What we don't need is more air pollution

To the editor:

For several months we have been reading, studying and going to forums and meetings trying to understand why the Dale Town Council, encouraged by Lincoln Economic Development Corporation, would consider putting another pollution producing facility in our area. They are considering the coal-to-diesel plant proposed by Greg Merle of Riverview Energy to be built in Dale.

On Wednesday, Sept. 18, IDEM issued another (of many) Air Quality Action Day. This one was for three Indiana regions: central Indiana, southeast Indiana, and southwest Indiana. IDEM encouraged everyone to help reduce ozone by: 1) walking, hiking, carpooling or using public transportation (Being in rural areas and small towns, this is almost all but impossible to get anywhere!); 2) Avoid using drive through and combine errands in one trip (This would be doable for most of us); 3) Avoid refueling your vehicle or using gasoline-powered lawn equipment until 7 p.m. (Our days are getting shorter and some people don’t get home from work until 5 or later. Lawn service people can’t just stop doing their jobs!); 4) Turn off your engine when idling for more than 30 seconds (Really?); and 5) Conserve energy by turning off lights or setting air conditioning to 75 degrees or above (This is doable for many of us).

Then the IDEM said, “Anyone sensitive to changes in air quality may be affected when ozone levels are high. Children, the elderly and anyone with heart or lung conditions should reduce or avoid exertion and heavy work outdoors.” This sounds good, but is not realistic for many with outdoor jobs.

IDEM also claims they examine weather patterns and current ozone readings to make daily forecasts. So our questions are: If IDEM really wants to help us, why do they only issue permits on a case-by-case basis when it comes to pollution-causing plants? Why are they not looking at the whole area in which they send out air quality alerts? Why are the members of Dale Town Council and Lincoln Economic Development Corporation not looking “outside the box” for other kinds of industry to provide jobs? Why can’t they look for a distribution center or a small mall that houses businesses we are lacking and need to drive many miles to find needed items?

The last article we read by Sarah Bowman (Indianapolis Star, USA Today Network) reported the “Northern Indiana Public Service Company announced it will speed up the retirement of its coal-fired generation by as much as 10 years — planning to retire the majority of its remaining plants in the next five years and the entire fleet within 10.” They will look at replacing these with renewable energy sources. If northern Indiana is looking to a clean energy future, why is southern Indiana not doing the same? Why must we sacrifice our health? Why must we have to see friends, neighbors, relatives and family members endure serious health issues such as diabetes, asthma, COPD, cancers of all kinds, children with learning disabilities linked to pollutions of air, land and water? Many of our small communities have applied for and received grants for building a healthier life for residents. But how can we be out walking, hiking and playing with alerts all too often saying stay indoors?

If anyone in our area is still unaware of or concerned about the coal-to-diesel plant in Dale, we urge you to read, study and attend meetings and forums being offered locally. Check out the website for Southern Indiana Citizens for Quality of Life and join the NoC2D group.

Together, we can and must make a difference in our lives here in Southern Indiana.

—Mary and Mike Schriefer
Santa Claus

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