Thursday, August 08, 2013
SWEPCO’s expert witness Brian Johnson assures us that clearing hundreds of acres for the proposed high voltage power lines will not harm our flora and fauna, our watersheds or our health. I am not reassured. His statements strike me as simplistic at best and dangerously misleading at worst.
That fact that SWEPCO uses herbicides registered by the Environmental Protection Agency is meaningless. The EPA does not test for safety, merely regulates usage. This is a huge difference. The chemical companies registering the products make the safety claims if any (anyone notice the fox guarding the henhouse here?)
In reality, none of the herbicides, or their inert ingredients or the mixes of herbicides, are guaranteed safe for flora and fauna or humans. I quote from a letter to Carroll Electric (who also made claims that their herbicide spraying was according to label and therefore just fine) from David McQuiddy, Chief of the Pesticides Section/EPA Region 6 office in Dallas, Texas, May 21, 2009:
“EPA does not view registration as a guarantee of safety. EPA regulations specifically prohibit manufacturers of pesticides from making claims such as ‘safe’ or ‘harmless’ or ‘non-toxic to humans and pets’ with or without accompanying phrases such as ‘when used as directed.’”
Note also that there is plenty of scientific evidence these herbicides and the inert ingredients can have harmful effects, even when used according the label. No one has studied the consequences of mixing herbicides, a common practice. Who will monitor the long-term effect of SWEPCO’s herbicides? Another fox?
And since when does AR Dept. of Environmental Quality have enough staff to monitor such widespread clearing and spraying? I would like ADEQ to send us the names of all the staff and their proposed schedule for overseeing SWEPCO’s work over the next few years. And please note that Best Management Practices are voluntary (and even if required, who will enforce?) I wonder if and how SWEPCO will supervise their subcontractors.
It’s all about money, big money on a federal level for power companies. We have one wealthy fox promising us poor chickens that all will be well. As for me, I fear, dear Chicken Little, that the sky really is falling. Woe to our beloved Ozarks.
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