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Clean Air Ambassador: Jennifer Swearingen

Because our valley experiences inversions on an almost daily basis, emissions from the nearby cement plant can build up to very unhealthy levels.

My family and I live in a small town located in a lush agricultural valley threaded with three rivers and ringed by mountain ranges. We share our valley with abundant wildlife, including elk, deer, antelope, bear, raptors, waterfowl, and trout. Upwind of it all is a 100-year-old cement kiln owned by the Swiss company Holcim, Inc., which wants to increase its already huge profits by burning industrial wastes and scrap tires.

This outdated facility uses obsolete technology to make cement and has frequent day-long malfunctions. Because our valley experiences inversions on an almost daily basis, emissions from the plant can build up to very unhealthy levels. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's own research shows that if this plant is allowed to burn tires and other wastes, emissions will become even more toxic.

Over the past twenty years, Montanans Against Toxic Burning—a grassroots advocacy group consisting of farmers, ranchers, educators, recreationists, business owners, and more than 100 physicians—has fought our local cement plant's efforts to burn liquid hazardous waste, industrial wastes, and millions of scrap tires. With the EPA's new definition of solid waste, however, our local cement plant will be allowed to burn a whole slew of wastes without going through the normal permitting process and without appropriate monitoring, adequate control technology, or protective emissions limits.

To say that we are stunned at this outcome is an understatement!

We implore the EPA to rethink its decision on these negligent rules, and we urge members of Congress to create responsible regulations for solid waste management that will protect human health and the environment.
 

Ambassador Group Affiliation: 
Montanans Against Toxic Burning
Ambassador Profession: 
Editor