Despite the fact that big corporations wield more power than ordinary voters, sometimes our voices are heard and we can savor our small victories.
Case in point is the proposed hazardous waste incinerator proposed for Bristol, PA – just across the Delaware River from New Jersey. The developer was far from forthright in disclosing the types of waste being spewed by his smokestacks and there was concern from the local residents as well as people in Mercer and Burlington Counties. Burlington City hired Governor Jim Florio’s law firm to represent their interests, and at a recent zoning board meeting, air breathers and water drinkers from both sides of the river lodged protests. Burlington County Freeholders Aimee Belgard (D) and Joe Howarth (R) were there to express opposition to the plan.
This opposition worked – at least for now. The developer withdrew his plans and the incinerator is on hold. Of course, the battle is never over, and concerned citizens need to remain vigilant.
The argument that the developer relies on is the creation of local jobs. That may be true, but if we were to legalize crack houses and brothels, those would create jobs too. It’s not the number of jobs we create, but the quality and societal benefit that those jobs bring.
We need to emphasize recycling and conservation to reduce the overall amount of waste that we dispose of. And using our air and water as a repository for the inevitable waste we create is not the right answer. That’s the message we need to send to our corporations and elected officials. Constantly.