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Lisa Marcucci – Environmental Activist (Part 3 of 3)

By Admin | May 24, 2008

Lisa Marcucci continues her interview with us and brings us up to date on her current environmental lobbying efforts.

What environmental cases are you currently working on?

I am working with citizens living near the Bruce Mansfield Power Plant, Beaver County, PA. The plant is owned by First Energy and is the largest power plant in PA – and one of the largest in the US.

Bruce Mansfield is currently listed as a “high priority polluter” on the US EPA’s list. It is currently in violation of opacity (stack emissions).

The Environmental Integrity Project (Washington DC) and Penn Future (Philadelphia) have filed suit against plant for opacity violations. This would be an enforcement case only.

Additional litigation is possible for damages to property and health as a result of numerous “upsets” or major pollution episodes since 2006.

Instead of enforcing laws for compliance using pollution controls, PA DEP is considering raising pollution limits for Bruce Mansfield.

This would be the equivalent to a judge raising the speed limit so it appears speeding driver was not actually breaking the law. Unconscionable to put human health at risk.

Do you have a position on the proposed new coal-fired power plant in Washington County, Pennsylvania?

I am working to prevent the new coal-fired power plant from being built in Robinson Township, Washington County, PA. The power plant is not a “done deal.”

Are you opposed to all coal energy sources?

I am working to counter the statewide billboard campaign touting “Clean Coal.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Coal is not clean, it is not renewable and it is definitely not the future.

How would you rate Ed Rendell’s administration in terms of environmental protection?

I had very high hopes for the Rendell administration. However, I give this administration failing grades. For several years, I have been conducting file reviews at PA DEP public file rooms.

Documents reveal the PA DEP is not enforcing state and federal environmental laws when it comes to many polluters – especially the power plants.

And, while scientists warn of dire consequences – if we do not address the problems of carbon emissions and green house gases, the Rendell administration has allowed an 11% increase in carbon emissions.

As compared to other states, PA had the highest carbon emission increases over that same five year period.

Add to that the newly released American Lung Association, State of the Air Report with Pittsburgh as the #1 worst air in the nation – and I say the Rendell Administration is taking our state in the wrong direction.

Sadly, I believe the PA DEP, especially under the Rendell administration panders too much to industry and actually puts people in harm’s way.

How would you rate President Bush’s record of environmental protection?

Even worse.

President Bush and his administration has systematically dismantled every environmental law it could – all in an effort to save money to wealthy contributors.

For example, Eric Schaeffer was the former Director of Enforcement, US Environmental Protection Agency.

His department was responsible for legal efforts that were succeeding in bringing some of the nation’s worst polluting power plants into full compliance.

Lawsuits were brought and progress was being made. However, soon after President George W. Bush was sworn into office, Mr. Schaeffer was told by the White House that the US EPA would not be suing power plants.

Mr. Schaeffer resigned in protest. He then founded the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) in Washington, DC.

This non-profit agency has been educating people like me on how to understand the regulatory process, conduct file room research, request public participation and seek full enforcement of all state and federal environmental laws.

What is your role for the Environmental Integrity Project?

I am the western PA community outreach person for Environmental Integrity Project (EIP). For the first time we are using facts to level the playing field.

Citizens are learning how to use the laws to gain access to the regulatory and enforcement processes. This has been one of the most important turning points in our western PA grass roots work.

The other most important factors in leveling the playing field is the internet.

No longer can state and/or federal agencies divide and conquer. No longer can PA DEP say Lisa Marcucci is the only one who has a problem with these policies.

There are now networks of us working together, researching facts, using the laws and gaining stronger and effective voices.

What is the most effective way for individulas to fight environmental assaults – lawsuits, public outcry, grassroots boycotts, bad publicity in the press?

All of the above.

Sadly, the most effective has been and continues to be lawsuits. This seems to be the only message polluters understand.

And, lawsuits have also been effective in forcing regulatory agencies like the PA DEP and the US EPA to uphold federal and state laws designed to protect people and the environment.

Without “forced” enforcement, some regulators have been allowing pollution to go unchecked and those responsible to go unpunished.

Don’t misunderstand: I like my electricity. I respect hard-working Americans who mine the coal and those who work in industry.

However, we need a balance. It does not have to be an either-or situation. We can have industry and environmental and health protections.

Industry can provide safer operations, they just choose not to because it would cost them money. Our health is being forsaken in an effort to save money.

Copyright 2008 DailyInterview.com

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