Two October 25 Letters to the Editor Opposing HECA

BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN OCTOBER 25, 2013

Pollution deserves more press

I was depressed to see the article in the Oct. 18 Californian titled, “Air Pollution causes cancer, WHO agency concludes.” I think most of us know that diesel exhaust is carcinogenic, and that air pollution causes asthma and bronchitis, and harms the lung development of every child living with bad air.

But the World Health Organization’s information was a big reminder for all of us living here in the worst air basin in the nation. Equally if not more depressing was the placement of this article on page 35. This should have been first-page, above-the-fold news. It seems every week we hear of yet another project being brought to Kern that, while providing employment, will ultimately lower our quality of life and possibly cause premature and costly death to many.

I am thinking of the Hydrogen Energy California project, with its 500 round-trips of diesel trucks carrying coal every single day for 20 years. I am thinking of the increase in oil development in our valley, with all of those trucks, movement of earth and drill rigs. This is an environmental-justice issue that should be on page 1.

Lucy Clark Granite Station

Bad air and bad decisions

Oct. 24 was the fourth unhealthy air day in a row in Bakersfield. We have had far too many in the past month. ABC’s Diane Sawyer recently compared China’s horrible air with the worst air in the United States — that of Bakersfield. She later mentioned that polluted air has been determined to cause lung cancer.

As a medical doctor and lifelong resident of Kern County, I have seen first hand effects of air pollution on people’s health. We have a higher asthma rate than the rest of the state. We have a higher death rate due to asthma than the rest of the state. My patients also suffer from valley fever, allergies and host of other ailments due to polluted air. And now we learn that air pollution also causes lung cancer.

It was disheartening to see the Kern County Board of Supervisors sign off so quickly on the Williamson Act cancellation for Hydrogen Energy California, allowing this project to move forward. Especially in light of the 500 tons of new emissions that HECA will further pollute our air with, you would think the supervisors could have been more cautious and consider the public’s numerous questions about the findings our county government must make to justify the Williamson Act cancellation. That was the final “vote” Kern County gets to make on this huge coal-fueled chemical factory. What a shame for the health of Kern County.

Steve Newbrough, MD Bakersfield

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