Monday, December 20, 2010

More from LEO, the home town org opposing a coal ash landfill

Ginger Gambaro posts an update after the recent public hearing in Franklin County. As usual among political office holders, power to the peevish.

My post landed on

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Testimony surrounding a landfill for coal ash in Labadie, MO

Yesterday evening 4 Sierra Club members from St. Louis and I drove to Union, MO. to attend the hearing held about proposed zoning requirements in the County related to a request by Ameren Missouri (formerly "UE"). The Corporation wishes to establish a 400 acre site in the floodplain of the Missouri River as a place to build a landfill for coal ash waste from the power plant in Labadie, Missouri. They have already purchased the land. Meanwhile, the Federal EPA has been examining whether coal ash (or "flyash") will be listed in the future as a hazardous material. Persons testifying were from Franklin County for the most part, with Labadie Environmental Organization in the lead of opposing such a plan. Members of Sierra Club also oppose it, especially the fact of planning it to be in the flood plain.

Some of us question why anyone would have considered such a plan as feasible. Residents of St. Louis County and City registered their opposition to such a threat to drinking water provided by the Missouri River all along the course of the River. A local physician, Dr. Friedman,  testified to the existence of heavy metals in coal ash, and strongly advised that if contamination occurred it could cause multiple disorders in adults and developmental disorders in children or fetuses.

Presiding County Commissioner John E. Griesheimer seemed to believe that the whole matter is a simple one that concerns only the County itself, although all testimony was courteously received. The weight of the testimonials suggested that residents of the two counties agreed that the concerns about the coal ash itself outweighed any common zoning matter.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reading the news, fighting the blues. . . .

Some days and times I feel discouraged by the events in the world. Who cannot, while we still wage wars, and produce environmental changes that imperil other species besides humans? Somewhere I heard that our human population will be around 10 billion by the end of the current century. That is certainly supposition, considering that we will in the interim face our own survival threats. In many places people already do. We consider ourselves blessed in the United States, somewhat overly optimistically, as though we can continue the same mistakes indefinitely without cruel consequences to our children's children. We are taking little responsibility for our errors. And the whole world sees those errors as American. We plant denial rather than objective reasoning in our media through the prevalent advertising campaigns of large business.

Despite all the knowledge we have accumulated we continue to exceed ourselves in numbers while simultaneously waging long wars, disrupting the balance of nature by recklessly using resources. The wars are aimed at obtaining access to resources. To say they are defensive is a universally understood lie. Corporate raids on other continents are seen by local peoples as outright robbery, with environmental consequences in Nigeria, Mexico, South and Central America, plus elsewhere, that serve our consumerist culture.

Sometimes I have to just laugh outright about political ideas that are so naive and sometimes backwards, being voiced by leadership inside D.C.

Plant bioengineering, which is extremely expensive, is being seen as quite successful by some people in political positions. Meanwhile, in reality, the use of genetically modified (GM) seeds has been resisted in Europe while it "seems" extremely popular among growers in the USA. As to all the ins and outs of why this is so, let's just boil it down to money versus common sense. Monsanto, an International Corporation based in St. Louis, has been The major producer of GM seeds. How many citizens here even know this story?? Among the most vilified of corporations on earth by environmental and justice activists, Monsanto is rich enough to fight any opposition to the use of their seeds in court, including in Canada.

Just from a purely personal perspective I have found that eating corn based foods that are produced, processed and packaged in the USA is hazardous to my digestive processes. Some sort of corn is widely distributed in all sorts of prepared and packaged foods. Blue corn I do tolerate, but not yellow. This is only my own minor evidence that it doesn't suit me well, of course. But scientists do recognized that bio-engineered plants are not being investigated adequately for adverse affects to human consumers. No, I never watched the movie KING CORN, but I think I get the picture.

We have a stunning lot of money available to research certain areas of human life, including food production, commercial and manufacturing products like computers, machinery, electronic gadgets, and the sciences. How much time and success, on the other hand, do we devote to social investigation, conflict resolution, conflict intervention and diplomacy that have proven positive outcomes? Are we simply a genetically impaired species that cannot make any sense out of ourselves and how we relate? Why exactly does a world leader not envision his or her own country boundaries as friendly territory with a neighbor rather than as a challenge to be overwhelmed by dominance?

Isn't it obvious, when you are watching old episodes of Star Trek, that the science of a live future is human communication?

Maybe I am just naive, even in old age.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Arrival of Environment as Restoration

Just imagine this. Your arctic environment is melting, and threatens the world as a whole with an extenuating  release of migraine level climate warming gas known as methane. OK, now what do you do?

