There were several things that jumped out at me right away.
First, Lowndes County doesn’t even have a device for monitoring
ozone levels. We need to get one.
Second, on particulate emissions, Lowndes County gets a “B”.
Fulton County gets an “F”, Dekalb gets an “F”, Cobb gets “D” and
Clayton gets “C”. Horrifyingly, Douglas, Fayette, Henry and Rockdale
Counties don’t even have particulate monitors.
Third, over one third of the population of Lowndes County falls into
the two vulnerable categories of “Over 65” or “Under 18”.
Do the leaders of our area really want us to
be like the Atlanta area? Do we want to poison our children,
our parents and our grandparents with dirty air?
Dirty air leads to both lung and cardiovascular disease.
What are a few of things we could do to keep our air clean?
We could transition to clean energy sources like solar.
We could develop public transportation.
We could become active in our community and attend public meetings
to let our leaders know what issues are important to us and that
we want to be involved in decisions regarding development, industry
and environmental stewardship.
It is obvious by now that Mr. Lofton has no proof whatsoever that
biomass is “safe”. He does not have one statement by a medical
organization, not one scholarly publication he can share with us that
backs up his claim. (Coincidentally, the same is true for other claims,
as the event on January 13 will show.)
Members of WACE (and others in the community) have tried to receive
Valdosta is an innovative city with expanding opportunities for
our growing community. Valdosta has recently celebrated 150 years of
progress. As a citizen, I have spent most of my adult life experiencing
this progress. I’ve seen economic developments through recruitment,
retention and expansions that benefit our city, with tremendous support
from our communities. I’ve seen job opportunities that improve the
livelihood of our citizens, through the recruitment of national companies
who have established their businesses in our great city.
Our school systems are innovative, and they serve as models for
other school systems in our state, with great parental involvement and
encouragement toward improvements. Our University and College systems are
some of the best in the state, with phenomenal enrollment and retention
of traditional and non-traditional students in our city and abroad.
Our religious establishments are growing from leaps and bounds with more
and more people becoming citizens of our great city, who are leaving
larger unsafe, polluted, and unproductive cities, for a safer, less
polluted and productive small town lifestyle, such as our wonderful
The development of small businesses, through our downtown projects, have
been a great success story for our city. The innovative improvements
make our city one of the most visited in our state. We pride ourselves
as a Titletown community, through continuous progress over 150 years.
When I contemplate our shared 150 years of progress, I find it disturbing
that our Industrial Authority would make such a bad decision as to bring
a Biomass incinerator into our community. As an advocate for the welfare
of children, women, and families I am gravely concerned and disappointed
that such a project has been endorsed by leaders who were elected to
carry out the wishes of the community for the betterment of all citizens.
My sincere thanks for letting me present my concerns at yesterday’s
meeting. It is very much appreciated.
Please understand that what I presented is based on facts. I have
worked for ten years at VSU as an educator, and my students and
colleagues know me as a straightforward person. I may ruffle some
feathers at times, but I clearly was brought up in a no-nonsense
If Mr. Lofton would not continue to ignore our concerns (as he again
did at the BOE meeting), to misrepresent organizations such as the
Sierra Club (an organization I happen to support), or to keep
bringing up names of those who endorse the biomass plant (yet
conveniently overlooks a conflict of interest), I probably would
have never brought this up. However, during these past couple weeks,
and particularly with his behavior at the BOE meeting, Mr. Lofton
has added insult to injury, and enough is enough.
Pastor Angela Manning sent this message to Brad Lofton Monday 4 October
and asked that it be posted here.
I just want you and every one at the Industrial Authority to know that my
congregation and I are totally against the building of the bio mass plant.
There are people in my church who suffer from asthma and COPD. This plant
would only make those who already have existing breathing problems worse. We
have a number of children and babies too. According to the American Lung
Association this plant would be harmful to the health of healty human beings
let alone those who have problems. I stand with the NAACP, the SCLC, the
American Lung Association, and any other group fighting against the bio mass
Taking a Stand in the Community,
Dr. Angela Manning
Karen Noll sent this letter to the Valdosta Board of Education (VBOE)
and asked that it be posted here:
Dear Valdosta City Board of Education,
I just wanted to thank you for responding to my concerns about the
proposed biomass incinerator by seeking further information. I also
want to thank Dr. Brad Bergstom and Dr. Gretchen Bielmyer for coming
and speaking before the board. Their expertise in the area of ecology
and toxicology provided valuable information to the discussion. At
the same time, I greatly appreciate that these two professors’
comments were succinct and to the point.
