’s statement? George Bennett’s statement? Even a statement, it appears, by Wesley Langdale who said that biomass is economically not feasible ... which is something WACE stated as far back as October 2010, supported by an article from the Wall Street journal called “(Bio)Mass Confusion”.

Dr. Mark George once asked all City Council members the following question: “What is it you still need from us, so that you understand that biomass is a bad deal”? To my knowledge that question was never answered.

Last night I shared a letter from a local physician with the City Council and our Mayor. We already received this letter in January, yet decided not share it due to the intense political pressures at the time, to protect the individual from possible repercussions. It is time, though, that our community gets to know another courageous voice:

“I am opposed to the construction of the proposed Biomass plant in Lowndes County. The plant has many potential health concerns. This plant would release chemicals and particles into the air that would affect the respiratory health for the citizens in our community. Those most affected would be our children, the elderly and those suffering from lung disease, such as emphysema and asthma.

The long term health effects could be substantial: increased asthma attacks, cardiovascular harm and shortened life expectancy. This would result in increased physician and emergency room visits, adding to the burden of the already substantial health care costs in our state.”

Craig Bishop, D.O. (January 17, 2011)

Leigh Touchton

Two weeks ago I delivered the official NAACP letter to all City Council members (and Mayor Fretti) asking for a written response as to their position on biomass and selling reclaimed water to the Wiregrass, LLC, proposed incinerator.

No response. Not one.

I have heard that at least two Council members refuse to do so because "it might be used against them."

Citizens are entitled to hear where their elected officials stand on these issues. At least Councilmen Vickers, Wright, and Yost have stated publicly that they support biomass, even though black infants are already dying in Valdosta at a rate twice as high as white infants. According to Mr. Wright, he simply doesn't believe the health risks associated with biomass combustion.

According to Mr. Yost, whose daughter has asthma and participates in outdoor sports, the health risks documented by American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association are not credible, nor are the other medical publications in Pediatrics journals that WACE gave to him. Mr. Yost works for the Special Olympics? If I were the parents whose children he makes decisions about, I would be down there asking some tough questions, like since when does he put the needs of business to make a profit over the needs of children to breathe clean air?

Hasn't it occurred to him that his daughter's asthma will be exacerbated if this biomass incinerator gets built? Doesn't he know that ASTHMA KILLS? As I've stated repeatedly, the death rate due to asthma in the black community is 2-3 times higher than in the white community. Since the Southside Community is already designated an Environmental Justice community by the EPA, siting another incinerator nearby is going to increase the mortality and morbidity rates for this segment of our population, but also for others in Valdosta, LIKE MR. YOST'S DAUGHTER.

If I still lived in Yost's district I would run against him. He called me up 8 years ago and asked for my support when I dropped out of the City Council race (I had just learned that I was pregnant with my dear daughter) and I gave him my support then. There is no way I would ever recommend this politician to anyone in Valdosta, he obviously cannot think rationally. As a mother, I am literally sickened to see these men behave the way they are behaving. Shame on all of them. I hope the voters rise up.


From his City Council bio:
Councilman Robert Yost is a 30-year resident of Valdosta and a 1982 graduate of Valdosta State University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Education. Councilman Yost also received a Master's degree in Education in 1986 from Valdosta State University. He has been employed by Special Olympics Georgia as Vice President of Programs for 22 years. Councilman Yost is married to the former Lynn Ledbetter of St. Simons Island, who is Director of Children's Ministries at Park Avenue United Methodist Church. He and his wife have three daughters and are members of Park Avenue United Methodist Church. Councilman Yost currently serves on the Valdosta/Lowndes County Parks and Recreation Authority and the Georgia Municipal Association Natural Resources and Environmental Committee. He was first elected to the City Council in 2001 and his current term ends in 2013.

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