Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Other Opinions · Physicians against...
. . . .

Physicians against Biomass, Lauta Shea

M.D. - June 7th, 2010
Physicians Against Biomas: Why you should be concerned
By Laura Shea, M.D.
As a physician studying the recent environmental health research, I am
deeply concerned over the air pollution that biomass incinerators in our
region will create.
There is a perception by many that biomass energy is “clean.” The reality
is that whether combusting directly or engaged in gasification, biomass
resources do generate air emissions. In fact, many existing biomass
incinerators produce higher amounts of two known pollutants than coal
burning plants: nitrogen oxide and particulate matter air pollution, which
are documented as having the broadest-reaching health impact of the
pollutants regulated in our air. Because of the light weight of these
gases and particles, they can travel long distances and affect air quality
far away from the emission source.
Nitrogen oxides are a mixture of gases that react with oxygen to cause
ozone air pollution (smog). Ozone causes asthma in children, aggravates
lung conditions such chronic bronchitis or asthma and even leads to
premature death.
Particulate matter air pollution is also worrisome. Research released last
month showed several alarming statistics about the number of people dying
or becoming ill due to exposure to this pollutant. This research summary
stated that there is no safe lower limit for particulate matter air
pollution. This is because they have found that higher death and disease
rates are present even at lower levels of this pollutant.
Yet another concern is with a newer identified form of air pollution
called ultrafine particles. These particles are being found to be even
more toxic to humans than other pollutants because they get deeper into
the body. While the EPA is funding research for this dangerous new
pollutant, it is not yet regulated or monitored.
I am also concerned about the number of biomass incinerators either
proposed or operating in Northern Michigan and the cumulative effect they
will have on air pollution, particularly ozone levels which is caused by
pollutants from several sources miles away from each other. Nearly all of
the monitored areas in Michigan will be over the legal limit for a new
lower ozone standard that will be put forth by the EPA soon, based on the
new scientific research. Unfortunately for those of us living in Northern
Michigan, the EPA does not require air quality monitoring in regions with
populations of less than 100,000 people so we will not know what effect
this potential plant and others in the region will have on the quality of
the air we breathe. Because of these issues, the EPA is now recommending
that communities become proactive regarding the prevention of air
Is installing a biomass incinerator in Traverse City proactive when there
are other clean renewable options available? How is it even compatible
with the other energy-smart development in the downtown Traverse City
Several local physicians and I have co-signed a letter to city
commissioners recommending against a biomass incinerator until truly clean
energy options such as wind/ solar/ hydroelectric/methane recycling are
maximized and the full health impact of biomass pollution is analyzed.
So some tough questions remain for the TCLP board and our city leaders:
• Have we really maximized the clean renewable energy solutions here in
Northern Michigan prior to moving toward a dirtier solution such as
biomass? (The answer is undeniably “No.”)
• Why are we only investing in a small amount of wind power when site
engineers say they can produce more?
• Why is the existing hydroelectric infrastructure not being considered as
an option for generating base load energy needs?
• Why has the commercial development of methane landfill gas recycling not
been optimized and utilized?
•Why are we not considering technologies such as the pump storage
facility operating in the City of Ludington to store the energy
produced from intermittent methods such as wind so it can then provide
base load needs?
• Why have aggressive conservation programs not been rolled out as part of
our total energy plan?
• Have the newer low-cost, mass-produced solar options been fully explored?
• Have energy grid “feed-in” programs been considered or meaningful
subsidization programs implemented?
• Could a natural gas contract (a much cleaner source than coal or
biomass) be undertaken as a supplemental bridging measure until a truly
clean renewable energy portfolio is developed based upon recent clean
energy technologies?
Citizens have asked these questions and have not received acceptable
answers. In fact, the answers that are provided seem to boil down to one
of cost: biomass incineration is the cheapest per kilowatt-hour of the
renewable options.
I would propose that we also consider the not-so-hidden costs of polluting
our air, such as the conservative estimate of $500 million of health care
costs that our nation spends annually that could be saved by meeting
federal clean air standards; or the individual cost of a controller asthma
inhaler which runs on the order of $200 per month. And even more
importantly, if our children develop asthma or our loved ones die a few
years sooner, what are the price tags for those outcomes?
Installing a biomass incinerator in Traverse City is not only cavalier,
but is perhaps unnecessarily jeopardizing the health of our citizens,
given the recent scientific evidence of the health effects of air
pollution. I encourage city residents to contact the City Commissioners
and urge them to vote against the TCLP capital budget proposal that will
be put before them early next month, which includes moving forward with a
biomass incinerator. This is the only way at this point to avoid spending
additional resources exploring a biomass solution while leaving these
other questions unanswered.
TCLP must shift its focus, go back to the drawing board, and develop a
cleaner, more innovative energy plan to meet the needs of our community.
I believe that striving to keep our air clean and our citizens healthy
should be the highest priority when developing an energy strategy for the
decades to come.

Laura Shea, MD, is a family practice physician from Traverse City.
See: www.epa.gov, and

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5