Sunday, October 21, 2007

Manufacturing Pollution

Pat Howard had a great column today questioning critics on this tires-to-energy plant planned for the old IP site. He makes a great point about the double standard of our bemoaning the loss of the manufacuting base of old, but also bemoaning the side effects of new manufacturing proposals. He even brings up the smell from Hammermill, which, of course, was my first thought when people started protesting this tire-burning plant. Dr.D, as both an environmentalist and somebody who grew up in the shadow of the 'Mill, do you have any thoughts on this? Do your parents like the fresh air, or would they rather see economic development in their neck of the woods? Any other Eastsiders out there?



DrD said...

East Siders are vociferously against the tires-to-fuel plant. In fact, there is an organized effort to block the facility.

Here's the issue: I don't think that the East Siders are against economic development. They certainly back GE.

However, who on Earth wants a tire-burning facility in their back yard? Nobody.

Hammermill was awful. It poisoned local streams, it polluted the lake, and the air quality was severely degraded.

When I was a kid, we would catch fish in the lake with huge tumors and goiters on them...and big, brown, foamy gunk would form in a line about 100 yards from shore. Nasty stuff.

I know that people "bemoan" the loss of manufacturing jobs in the area, but those jobs aren't coming back any time soon. Manufacturing jobs have moved to China, and China is now struggling with severe environmental issues.

It strikes me that many people in Erie want a "magic bullet" to solve its economic woes: they want another White Knight like GE to come in and offer 2,000 high-paying manufacturing jobs. But I don't think that's going to happen.

But that doesn't mean the end of the world. I've heard that trained welders are in huge demand in the Erie area. In fact, I think that the community college notion, if executed properly, could train more welders for jobs in Erie County (and electricians, carpenters, HVAC, etc).

Doctors and nurses seem to make pretty good livings in Erie, as do lawyers, insurance agents, building contractors...the list goes on and on.

I guess my belief is that people must change or die. When academics didn't work out for me, I went into professional writing. When that ended, I went back into academics. When things worked out for me in Erie, I stayed there. When it didn't work, I moved.

I guess I don't have much empathy for sitting around "wishing for the good old days," when manufacturing jobs were plentiful and Lake Erie was dead.

You know what I mean? The Industrial Revolution can't last forever, yet there are those who believe it can because it's all they know. But really, 15% annual economic growth is not a reality these days.

And, as I've moved to the city that has displaced Erie as the third-largest in the State, I can say this: Erie does not want to become Allentown. Allentown is a hard town and the crime rate is high.

We had reservations at a restaurant in downtown Allentown and we were warned to be careful "because you could get shot." I planned it so we parked in the Crowne Plaza ramp and only had to walk a block.

In other words, you don't go "hang out" in downtown Allentown like you do on State Street in Erie. When is the last time someone told you to be careful in downtown Erie because "you might get shot"?

Okay. I've said enough. I still thikn Erie is a great place to live and raise kids. If I had children, I wouldn't have moved.

In addition, I don't think any neighborhood in the world would want a tire-burning facility in their back yard.



Anonymous said...

It's usual around here, when an election is looming, for the political hacks to begin the process of aggregating the local numbskulls into action groups to be mobilized in their electoral service.

Anti-smoking, flouridization, tire plant, whatever it takes, along with a few lies and some innuendo ( like calling it a 'tire burning plant)and you have the power to move these idiots into your column.

Anonymous said...

I find it amazing that not one eastsider complained about the bio-fuel plant near the same site...yet a quick look and it seems that so-called biofuel may actually do more harm to the environment then the mis-named "tire burning" plant. I can't wait until the bio plant is at full steam and the noise and stink of soy beans is in the air...take a minute to look at the EPA site and search tire-derived may actually learn something.

Ralph said...

I'm glad to hear the tires-to-energy has some backers. Unfortunately, it sounds a lot worse for the environment than biofuels. Dr.D: interesting perspective on the 'Mill. To tell you the truth, I'm surprised more people haven't pointed on the pollution it seemed to produce. Maybe they cleaned it up in its later years...

Neil Armstrong said...

I wish we lived in a city that had at least one news gathering organization that attempted to do something called "investigating." The only story that I can understand from ETN's coverage regarding the tire to energy project is "Let's wait for the people who are going to make money off of this deal to tell us that the science is good." This proposed plant has been public knowledge for how many months now? Has there been any critical analysis of any of it?

It is pathetic that people in this town do not demand better.

Ralph said...


Great point. As I've said before, it's not like there aren't similar facilities to this already in operation. Could somebody go take a look at one and interview the people who live near it? Is that too much to ask?