The new Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp. president and
chief executive is by many accounts aggressive and personable, and he
says, ready to take charge and bring much needed jobs to the area quickly.
Brad Lofton said he will bring 500 jobs in the first 18 months, and an
average of 500 jobs each year over the next five to 10 years.
And a pony!
Has anybody verified the jobs Lofton claimed he brought to Lowndes County?
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Chairman Jerry Jennett asked for Citizens Wishing to be Heard,
and first up was
Leigh Touchton, President of
who presented them
a letter from Dr. Robert D. Bullard,
about his findings that 80% of the residents
within one mile of the proposed Wiregrass Power Plant are black
and 75% of biomass facilities in Georgia are sited in minority/poor communities.
Leigh Touchton, President, Valdosta-Lowndes NAACP
regular monthly meeting, Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority (VLCIA)
Norman Bennett, Roy Copeland, Tom Call, Mary Gooding, Jerry Jennett chairman,
J. Stephen Gupton attorney, Brad Lofton Executive Director, Allan Ricketts Program Manager,
15 March 2011.
Videos by John S. Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.
Perhaps I missd it because I was a few minutes late,
but this was the only mention of the Wiregrass Power LLC biomass plant
that I heard at this VLCIA board meeting.
Many “clean wood chips” burning biomass plants can easily turn to
burning more contaminated fuels (which may be cheaper or even free),
or get paid to take really dirty wastes like trash or tires. Public
opposition to biomass facilities has driven siting that follows the
“path of least resistance,” which often translates to states where
environmental regulations are lax and companies are given huge tax
incentives to build these kinds of incinerators, and investors count
on the local residents being uninformed and apathetic. Environmental
justice siting concerns often get buried in the excitement and notion
of “green energy.”
Zoning laws are often legal weapons deployed in facilitating energy apartheid.
There’s more, including a writeup about the local proposed incinerator,
Residents in Valdosta, Georgia are fighting to block a 40 megawatt biomass incinerator slated for construction on a 22-acre site in their community. The community is already overburdened with polluting industries and heavy truck traffic.
The Valdosta-Lowndes branch of the NAACP unanimously passed a resolution
of Environmental Racism concerning the siting of Sterling Planet’s
Wiregrass Power, LLC, Biomass Incinerator, slated for construction in
Valdosta, Georgia, next to the Mud Creek wastewater treatment plant.
This incinerator is sited in a predominantly black community: within 2
miles of the incinerator are 2 predominantly black elementary schools,
J.L. Lomax with 607 students and Southeast with 304 students, and
one predominantly white elementary school, Moulton-Branch with over
500 students. The “Little Blue School” Head Start program serves over
165 children ages 3-5. There are 7 large black churches including
Valdosta’s largest African-American church, New Life Ministries,
pastored by Dr. Angela Manning, who has organized one Town Hall against
the Biomass incinerator. Other churches include the Church at Pine
Hill, Morning Star Baptist, Evangel Temple, Church of God of Prophecy,
and others, with congregations numbering hundreds. In the area is
Sands-Horizon assisted living facility which serves over 60 families,
2 large apartment complexes, Brittany Woods and Park Chase, as well as
Valdosta’s largest and most affuent black residential community.
Executive Director of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Industrial Authority,
Brad Lofton, rejects the claim of environmental racism, and at the
September 27, 2010, Valdosta Board of Education meeting called Valdosta
NAACP President Touchton “irresponsible” for making the public claim.
He says there are seven times more white people who live around the
proposed plant. He did not address the fact that school children and
church members do not show up on census forms.
The incinerator will emit 87-89 tons per year of tiny particulate
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.
In her response, she went on to rebut Lofton’s alleged facts.
He has never to my knowledge responded to the points Touchton raised in her rebuttal.
Instead, he goes around making a joke out of the NAACP.