I am deeply disappointed that the Industrial authority chose to
consume the board’s time with a 45 minute presentation that never
answered the question: Is this plant safe for our students?
Never did Brad Lofton or Allen Pickett come close to discussing the
air pollution emissions and their effects on the health of our
children. Anecdotal information from hand-picked people in Cadillac,
Michigan does not convince me as to the safety of this proposed plant
for my children.
Meanwhile, the American Lung Association, a group that I trust,
spoken out against biomass and its emissions in regard to children’s
I am appalled at the disrespectful tone that Brad Lofton took when
addressing concerned citizens of this community. I am ashamed that
the Industrial Authority would be so callous as to waste the Valdosta
City Board of Education’s time with an endless sales pitch.
I truly appreciate the board’s effort to become informed about the
issue and hope that we can get to the bottom of the paramount
question: is the proposed biomass plant safe for our students?
Michael Noll has offered this letter to anyone who wants to publish it:
This is an open letter with a few questions for the Industrial Authority on the proposed biomass incinerator. Simple answers will do, as we have heard enough confusing verbiage by now:
1. Isn’t it correct that annually the proposed biomass incinerator will emit 247 tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2), 247 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx), 247 tons of carbon monoxide (CO), 135 tons of particulate matter (PM), 113 tons of PM10, 87 tons of PM2.5, 60 tons of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and 14 tons of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs)?
2. Isn’t it true that the American Lung Association states that pollutants such as NOx, SO2, and PM can have “severe impacts on the health of children, older adults, and people with lung disease”?
3. Isn’t it correct that the “baghouse filtration technology” in connection with the proposed incinerator cannot capture PM10 (particulate matter smaller than 10 microns) much less PM2.5 (particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns)?
From: Leigh Touchton
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 2010 20:04:48 -0400
Subject: Mr. Lofton once again misrepresents the facts
Cc: email@example.com, [and the VDT and some elected officials and other interested parties]
1. Mr. Lofton stated: “Despite what Mrs. Touchton stated, we’ve been in
touch with the Massachusetts and Florida EPD, and in no way, shape, or form
is either state banning biomass facilities. In fact, there are 15 scheduled
now for New England, many in Mass, and a number in Florida. There have been
discussions regarding the level of incentives (tax credits) allowed, but no
moratorium. We’ll be happy to share our contacts with you.”
I would like for Mr. Lofton to share his contacts with WACE. Because
previously his contacts at the Sierra Club were misrepresented by him.
Sierra Club does NOT endorse Biomass Incineration, neither does any other
major environmental organization in America.
I would also like Mr. Lofton to share his private email list of stakeholders
with WACE, in particular the investors, because I would like to share some
information with them. I expect transparency in our public officials and
his refusal to address my letter to the editor of the Valdosta Daily Times
in the same newspaper in which it was published does not lead me to believe
that he is operating in good faith. I am very disturbed that any public
official would state that they did not want to “energize a forum for
misinformation” regarding published concerns in the local newspaper. Mr.
Lofton has a duty to respond to all citizens’ concerns publicly. I am very
disturbed that he thought he could privately email a group about my
published letter to the editor and that the first I learned of it was nearly
a month after he did so. And no, I still don’t wish to have a private
telephone conversation with him or a private meeting with him, I’ve been
reading all the public documents that have resulted from his supposed
lengthy due diligence period. As I stated, the first I learned of this
proposed biomass incinerator was when the EPD called for public comments.
Mr. Lofton and Councilman James Wright were both invited to the June Women
in the NAACP meeting and neither man showed up so I don’t really care to
engage in who didn’t return whose phone calls. Additionally he could have
made contact with the schools and churches in the area, or attended an SCLC
or NAACP meeting but he did not. All our our meetings are open to the
public, unlike his private list of stakeholders.
Here’s one internet article on the moratorium in Massachusetts.
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
Date: Thu, 16 Sep 2010 20:53:56 EDT
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.
This is a letter to the editor that appeared in the VDT on about 17 August 2010.
When Wiregrass Power chose the site for their Biomass plant, they put
it near one of Valdosta’s most affluent black communities. There are
at least six black churches: New Life Ministries, Morning Star,
Evangel Temple, Southside Church of Christ, Church of Prophecy, Church
at Pine Hill. Two predominantly black elementary schools are in the
area: Southeast and Moulton Branch. A large senior citizen assisted
living community, Sands Horizon, is located in the affected area and
serves over 60 families. Scott Park, where the Sands Horizon residents
enjoy outings and the local children enjoy baseball games, is located
nearby. Huge apartment complexes with several buildings, Park Chase
and Brittany Woods, whose residents are primarily people of color, are
located near the proposed site.