According to the scientific secretary for the European Committee on Radiation Risks (ECRR), when senior employee of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission the late Professor John Goffman resigned from his post, he said, “The nuclear industry is waging a war against humanity.”
Pediatrician Helen Caldicott, one of the world’s most important authorities on the health effects of ionizing radiation and the world’s leading spokesperson for the antinuclear movement, would agree. Caldicott is also the cofounder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize and the 2003 winner of the Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize. She recently established the Nuclear Policy Research Institute.
The streets of Bloomington swelled on Oct. 15, 2011, with Occupy Bloomington protesters who demanded a cultural revolution that rewards humanity and justice over avarice and sociopathy. The march began at People's Park and proceeded to the Farmer's Market and back to the park, with stops at Chase bank, the Monroe County Jail and the Farmer's Market.
As motorists, downtown shoppers and market-goers honked, smiled and otherwise demonstrated support, the marchers chanted "We are the 99 percent; you are the 99 percent," "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out," and "This is what democracy looks like."
Passionate community members and students will gather at People's Park on Kirkwood Avenue at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 9, to begin an occupation of the park in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement and the Occupy Together movement as a whole. Those in attendance will set up camping equipment to use the park as a hub to plan other events and actions around the Bloomington community to empower and raise awareness.
The Occupy Bloomington movement has drawn people of all ages, creeds, races, beliefs and political standings. Through group consensus the movement has agreed on a location and time to begin the event. Any interested community members are invited to come share ideas, passions and thoughts on where to take the movement.
While brainstorming with editors at NUVO for the Sept. 28 cover story on the Newport prairie controversy, I told them I love covering small-town power struggles because public officials inevitably shoot from the hip. They seldom display the political savvy of, say, a deputy director at a major state agency. By the time I had finished my reporting, the point was proven, in spades. Ditto the argument that citizen input into our democratic process has become little more than a sham.
Jack Fenoglio, for example, is president of the Newport Chemical Depot Reuse Authority and a lifelong member of the Izaak Walton League, a conservation group whose National Director Clara Walters lives in Clinton. She has organized national support for preserving a 336-acre black-soil prairie restoration on the Newport site. When I asked Fenoglio to square his opposition to the preservation with that of the organization, he minced no words.
"The prairie issue really started with one man who kind of led the project when he was working for Mason and Hanger," the retired metallurgical engineer said. "And he has got everybody else on the bandwagon to one degree more or less. But I think a lot of the rank and file members of all these organizations that he has brought to the table probably wouldn't recognize prairie grass if they saw it."
Leaving Washington after 10 days in front of the White House, I ride the train through hills and mountains – Maryland, West Virginia? I look out on trees, rocks, river: wide river, shallow with rocks, winding, here and there a small island; now an old stone building, a wide field, a farm; now trees again, roads, farms. “Beautiful,” I think. There's a bit of mist, now turned to rain streaming down the windows. Across the aisle a baby is entertained by his mother.
This is what it is about – that life should continue. Perhaps I should say, life as we now know it. The teaching says, “Accept what is offered,” but I am not yet able to accept the end of human life, the end of trees, of rain, of deer. I am worried at the loss of insects. Suddenly I remember, driving a car in the summer 10, 20 years ago meant a windshield splattered with insects, frequent scrubbing and cleaning of their dead bodies – and this is no longer true; the insects are nearly gone. What else is lost, will be lost every day in this great extinction? How can I come to terms with it?
West-central Indiana business and government officials made no mystery of their plans for the Newport Chemical Depot (NECD) from almost the moment they learned it truly would be theirs. In the summer of 2008, as the U.S. Army finished eliminating the 1,269 tons of VX nerve agent that had been manufactured and stored there for a half century, the locals declared their priorities in a Terre Haute Tribune-Star article.
“The thing that is the immediate impact is the job loss,” Ed Cole, director of the Economic Development Council of Vermillion County and point person for the Vermillion Chemical Depot Local Reuse Authority (LRA), told the newspaper in July that year. "It is just going to be a tremendously bad hit for us."
I-69 Accountability Project, CARR
Editor's note: The MPO postponed action on this matter until its next meeting on Nov. 4, 2011.
Earlier this year, members of the Bloomington Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) took an action long-awaited by many residents of Monroe County and southwestern Indiana. The MPO members said “no” to a NAFTA Superhighway project that has produced numerous environmental violations that are currently in federal court. They also said “no” to a multi-billion dollar I-69 project that has already taken away funds from much-needed projects to address our crumbling infrastructure throughout the state. And if new terrain I-69 moves ahead as planned, it will only accelerate the unacceptable deterioration of Indiana’s transportation infrastructure.
On Friday, Sept. 9, residents of Monroe County and all of the neighboring counties will encourage the Bloomington MPO to continue to hold firm in the decision made earlier this year.
Tim Maloney wasn't alone when he objected to the U.S. Army's October 2010 finding that a reuse plan for the Newport Chemical Depot would have no significant environmental impact on the Vermillion County environs. That the plan offered no protection for a rare and endangered black-soil prairie on the base wasn't even the most confounding aspect. Proposed by a local reuse authority empowered to determine the 7,100-acre base's future, the plan called for a coal-liquefaction plant on land that had been maintained largely in agricultural and natural states.
The Army's determination that a coal plant would produce no adverse environmental impacts was one of several issues the Hoosier Environmental Council's (HEC) senior policy director said rendered it "inadequate" under federal law. "This would be a major industrial facility, with potential impacts to air quality, water quality, disturbance or destruction of forest, wetlands, and prairie, and dramatic change in the nature of the property," Maloney wrote in Dec. 18, 2010, comments. He called on the Army to complete a full environmental impact statement for Newport.
The Midwest Rising Convergence 2011, on Aug. 12–15 at the University of Missouri–St. Louis conference center, wasn’t an ordinary conference. It featured no experts or celebrities. The 200 or so participants co-operatively ran it, cooking and serving meals, working at the registration desk and holding workshops.
Billed as an anticorporate gathering of activists with a focus on environmental and economic justice and on the interconnectedness of social justice issues, the convergence was highlighted by several instances of direct action.
NEWPORT, IND. – Environmental activists in west-central Indiana have lost the first round of their ongoing struggle to protect a patch of endangered black-soil prairie on the U.S. Army's Newport Chemical Depot (NECD). On Sept. 15, the Army is scheduled to transfer the 7,100-acre base to a quasi-governmental group, with no protections whatsoever for the prairie and several endangered species that frequent it.
The restored, 336-acre prairie's fate rests with the Newport Chemical Depot Local Reuse Authority, whose five members are appointed by the Vermillion County Commissioners. So far they have refused to commit either way and at times have been downright hostile toward the preservationists.