Well of course, you take measures to restore the environment to how it was some 10,000 years ago.

Sergei Zimov is the environmentalist who was also featured in my previous post.

Fortunately for Missouri students and hobby level environmentalists like me we have some judicious journalists who are interested in this subject and willing to post AP news stories about the likes of Sergei Zimov.

Thank heavens for small favors and the irrepressible spirit of science to search for hope.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Is permafrost losing permanency?

Putting things into perspective, we live on a finite planet. Russia is close enough to Sarah Palin that she says she can see it across the Bering Strait from her back yard. With this map you can examine the fact that the methane leak reported in the above article is not all that far away from us. The atmosphere is in danger according to scientific discovery. That is where the methane will end up.

View Larger Map

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Here is an excellent article in Grist that spells out the difference in land depletion between the use of coal and the use of solar .

Meanwhile, our friends in Labadie, MO are still working hard to convince the EPA that a coal ash dump site out there should not be allowed. It sits right on the Missouri River. Coal use has become a dastardly act in my mind, and Ameren UE is providing us electricity from its use. Well, what can we do?

Couldn't we simply install residence by residence solar that can be plugged into the grid? How long might this concept take to get into successful replacement of fossil fuel? How many panels per residence, etc.?

In a small town in Portugal a solar plant was established within range of the community. How was this worked out, I wonder-- as a countryside version of space use, or integrated into the town itself? These articles don't go into specifics to such a degree.

We have so many flat roofed big box buildings in the USA that are nothing but wasted space in my own aesthetic mind. They have impacted some communities positively economically, but in other ways destroyed small communities in our urban towns that often were originally populated by poor or middle class home owners of specific minority or ethnic backgrounds. In some cases they have been positioned in close competition with other such stores, and have since gone out of business or relocated, leaving behind the empty large spread of a building surrounded by parking lots. This has been occurring so rapidly since the 1980s that they have virtually "paved paradise . . . ."

I can still remember the brand new Farmington Walmart filling up with wide-eyed country folk who looked up at the high shelves and the expanse of the whole place with wonder. Boxes and boxes of stuff. The small stores in small towns thereabouts were hurting over it.

My small daughter was fascinated until she saw a large aquarium filled with catfish. She was used to seeing them swimming free in a lake. She was furious that they were trapped them into such a small space in order to be fed to people-- thinking of them as beings.

Couldn't some of those buildings be advantaged into usefulness for the good of the community in a broader sense? A lot of us are still angry about this slow economy, & some will be suffering until it is really back in business. Perhaps some of us could come together in our own residential areas to stun up some responsibility out of especially the larger chain stores which do want to attract us to shop at their businesses. Couldn't they invest in solar panel gardens on their roofs and unused parking expanses? It would be a simple way for us to demand that they look at their bottom lines as dependent on their shoppers, remembering their good fortune, indicating that they can accept cultural responsibility for the greater good of all. Local ordinances might help. Utility companies could be regulated into cooperating with the right push from responsible legislators.

This is a proposal that I am just thinking up by myself, but if you would like to consider working towards a similar goal for a more sustainable urban environment I hope my good karma will carry me toward you in the coming months, while I am also tending to the home fires of my health and, hopefully, some new residential address that works better for me.
You might notice more and more solar panels have been installed on private residences in the inner suburban town where I live, Maplewood, MO. Most of them are on the older homes of relatively prodigious size that were built a century more or less ago. Homeowners are definitely looking for solutions to their heating and energy costs.

More to come.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


This Tuesday is the major election of 2010, when the citizens of the whole country express their opinions at the polls and the resultant outcome can either baffle us or stun us into a celebratory evening. This year the stakes are higher than average, it seems, because of the changes in the election process that have been effected by a recent Supreme Court decision which resulted in virtually unlimited corporate funding for some political positions and offices.

Very few people are like me in my recent determination to leave television behind, preferring other use of my time and other sources for my education or entertainment. When the local broadcast stations limited TV reception to HDTV I just left the whole thing behind, using internet for my most likely source of information. Therefore I haven't actually been one of the many subjected to multiple negative ads during this election season. Lots of people undoubtedly just mute them. But others may be absorbing the competition as making some weird sense. Will this become part of the total dissemination of punditry after the fact? We will soon know the outcomes and wonder once again how well our democracy is in fact functioning.

My own greatest concern during the past year has emerged as a regard for the environment as we more and more hear reports about the use of carbon based fossil fuels that are likely contributing to the changing temperatures recorded across the globe. The startling fact in this state and in the country as a whole is that political personalities and organizations we identify as to the right are apparently dazzled by contributions from corporate sources which have an interest in denying climate change. In fact they apparently want to flat out block environmental safe guards from being legislated into place.

