When people presented him with their worries, real and valid ones about the implications of disposing of the toxic ash here, he deftly brushed off their concerns. "I realize you have your perceptions, and your perceptions are real to you," Hill told the crowd. The implied meaning: they may be real to YOU, but they're certainly not ACTUALLY real.
Our concern here at the Herald is this precise attitude: that bureaucrats, politicians, and executives know what's best for Perry County, and its own people don't. We can't get our local leaders to listen to us. They're only in it for the money. We can't get EPA to heed our concerns, Hill told us as much Wednesday night: "I'm not here asking, quite frankly for approval."
The arrogance displayed by federal, state, and local officials toward the real and deeply-felt concerns of our residents is disgusting. There are people living in Perry County right now who feel completely powerless, and rightfully so. Their concerns about the quality of life for them and future generations are being brushed aside. Their worry, and ours too, is that no one listens. Decisions are being made that will impact Perry County forever — once that ash is here, it's here to stay. That makes some of us uncomfortable. On one hand, EPA sent us a representative to tell us that the ash was perfectly safe, and we had no need to worry. In Washington, though, that same agency is rethinking its position on coal ash as we speak. Concerns about the material's toxic constituents may mean it gets reclassified as hazardous waste. The Dept. of Homeland Security wants to scrub over 40 existing coal ash storage facilities from the map, citing the danger they pose to surrounding communities as potential terrorist targets. With mixed messages like that, tell us again why we shouldn't be concerned.
I've posted the Herald's coverage of the coal ash debacle thus far to get it to a wider audience. Does it seem inflammatory, or fabricated, or intended to mislead? That's not our intention. We check all our facts, and when we are informed of inaccuracies, we correct them. We're not here to lie to the people. We're here to give them a voice.
From the look of things, we're the only ones who will.