Leigh Touchton wonders what Brad Lofton is hiding

This message was sent to me by the author, who requested I blog it.


Subject: My response to Brad Lofton, why doesn’t he want his correpondence in the Valdosta Daily Times? What is he hiding?
From: Leigh Touchton
To: blofton@industrialauthority.com
Date: Thu, 16 Sep 2010 20:53:56 EDT

(Please see correspondence below mine which I am responding to: Mr. Brad Lofton’s email to his “stakeholders” which he doesn’t want to put in the newspaper )

Mr. Lofton:

My title is President of the Valdosta-Lowndes branch of the NAACP, I am not the Chairperson. I have a Master’s in Science in Biology from the University of Virginia, I have taught Environmental Science classes at the college level. It is incorrect and furthermore rude for you to refer to the President of the NAACP as part of the “misinformation on the street.”

I would be happy to deconstruct your arguments on the trip to Cadillac, Michigan, and how “green” Biomass Incineration can be. I invite readers to research all the Biomass incinerators around the country that have been shut down. They are banned in Massachusetts. They have been blocked in Florida. They show up in areas of the country where wealthy industrialists control the government and environmental regulations are lax. All the major environmental organizations in this country oppose them because they burn more wood that can be sustainably harvested. In the decade that is the hottest on record, in a crucial period in human history when life literally hangs in the balance over Global Climate Change, the Lowndes County Industrial Authority has decided to implement a Biomass Incinerator which spews more carbon dioxide than a coal plant.

In my letter to the editor of the Valdosta Daily Times, I did not call the Industrial Authority an environmental racist. What I stated quite clearly was that the siting of the Biomass Incinerator in a predominantly black neighborhood constitutes environmental racism.

Regardless of your attempted spin about the one-mile radius, there are 2 predominantly black elementary schools in that 1-mile radius and of course those students do not RESIDE at their elementary schools, neither do the congregants at the 7 black churches located nearby. Your one-mile radius is an arbitrary number designed to manipulate the facts. Within 2 miles of the plant are Valdosta’s most affluent black residential community, a residential assisted living facility serving over 60 families, 2 huge apartment complexes, a third predominantly black elementary school, 2 Head Start programs, and 7 large black churches. You’ve obviously never driven around the proposed site because the disproportionate impact on black people would have been made clear to you.

The only good jobs this plant will bring are the developers who will receive lucrative contracts and the wood suppliers who will receive lucrative contracts. The 25 jobs the plant will supposedly provide will be more than offset by the hundreds of people who will sicken and die every year from cancer and respiratory disease, particularly children, the elderly, and those with lung disease. My friend with COPD lives in Brittany Wood apartments and she doesn’t really care that the landfill’s lifespan will be lengthened by burning sludge because her lifespan will be shortened by it.

The NAACP is not interested in how many people you say you contacted prior to this plant being approved, because apparently no one ever contacted the residents who are going to have to live with 50 trucks a day spewing gas, fumes, and creating noise pollution in their community while they watch their property values decline. Apparently you never spoke with the health care professionals at Sands-Horizon or the people living with asthma and COPD in Brittany Woods and Park Chase apartments. Apparently you never spoke with a single minister of any of the large black churches that are located near this site. Apparently you never spoke with the local Boards of Education because at Monday night’s VBOE meeting not a single Board Member knew anything about this. Apparently you never spoke to any PTO parents at the 3 elementary schools that will be impacted by this plant. Apparently you never spoke to any pulmonologist or spokesperson for the American Lung Association because they overwhelmingly oppose these kinds of plants. Apparently you never spoke with any representative from any environmental organization in the country because the vast majority oppose these kinds of plants.

But you did manage to email your “stakeholders” privately outside the glare of the news media, an action that I find reprehensible. Democracy demands transparency.

As we in the NAACP often are forced to confront, most government officials think that black citizens don’t need to be consulted prior to siting a dangerous polluting factory in their midst. As we in the NAACP are often forced to confront, most government officials think they know what is best for black people.

I think it is quite clear who is misinforming the public.

I have intentionally copied your correspondence and mine to the Valdosta Daily Times and all of the real stakeholders in our county precisely because I want to energize a forum for the truth.

Leigh Touchton, President
Valdosta-Lowndes NAACP

Brad Lofton correspondence is included below:

And I already posted it in a previous blog entry.