Congressman Roy Blunt, now running for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Christopher "Kit" Bond is one of the recipient of these funds, as reported in the NEW YORK TIMES. In fact, a graph referenced from that page under "multimedia" shows by color contrast that far more of those funds have been distributed to Republican candidates than to Democrats.

Here are some further references to the current news in environment that affects Missourians. I wish that I could report that the super high speed train route between Chicago and St. Louis is in the works, but it is postponed for now in favor of other upgrades in the midwest.

Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and test of our civilization.  
Mohandas Gandhi

Friday, August 27, 2010

Hop on Board the Midwest High Speed Rail!

Years ago, before I had yet become a Mom, I took a train south from Portland, Oregon to San Francisco. From there I needed to transfer to a bus to travel on to a Catholic monastery outside of San Jose, where a number of my fellow beings would meet with Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, who was leading conferences about the experiences of death and dying. This would be my third meeting with her as a teacher and mentor to healing professionals and their patient families. Having heard her in St. Louis once before moving to Portland, where she also spoke, I stood at the station immersed in thought about the many bedsides where I had accompanied patients on their last journey across to life after death as I saw it.

When I stepped into the train, the first one I had ever ridden, passengers were a bit impatient about getting on, as tho' it might leave them behind if they didn't hurry. “Goodness,” I was thinking, with my backpack as a carry-on over my shoulder, “isn't it funny how we all worry that we will be left outside the door?”

Some answer came to my mind, as though another spirit had heard me. “You have just stepped outside the psychology of the herd,” he said. This brought me a smile, of course, and helped to relieve my own puzzled thoughts about going to meet on such a somber topic as death. We live in an odd mind space where we are each individual and collective at the same time. My leanings have always been toward the mystical, so I welcomed this small reassurance.

After finding a seat and putting my pack up over it in the rack, I sat down by the aisle and began to find out quickly how different a train is from highway or air travel. The tracks wind through a different environment which is not so close to the civilized portions of the earth. We started out in the Willamette River Valley. Scenery includes us in a more poignant manner than in an automobile. Areas along hillsides, rivers and mountain passes open in stunning beauty to us.

There was plenty of room on the train, which had come from further north. Another passenger asked if he could join me. I made a move to scoot over to the window, but he motioned me to stay. He was a tall, nice looking man of mystery of course. We stumbled into the where we are from and going to, and proceeded toward a comfortable friendship. He was curious about my somber mood, but he soon shed it for me by telling his own story.

He was a journalist from Canada, he said, and was returning to the Amazon River in Brazil to learn more about the people living there. Undoubtedly he told me more than one story-- this has been over three decades ago now. He was wearing a stetson hat, a casual outdoors jacket, and had a short beard.

“We travelled over the river on a boat,” he was saying, with me asking questions along the way. My image in my memory is a boat being paddled, not motor-driven, possibly with a guide. Along the way they would see virtually no people whatsoever in a jungle of a forest that was yet pristine. Maybe an animal or two could be seen in the underbrush, along with the fish in the river.

“Occasionally,” he said, “some native peoples would come to the riverside to offer us goods to trade. It was as though they knew we were there all along. They would show up with food and we traded them for items that we brought along for that purpose.”
After we had travelled along for an hour or so he decided to go down to the bar in one of the other cars. He took his hat off for a minute and showed me the label in which said “St. Louis Hat Company.” Since I hesitated about joining him he said, “Do you know there is an observation car?” and he pointed the way.

That was an awesome introduction to a picture window of a space where seats face outward and one might wish that one could carry the live video in one's mind forever. It was such as awesome view that I wondered at the fact that more people were not taking advantage of it. Eventually a porter would wander by announcing “Dinner is being served in the dining car.” And a bit later I returned to my seat while evening moved toward nightfall. Letting the back down, I napped a bit and woke up to a mountain top covered with snow. That would have likely been Mt. Shasta, one of the slightly active volcanoes in the Ring of Fire. We were arriving early in the morning in San Francisco. From there I caught a bus to San Juan Obispo.

That was around 1980. At the conference I met an interesting group of nurses, patients and families who worked together over a period of five days with one of the most spiritual teachers to have entered my life and theirs.

My trip back home was filled with somber pondering. My boyfriend picked me up at the Portland station, and my life thereafter opened into a wholly evolutionary tail of wonder into holism, healing, and a constant comment of spirituality that emerged in my work in a new way.

