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sheilas-letters
Protecting communities' health must remain a priority

As published in the Bellingham Herald on 12 April, 2001.

Georgia-Pacific West Inc. made some energy-related decisions that damaged its ability to operate profitably. G-P's solution was to operate the mill on diesel generators. G-P requested a permit from the state Department of Ecology to operate the generators.

DOE issued the permit as required. G-P's emissions violated the air-quality standards, and G-P decided to shut down voluntarily the generators before DOE told G-P to shut them down or face a cease-and-desist order. G-P did not inform the mayor of this decision. The mayor conducted his own investigation and had the city seek an injunction to shut down the generators. The city has withdrawn the request for an injunction.

G-P, Doe and the city all had a legal and moral obligation to ensure that the air-quality standards be enforced and that the health of the residents of Bellingham be protected.

In this situation, the law worked.

In all endeavors, the point of diminishing returns is reached. Pollution harms our communities' health. Manufacturing companies produce pollution, high-paying jobs and economic benefits to the city residents. The economic loss of the shutdown will be about $100 million a year for the county. The products produced by these companies are a necessary part of our lives. Protecting our communities' health must remain a high priority.

However, we need to address the problems associated with the manufacture of the products necessary for our community at the local level and stop exporting our pollution and the associated economic benefits to other states and countries.

Sheila L Richardson
Bellingham

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