Decades later we as a nation are finally consciously aware that climate change has arrived. In that awareness the Congress and the President have financed expansion of our passenger train system nationwide. Here in the Midwest I am excited about a high speed train route between Chicago and St. Louis. Planning upgraded tracks is currently in process.

Celebrate Amtrak, support Midwest High Speed Rail, and enjoy the ride!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lobbying for coal in Missouri

Stunning to me that former Congressman Richard Gephardt (D) is not just an average lobbyist, but is working for out-moded energy corporations, Ameren & Peabody, among other well-known clients.

Coal is doing rather well nowadays, and is still pressing the issue with the phrase "clean coal" in google ads, etc. --

Chart & info on coal industries show it very active in lobbying nation wide, e.g., to members of Congress.

I am posting this on my blog page (which is all but expired, lol) just for an easy link to the info in one page. Please use it in whatever work you are doing to support moving forward to sustainable green energy sources. Aren't we there yet?

We need to be there yesterday.


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Opinion Sharing with my U.S. Senators on Climate Bill

Dear Senator (Bond & McCaskill):

Information from news sources suggests that a clean energy and climate bill is ahead of immigration on the Senate agenda.

My suggestion is that the bill for our future environment be passed with stringent controls on air pollution that are enforceable. Hopefully this Administration and the Congress of the United States will continue to favor sustainable and passive energy sources rather than fossil fuels. Even biofuels will not be as welcome to the citizens as wind and solar are. Carbon based fuels will continue to be a threat to the atmosphere and climate change, while passive energy ultimately decreases that difficulty. This is my impression from many informed sources as well as friendly opinion. Missouri in fact could be gradually served by a combination of solar and wind sources as fossil fuels are phased out.

Let me remind you that the small town of Rockport, Missouri has been fully powered by wind for the past year or two, as an NPR story features.

That small town is also thriving on the income generated by this plan. In Europe such systems as plugging home based solar panels into the electrical grid have enabled individuals to receive small dividends while participating in local energy production. Many of the local difficulties with providing passive energy could be solved by intersecting existing utilities with local production of passive source energy. Control at the local level could therefore enhance local environment and economy. You are probably aware that the Reverend Larry Rice works with poverty level individuals to provide wind turbines that are small enough for a roof or a garden.

We have an exciting future ahead of us if we work together to insure that the future climate change is an addressable problem. Planting trees and protecting forests internationally will be an ongoing step along with reducing the use of carbon based fuels. We can work with Mother Nature rather than trying to fool her as usual.

Bless you for your service to the citizens of Missouri.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Don't let complications of the political discourse block Obama care.

An article in the New York Times cleared up a lot in my mind about just what had passed yesterday in the House of Congress. Maybe it represents more work than a lot of us wanted to give Congress and the President credit for. For the Democrats it is a huge win. We all hope it will be a win for their constituents as well.

Medicaid qualifications by income are a little higher and people who are on the other end, with higher incomes than most of us, will have higher taxes. Insurance plans will not be able to charge extra for pre-existing conditions. People will not be left without coverage after an illness or job loss. This is pretty much all good news.

Of course this bill will change our medical system for the good, and many people will imagine that it will not need another visit for years to come. Yet it is still very much a capitalist system that is based on privately run institutions, physicians' offices, drug providers, and medical equipment companies. We have had a significant increase in the use of technology in medicine in the past couple of decades that include surgical interventions, life prolonging devices and monitoring procedures, not to mention records. On top of that an explosion of new drugs have been patented by the pharmacological industry. Health care costs overall will probably increase regardless of how this bill is written until we change the driving force behind the whole system from a capitalist to a preventative, holistic model. Many health care professionals would agree I believe.

Meanwhile our Governor Jay Nixon is examining a variety of ways for the State to reign in its budget under the current economy.

And the rumors about the cost of the bill to the states are not as true as originally milled about -- much less than some reports, in fact. The increases will be gradual over time, and the federal government will pay the major initial costs.

Whether Lt. Governor Peter Kinder can actually join the suit that has already been initiated by other states is questionable. It seems like a waste of state time and money to me. Calling Kinder's office, the Governor's or the Attorney General's to object to a pursuit of this action may be helpful.  One would expect to hear more opinions out of Jeff City in the next few days. Senator Kit Bond wants to repeal the health care law just signed by the President. This is likely purely for political reasons, in my opinion, since the Republicans are facing a challenge in the near future.

The Missouri Senate wants to get in on the act as well.

My recollection of Nixon's term as Attorney General is that he was well known as someone who was effective at running a tight, efficient office. In other words, he has a track record as a good administrator. He is well equipped to address the economic challenges of the State of Missouri in health care and most other matters. We really do not need an opposition to what the people of this country have worked very hard at getting passed federally, a significant improvement in health care coverage for us all.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Keeping up with Legislators

This page for capwiz is very useful for activists. I am on a list shown toward the bottom of the page called "Megavote." It sends me frequent updates on legislation in front of my federal Rep and Senators on any given week, & also what is coming up in the near future, so if you want to keep up with issues affecting you it will give you the essential info.

This past week I heard on the list that extension of unemployment and Cobra was passed by a huge majority. I congratulated Bond on supporting out of work Missourians. Senator McCaskill was not present for this vote.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Messy Business in Arrowrock

This story in the RFT hurts me. It took me back to a trip several years ago out to the Silver Mines area of the St. Francois River. That was the time that I found the water to be smelling of fecal matter. I had noted a huge passel of piglets nursing huge sows alongside the curvy road which I once loved when living out that way. Likely those pigs belonged to a farmer I had once known, who pulled me out of a ditch after an ice storm. Or maybe the farm had been sold to another person or family. My purpose was to visit the River, a healer of my spirit. A Forest Service trail runs along the river for two to three miles over moderately challenging terrain.

When Jay Nixon, during his candidacy for Governor, supported Koster (over Margaret Donelly) for Attorney General I had suspicions about this recent party switcher being described as an excellent prosecutor and a friend. Koster is, btw, from Harrisonville, MO., the small Cass Co seat, population around 8,000. His connection with farming is not specifically known to most of us, is it? But he is probably voting with the farmers.  Here is another approach to the problem that might help legislators and other power people to rethink the issue, from a farming publication. Maybe the farmers are beginning to recognize, from articles like the one in the RFT and the one linked in that story to the Wall Street Journal, that public relations are as important as other particulars in running a business.

Another group, Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation, which is working currently on a puppy mill issue, might be interested in exploring how to figure out what to do about the messy business of corporate farms. Corporate animal farming is disturbing as an issue of humane animal treatment as well as being environmentally nauseating.

Meanwhile, considering the puppy mill petition and how previous petitions have fared in our state, MO needs an amendment to its Constitution which rules out legislation that overturns public petition issues which are voted in by the citizenry. Our conservative legislative branch has in the recent past reversed both gun control laws and campaign finance reform that were voted into place on state wide ballot. Isn't that counter intuitive to the representatives and senators working for us?

The Sierra Club also has looked at the issue of CAFOs. 
Perhaps re-establishing democracy-- by voting sanity in-- will be a state by state process, like women's suffrage once was. Reducing the corporations back to their previous status under anti-trust laws may take longer than most of us can imagine, yet we older folks know it has to be done.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Oppose Missouri floodplain coal ash facility

The following is my note via a Sierra Club page to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

As a friend of Missouri's natural environment, I am writing on behalf of LEO [] which is seeking to prevent the building of a huge landfill for coal ash in the nearby Missouri River floodplain.
Ameren UE ought to be required to reverse this decision. As to what to do with such a collection of hazardous waste, citizens of every state ought to have a ready procedure for submitting objections, especially when the risk is to a major population's drinking water. St. Louis metro area is downriver from this site.
I note that at this web page [] fifty percent of the returned information from utility companies showed coal ash storage facilities that are less than 26 feet in height. Does the fact that Ameren UE's proposal is for a 100 foot high container (with 400 acres of area) suggest their own fear of environmental catastrophe, considering the site? Or is it a reflection of the total amount of coal ash they have or will have to discard? In any event, please rule this facility out by agreeing with local citizenry that it is too great a risk for such a susceptible environment, and the disposal problem ought to be submitted to the environmental science community for a far less objectionable solution.
This note will be copied by me to Missouri State officials and local friends.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

What a picture! Kabul.

From the NASA website, a satellite photo of Kabul, Afghanistan.

The link will take you to a closer view which shows the presence of
roads and settlements.

Is there anywhere in the USA comparable to this? It is quite a remarkably
beautiful place.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Links to recent Gaza news

Info for your activist phone calls to office holders &/or the State Department.

New York Times, picture of Hedy Epstein & peace activists

NYT via Reuters,%20West%20Bank,%20March%20for%20Freedom&st=cse

Gaza Freedom March

Global Research

Ramzy Baroud

Montreal, KPFA Radio, "Guns & Butter" with Michael Chossudovsky

Muriel Mirak-Weissbach


Reuters, re: Netanyahu

Electronic Intifada

The Jewish Daily Forward, calls for objectivity

Common Dreams, via Russia Today

Palestine Chronicle (2)

Palestine Monitor, via Jon Stewart

Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and test of our civilization.  
Mohandas Gandhi